Storytelling has always been a powerful tool to name problems, unite constituencies, and mobilize people towards solutions. While this political moment has brought the destructive power of dominant narratives into sharp relief, it also brings with it immense possibility.

This interactive plenary will provide participants with a practical framework and hands-on tools for harnessing the power of story and imagination for resiliency and sustainability.

Felicia T. Perez, Innovation Director, Center for Story-based Strategy
Bernice Julie Shaw, Co-Director, Center for Story-based Strategy


A. Evolving Movement Building to Meet the Challenges of the Moment

Today, the extreme divisions surfacing in our political and social lives threaten our collective wellbeing, and particularly our most vulnerable communities. To combat this, to create change and sustain strong, equitable and healthy communities, we must examine how we come together and build power in these times. Join a conversation with two grassroots leaders about how we must evolve our strategies to build movements across communities and issues in this our new polarizing context. Leave with new connections and tools to inspire, activate, and build your power to meet the challenges of today.

Norma Chávez-Peterson, Executive Director, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Joseph Tomás Mckellar, Co-Director, PICO California

B. Embedding DEI and Community Involvement into Organizational Practices

Is your organization talking about diversity, equity and inclusion but unsure how to effectively build these goals into your internal systems and day-to-day operations? To ensure our work is meaningful and relevant to the communities most impacted by the challenges of our times, we must align our internal practices with our external commitments. Learn from these leaders as they share their own stories and practices, including examining staff compensation—from unlimited PTO to reparations—and peer evaluation methods, how to consider staff’s intersectional identities in the work place so they can show up as their whole selves, and taking practical steps to ensure people with disabilities are full partners who can advance movements. Leave with new ideas and tangible tools for how to embed DEI and accessibility for people with disabilities into your organizations for greater impact and results right away.

Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE)
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility
Lupe Poblano, Co-Director, CompassPoint

C. Planning for Policy Progress in Health Care and Coverage in California

What is the future of health and wellness in California and the nation? How do changes to federal and state policy and the political landscape impact the health care and coverage of Californians, and the organizations that serve our communities? Join Anthony Wright, a leader in the fight to protect and expand health care, such as through the Care4All California campaign, and others for both an overview of the challenges and opportunities, and an interactive discussion to share each other’s policy goals and plans for next year to improve health and wellness at the state and federal level. A focus will be on ways you and your organization can have an impact.

Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access

d. Developing a Culture of Resilience

Even the most seasoned leaders can't predict a disruptive event, unexpected change or the toll the challenging times we live in will take on us and our organizations. But all leaders can begin to create a culture of organizational resilience that turns disruption or change into opportunity and builds the internal strength of their organization and their team. Join two seasoned leaders in an interactive exchange about their approaches, including convening a peer group of executive directors to consider resiliency through the lenses of mental health, financial stability or professional development, and actively developing the leadership of formerly incarcerated women and using a coach to help build the next generation of leadership within the organization. Learn from your peers, gain new ideas and new tools to strengthen your organization from the inside out.

Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC)
Susan Burton, Founder, A New Way of Life and author of “Becoming Ms. Burton”


e. Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going? Building a Durable Regional and Statewide Ecosystem for Lasting Impact

California organizations and leaders have a long tradition of creating coalitions and alliances to build regional and statewide power. Join two leaders as they pause to reflect and share a conversation about where they’ve been, what they’ve learned, and where we are going in efforts to build a sustainable and durable ecosystem of leaders and organizations for the future. Learn the history of key local and state alliances like SF Rising and California Calls and how they have evolved to where we are today. This will be examined as key stories, lessons learned and tools that will help answer questions like, “What does winning look like?” and “Where do we go next?” Share your experiences and identify opportunities together for how to connect with new partners to elevate our local work to regional, statewide and national levels.

Gloria Medina, Deputy Director, SCOPE
Alex T. Tom, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association

f. Healing Is Also Our Resistance

We know trauma. We come from it. We understand it. How do we move beyond trauma to healing? How do we transfer our own healing to those we serve? Caring for staff and for each other must become a priority in order build endurance to continue serving clients, program participants and communities. Join two leaders who are working in and serving communities highly impacted by trauma (LGBTQ, immigrants, young people and people of color) for a conversation about creating a safe space for emotional well-being while continuing to move forward in unity and solidarity in this volatile political climate. Share your stories and strategies and together gain new ideas, connections and tools that promote healing as a primary - and surprising - strategy for resistance.

Joe Kim, Community Health Director, RYSE
Miriam Mesa, Director of Community Education, CHIRLA

G. Self-Care and Personal Transformation: How Do We Stay in the Work for the Long Haul?

We are committed to equity, justice and social change. We work to improve communities and the systems that impact people’s lives day in and day out. What does this require of us? What toll can it take? Join Justice Funders’ Kimi Mojica and Rachel Humphrey to learn about tools and practices to help center self-care. Learn new ways to manage commitments and avoid burnout to stay in this work with the passion and energy needed do it well and into the future.

Rachel Humphrey, Senior Program Director, Justice Funders
Kimi Mojica, Consulting Director - Equity, Justice Funders

H. Mobilizing California’s New Majority for Transformative Power

By 2050, America will be a majority minority nation, yet California met this milestone back in 2000. Since then, what have we learned is required to create inclusive and just communities for everyone who calls California home? What lessons can we apply to our work today from the local to statewide level? Join two seasoned community leaders in an interactive discussion with your peers about the tools and strategies they use to strengthen and build power to create a state where young people, communities of color and immigrants are voting, leading and governing a California for all.

Maricela Morales, Executive Director, CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy)
Luis Antonio Sanchez, Co-Executive Director, Power California


STATE OF RESISTANCE: What California's Dizzying Descent And Remarkable Resurgence Mean For America's Future

Professor Manuel Pastor's latest book, "State of Resistance," looks at the last several decades of economic, social, and environmental transformations in California–and what they can tell us about the road ahead for the U.S. In the book, which the New York Times calls "concise, clear and convincing," Professor Pastor traces the redemptive arc of California's recent history and offers a clear path through the political polarization that grips the nation. Don’t miss this closing plenary, which promises to help us all Power Up! to meet the moment and build the future together.

Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE)