National, Philadelphia

Community, Connection, and Collaboration in Philadelphia


July 25, 2022

“What are things that get in the way of your work in your communities?” asked Associate Director of FSG and NLC Oakland alumni Miya Cain to an audience of 250 Convention attendees. “Stress!” shouted one person; “racism!” said another; “anxiety!” said a third. Then, the room quieted as Miya filled it with her low bravado. She began to sing “Can’t nobody turn me around.”

With a slow sway and rhythmic claps, the crowd joined her. Can’t stress, racism, or anxiety turn us around, the crowd sang. “We’re gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’, marching up to freedom land.”

Through our raised voices, we united in a collective melody, both raising the volume in our calling for change and healing ourselves from the pain and anguish of the past two years of the pandemic. 

The 2022 NLC Convention was centered on this spirit of community care. It was centered on vulnerability and sharing our stories. The three-day event’s theme was “Where Stories Become Action,” and together we discovered that our individual experiences can spark collective change. 

This year’s Convention embodied three key elements of New Leaders Council: Community, connection, and collaboration. 

From our mainstage speakers to our breakout session topics – and our fun evening events in between – attendees left Philadelphia feeling energized and ready to take on challenges in their communities. With cross-sector programming, topics varied across industries and issue areas, including business, non-profit, advocacy, public service, and more. 

2022 Convention Speakers and Topics

  • Welcome Remarks from NLC’s President and CEO, Clare Bresnahan English
  • Deepa Iyer’s Ecosystems Of Social Change with NLC Board of Directors Secretary Candace Stanciel
  • Fireside Chat Amalgamated Bank President and CEO Priscilla Sims Brown: Equity in Banking
  • The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done Voluntarily Claiming Identity and Visibility with Lelia Gowland
  • Fireside Chat with Congressman Andy Kim: Defining Leadership
  • Fireside Chat with Errin Haines: The Stories Behind the Headlines
  • Keynote with StoryCorps CEO Sandy Clark: Telling Our Stories to Spark Action
  • Health is Wealth Panel: Creating New Narratives for the Health of Women of Color
  • Collective Impact Panel with FSG’s Miya Cain
  • Fireside Chat with Kim Kelly: The Untold Stories of the Labor Movement
  • NLC Story: An Interview With The CEO
  • Comedy Set with Hari Kondabolu

Alumni also collaborated to moderate mainstage panels and lead topical breakout sessions. They brought their identities, industry experiences, and the issues they care about to Philadelphia, and together, workshopped and brainstormed solutions to bring further equity into their work at home in their communities. That’s the power of NLC’s collective network. No one person has to know all the solutions, but rather, we all work together with our varying perspectives to seek new strategies

Alumni and Partner-led Breakout Panels and Workshops

  • NLC Women in Elected Leadership
  • Educator Unions for Racial, Social and Economic Justice
  • LGBTQ+ Accompliceship
  • Beyond the Public Safety Small Talk: Navigating the Reality for Change
    How to Build a More Diverse, Inclusive, and Effective Policy Sector: For Think Tanks, Policy Nonprofits, and Governments
  • Spark!Talk Panel: Future of Work
  • AARP Caregiving Panel
  • Green Economy Workshop/ Panel
    Spark!Panel: Higher Education 
  • Health is Wealth Workshop
  • State Voting Rights Act: The New Frontier
  • How To Tell Your Story So People Turn Up, Not Tune Out
  • Voice of the People Mental Health and Law Enforcement Policy Simulation Workshop
  • LEAD Trainer Networking
  • Making Progress When In Power: How To Move The Needle When In A Position Of Power
  • NLC Authors and Creatives Panel

Alumni also gave Spark!Talks that highlighted their experiences and expertise, sharing their important stories with attendees. From the war in Ukraine to saving local restaurants, Spark!Talks highlighted the leadership roles alumni play in their communities

We thank our title sponsor NBCUniversal Comcast, as well as our other sponsors: AARP, AFSCME, Amalgamated Bank, Atlantic Shores, Carpenters, DSPolitical, EMILY’S List, Lyft, and Metal. We also thank our many speakers who traveled to Philadelphia to generously share their knowledge and engage with our community. 

“This past weekend was a time that I didn’t realize that I needed,” said NLC Philadelphia Co-Director Janay Hawthorne on Instagram. “I’ve left feeling inspired, refilled, and excited for what’s to come. Being able to (re)connect with people all over the country who care about and work hard for their communities makes you feel a bit more hopeful for the future.”

As we all returned home from Philadelphia to our home chapters, we know we must continue to keep up the momentum of the movement.

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