67 Recommended Philanthropy Speakers


A few weeks ago, Sean Stannard-Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy posted a blog asking:

Who are the most amazing, dynamic and engaging speakers you’ve ever seen talk about philanthropy, the social sector and social capital markets?

Many people offered up their favorite speakers on the topic of nonprofits and philanthropy.  Kyle Reis of the Ford Foundation (and @zazoomzimminy) and Sean suggested that I organize the list with links to all the speakers’ bios.  Here is the list below, including the speaker’s name, title, organization, link to their bio (or the organization they represent if I couldn’t find their bio online), the name of the person who recommended them, and any comments about the speaker that were offered.  Of course, if you have more suggestions feel free to add them to the comments!

  1. Bsis Adeleye-Fayemi, Executive Director of Africa Women’s Development Fund.  Recommended by Jennifer Astone.
  2. Akwasi Aidoo, Executive Director of Trust Africa.  Recommended by Jennifer Astone.
  3. Lynda Barry, Cartoonist.  Recommended by Marcia Stepanek.
  4. Bono, Musician.  Recommended by Jesse W.
  5. Brian Bordainick, The Founder of 9th Ward Field of Dreams. Recommended by Teju Ravilochan:  “(Brian) gave a speech that brought every person at The Feast Conference in New York City to their feet, recounting the incredible story of how he raised over $1 million in post-Katrina New Orleans.”
  6. June Bradham, President of Corporate DevelopMint.  Recommended by Rachel Hutchisson:  “THE best and the author of What Nonprofit Boards Really Want, published by Wiley in 2009.”
  7. Antony Bugg-Levine, Managing Director, the Rockefeller Foundation.  Recommended by Jesse W.
  8. Geoffrey Canada, President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone.  Recommended by Kyle Reis:  “Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone was pretty great talking about how philanthropy sometimes undermines the work it is trying to support.” Also recommended by Leslie:  “and double underscore to Geoff Canada nods – Just last nite I told someone about his “accidents of history” speech at IS conference in Detroit- goosebumps”; and by Paul S“I like many of the suggestions, especially Allison Fine and Geoff Canada – both outstanding.”
  9. Jim Collins, Author of “Built To Last,” “Good To Great,” and “How The Mighty Fall.”  Recommended by Jesse W.
  10. Patrick  Corvington, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Recommended by Paul S:  “Sonal Shah, Michele Jolin, and Patrick Corvington are the administration’s point people and all 3 have deep understanding of philanthropy and change.”
  11. Martin Cowling, CEO of People First -Total Solutions.  Recommended by Lori Tsuruda:  (Martin speaks) “on the important contributions of volunteers and what we can do to maximize these”.
  12. Leslie Crutchfield, Author of “Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits.” Recommended by Jesse W.
  13. Peter  Dalglish, Founder, Street Kids International.  Recommended by Katherine:  “I have heard him speak 2 times (one specifically on philanthropy) at different conferences and everyone felt extremely motivated afterwards.”
  14. Cheryl  Dorsey, President, Echoing Green.  Recommended by Paul S:  “Cheryl Dorsey from Echoing Green is a genius and is the ultimate expert on seed capital funding for nonprofits.”
  15. Robert Egger, Founder, DC Central Kitchen.  Recommended by Adin Miller and Jesse W.
  16. Jed Emerson, Founder, Blendedvalue.org.  Recommended by Leslie:  “absolutely, positively never boring” and by Kris Putnam-Walkerly:  “Also agree with the recommendation for Jed Emerson”.
  17. Allison Fine, Author and Speaker. Recommended by Elizabeth Miller:  “I highly recommend Allison Fine (www.allisonfine.com). She is a really great speaker on issues related to social and political change and technology. She gets it, gives great presentations and can explain tough issues to a wide range audience.” Also recommended by Geoff Livingston:  Allison Fine, no question” and by Paul S.
  18. Matt Flannery, Co-founder of Kiva.  Recommended by Jesse W.
  19. Joel Fleishman, Professor of Law and Public Policy Sciences, Duke University.  Recommended by Adin Miller.
  20. Peter Frumkin, Professor of Public Affairs and Director, RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service.  Recommended by Leslie:  “ultra dry wit gives edge to his academic mastery of strategic philanthropy.”
  21. Fernando Frydmann, Director, Centro de Management Social.  Recommended by David Velasco.
  22. Katherine Fulton, Partner of Monitor Group, and president of the Monitor Institute.  Recommended by Kyle Reis:  “And, of course, Katherine Fulton’s TedTalk is inspiring.”
  23. Tracy Gary, Philanthropic and Legacy Advisor, Inspired Legacies. Recommended by Beth Carls.
  24. Claire Gaudiani, Author, “The Greater Good.”  Recommended by Jay Browning:  “She gives an amazing historical perspective of philanthropy and where it came from and how to influence it today. I strongly suggest reading ‘The Greater Good’.
