From the Desk of the President & CEO: The Importance of Coming Together as Colleagues at the Partnership for Excellence Conference

Q: What is the Partnership for Excellence Conference?

A: The Partnership for Excellence is an annual opportunity for a broad cross-section of members of the nonprofit sector to gather, reacquaint and engage in important topics. Sponsored by the Foundation Roundtable, it brings organizations from throughout Santa Barbara County together and offers a way for funders and nonprofit agencies to engage in a daylong interaction for the greater good of our community.

Q: How does the Partnership for Excellence Conference help the nonprofit community?

A: The value of the Partnership for Excellence lies in two categories. The first is that it offers a social component. An overwhelming number of people in the nonprofit sector do not have the time to take a step back and enjoy being with colleagues in a relaxed environment. The conference allows people to network in between sessions with other professionals, which is important because it lifts spirits and boosts comradery.

The second valuable aspect of the Partnership for Excellence is that its topics have broad appeal, resonance and relevance to the nonprofit community. Past conference topics have been about cultivating mindfulness, learning how to create more effective strategic plans, and discussing how to work collaboratively, among others. These topics inspire conversation between passionate professionals and lead to informal conversation that produces tangible outcomes in collaboration. For example, THRIVE, a working partnership of organizations and entities to achieve change that will help ensure the success of all children in Santa Barbara County, grew out of an informal discussion between motivated individuals.

Q: What is the topic for this year's Partnership for Excellence Conference?

A: This year’s conference topic is “Unlocking the Power of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Our Community.” The hope is that it will spur discussion that will inspire the community to really view their organizations, projects and everyday life using an equity lens, meaning including all people, of all backgrounds and all stages of life. While encompassing the theme of diversity and inclusion, its purpose is to truly change the conversation to one of equity and the understanding and recognition of why everyone does not have the same opportunities and access to those things in life that can help them prosper and be the best they can be.

Q: Why is this topic important?

A: On a community level, there could not be a timelier topic for Santa Barbara County. Recent demographic shifts have made our communities more diverse. Latinos make up about 40 percent of the population in southern Santa Barbara County and about 70 percent of the population in Santa Maria and North County. In addition to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other differences that we traditionally think of when we think about diversity, there are also more subtle differences in geography and political ideology that are important to address and recognize. It makes sense that we would want to enjoin all the assets that we have in diversity so that we can move forward to create a community that respects all of these differences and works toward the common good. Personally, I have long believed in the notion that we get stronger, increase our competitive edge, achieve a bigger impact and have more fun with a more diverse and equal representation of voices in the room.

Q: How will this topic carry over into the work of the Santa Barbara Foundation?

A: This year’s topic of “Unlocking the Power of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in our Community” deeply aligns with the work of the Santa Barbara Foundation because it is our mission and passion to work with all who care about the community. As we strive to understand the power of equity in our work, we are able to perform better and achieve greater positive impact throughout the county. Having said that, this is not a one-day event nor a new topic. Here at the foundation, we have been diversifying our staff, Board of Trustees, key informants and partner organizations for many years and we plan to continue to do so in the years to come.

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