  25. Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink.  Recommended by Kris Putnam-Walkerly: “Exceptionally inspiring, and always thought provoking and right on point.”
  26. Kay Sprinkel Grace, Organizational Consultant.  Recommended by Erick Swenson:  “Kay Sprinkel Grace without doubt is perhaps one of the most motivating speaker on the issues of philanthropy and not-for-profit leadership. Kay combines knowledge with experience and more than a dash of class in all I’ve seen her do in many, many years. She is not a flash-in-the-pan nonprofit professional promoting the latest fad or fancy. What she has to say is tried and true and, yet, is always fresh and welcome as a bright Spring morning. If looking for an ideal conference speaker, allow me to paraphrase McGarrett’s line to Williams, “Book ‘er Danno!”
  27. Andy Goodman,  Author, Speaker and Consultant.  Recommended by Rich Polt:  “Someone who has not appeared on this list yet (I’m shocked actually) is Andy Goodman, He is one of the most entertaining and enjoying speakers I’ve seen on the topic of effective communications in the nonprofit sector. He makes you feel like you’re at a stand-up comedy performance, and then you remember this is actually work-related!” Also recommended by Sean Stannard-Stockton:  “Andy Goodman is the best speaker I’ve seen on any topic. Amazing guy!”
  28. Gonzalo Ibarra.  Recommended by David Velasco.
  29. Jessica Jackley, Co-founder of Kiva.org.  Recommended by David Simms:  “(Jessica) brings great passion and energy to her talks. She will keep the audience on their toes and wide awake.”
  30. Michele Jolin, Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.  Recommended by Paul S.
  31. Kevin Jones, Founding Principal of Good Capital.  Recommended by Jesse W.
  32. Dean Kamen,  Founder, DEKA Research and Development Corporation.  Recommended by Laurie, eFlirt Expert: Dean Kamen was great – inspirational towards educating the youth of our country to get engaged.”
  33. Beth Kanter, Trainer, Coach and Consultant to Non-profits.  Recommended by Kyle Reis:  “Beth Kanter is awesome on the topic of social media and nonprofits.”
  34. Mark Kramer, Founder and Managing Director, FSG Social Impact Advisors. Recommended by Adin Miller.
  35. Gara LaMarche, President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies.  Recommended by Paul S:  “In the thoughtful and provacative column, I’d add Mario Morino from VPP and Gara LaMarche from Atlantic Philanthropies.”
  36. Leslie Lenkowsky, Clinical Professor and Director, Graduate Programs, Center on Philanthropy.  Recommended by Ann Fitzgerald:  “I’d vote for Leslie Lenkowsky, Professor of Public Affairs and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University. He’s a great speaker and challenges the conventional wisdom in the philanthropic world. He is able to give insights from his practical experience in both government and the nonprofit sector combined with his knowledge of latest academic research.”
  37. Geoff Livingston, Author and Co-Founder, Zoetica. Recommended by Kyle Reis:  “(Geoff) is awesome on the topic of social media and nonprofits.”
  38. Heather McLeod, Author of “Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits.”  Recommended by Jesse W.
  39. Adam Meyerson, President, The Philanthropy Roundtable.  Recommended by Ann Fitzgerald:  “He’s very knowledgeable regarding donor intent and the preservation of philanthropic freedom.”
  40. Mario Morino, Co-founder and Chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners and Chairman of the Morino Institute.  Recommended by Paul S:  “In the thoughtful and provacative column, I’d add Mario Morino from VPP and Gara LaMarche from Atlantic Philanthropies.”
  41. Greg Mortenson, Author and Executive Director,  Central Asia Institute.  Recommended by Marcia Stepanke.
  42. Liz Murray, Speaker.  Recommended by:  “Liz Murray – if you’re ready to get emotional.”
  43. Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman of the One Laptop per Child non-profit organization.  Recommended by Erin Prefontaine:  “AMAZING!”
  44. Dan Nigito, Author and Chairman & CEO of Market Street Financial Advisors, LLC.  Recommended by sbrown@statetheatre:  “Dan Nigito gets my vote. I’ve heard him speak twice..his topic was:  It’s My Money and I’ll Give When I Want To!”. He was riveting..and funny.”
  45. Jacqueline Novogratz,  Author & Founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund.  Recommended by Jesse W and by Marcia Stepanke.
  46. George Overholser, Founder and Managing Director, NFF Capital Partners.  Recommended by Paul S:  “George Overholser from NFF Capital Partners is the evangelist of social investing and growth capital and he is both brilliant and engaging – great metaphors and stories to illustrate his points.”
  47. Dan Pallotta, Author, “Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential.”  Recommended by Kathleen:  “Dan Pallotta because he challenges conventional wisdom, questions existing paradigms and really makes you think about how best to do good.”
  48. John Pentland.  Recommended by Amy:  “John Pentland is a remarkable speaker. He often speaks on social justice issues and has a way of making real issues seem that much closer to home.”
  49. Paul Polak, Founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE).  Recommended by Teju Ravilochan:  “(IDE) has enabled 19 million farmers to lift themselves Out of Poverty. He’s a self-identified “trouble-maker”, unbelievably knowledgeable, and also hilarious.”
  50. Tony Proscio, Consultant.  Recommended by Kyle Reis:  “Tony Proscio was great in his talk on using clear language in philanthropy.”
  51. Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President, Putnam Community Investment Consulting.  Recommended by Lauren Kay:  “Kris served as co-presenter for a webinar we did on social networking tools for philanthropy consultants. She was passionate and knowledgeable about the topic and she has an engaging and comfortable style. Kris also had great real-world experience to share. The webinar was very well received and a majority of participants said they were interested in attending a more advanced follow-up session.”
  52. Mando Rayo, Director, Hands On Central Texas.  Recommended by Robert Egger:  “quick shouts for some new folks on the scene–Mando Rayo (TX) on New Americans and Philanthropy.”
  53. Alec Ross, Senior Adviser on Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Recommended by Marcia Stepanke:  “Alec Ross (State Dept) also is pretty good, about social media for social change…”
  54. Dr. Robert Ross, President & CEO, The California Endowment.  Recommended by Lauren Kay:  “I also heard Dr. Robert Ross of the California Endowment speak in Los Angeles recently about grantmaking and advocacy. He was most eloquent and inspiring.”
  55. Holly Ross, Executive Director, NTEN.org.  Recommended by Larry Blumenthal:  “And I’ll add Holly Ross, executive director of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. Holly knows how to present technology (including social media) and its related issues in understandable and useful terms.”
  56. Jason Sabo, Senior Vice President of Public Policy United Ways Texas.  Recommended by Robert Egger:  “quick shouts for some new folks on the scene–Jason Sabo (TX) on Nonprofit Political Engagement.”
  57. Paul Schervish, Director, Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, Boston College.  Recommended by Leslie:  “(Paul) lyrically portrays the donor as a character who develops over time, somehow links Luke Skywalker (Star Wars) to the dry transfer-of-wealth stuff.”
  58. William Schrambra, Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.  Recommended by Ann Fitzgerald:  “He hosts regular discussions in Washington, DC on many topics regarding philanthropy and encourages lively debate from all sides.”
  59. Sonal Shah, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation.  Recommended by Paul S:  “(Sonal has a) deep understanding of philanthropy and change.”
  60. Clay Shirky, Author, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.”  Recommended by Marcia Stepanke.
  61. Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Director of Share Our Strength.  Recommended by Leslie:  “stirs the spirit.”
  62. Sterling K. Speirn, President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Recommended by Adin Miller.
  63. Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center, Inc.  Recommended by Lori Tsuruda:  “Bill Strickland, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (Pittsburgh), a MacArthur genius fellow, on social entrepreneurship with high expectations for participants.” Also recommended by Rachel Hutchisson, and by Larry Blumenthal who says:  “I’ll add another vote for Bill Strickland. Great storyteller.” And lastly by Kate Cochran who says, “I’d also vote for Bill Strickland and Geoffrey Canada, whose passion and clarity remind us all why we are working in these areas.”
  64. Chet Tchozewski, President,Global Greengrants Fund.  Recommended by Jennifer Astone.
  65. Rosetta Thurman, Writer, Speaker, Professor and Consultant.  Recommended by Robert Egger:  “quick shouts for some new folks on the scene–Rosetta Thurman (DC) on the changing faces of philanthropy.”
  66. Tom Tierney, Chairman and Co-founder, The Bridgespan Group.  Recommended by Kate Cochran:  “Tom Tierney of Bridgespan has a marvelous way of sounding both brilliant and self-deprecating at the same time–and a good macro view of the sector today.”
  67. John Wood, Founder and Board Chair of Room to Read.  Recommended by  CVNL Marin: “John Wood, author of “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” and founder of Room to Read. Not only is he inspiring, but the progress he has made is incredible… not to mention, he’s quite humorous as well.” Also recommended by Rachel Hutchisson.

In addition, Jay Frost of Frost on Fundraising reminded us “You can find over 700 speakers in the one and only Professional Speakers on Philanthropy list.”

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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