Aleda Gagarin is based in New York but looking forward to taking a deep dive into the issues facing Los Angeles and beyond. Aleda is the Director of Development at Foundation Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen the social sector by advancing knowledge about philanthropy in the U.S. and around the world. Aleda will be joining us at Upswell in Los Angeles this November!
Q: With Upswell LA set for November 14-16, what made you register right away?
AG: There is so much work to do, in every area, in every place. Lately, the turmoil of the times can feel overwhelming, but when ‘the helpers’ gather and share insights and ideas, and work to find more effective ways to collaborate for the common good, it lights the best kind of fire to keep me going. That’s why I was so eager to register for Upswell.
Q: What about Upswell LA are you looking forward to most?
AG: I’m excited to learn. I’m looking forward to experimentation, to collaboration, to new ideas, new people, and a shared sense of social responsibility and justice. I’m looking to expand my perspective by learning from people and places that I am unfamiliar with. I’m also definitely looking forward to spending some time in Los Angeles. I traveled to LA for the first time earlier this year and fell in love with it (don’t tell New York!).
Q: How would you like Upswell LA’s three-day gathering in LA to be different from conferences you’ve attended previously?
AG: I’m hoping it will be more open and less formal. I would like to see organic learning and experimentation. I’d like to be able to take my time and explore and follow whatever happens to hold onto my interest the most at a given moment. I would like Upswell to be a joyful place fueled by a love of the social good and an urgency for social change. I would also like the conference to be inclusive and to flatten power dynamics. As a development director, you can sometimes get put in a certain box. But I look at development work as a vital form of caretaking for a cause, a constituency, or an organization. Like just about everyone in the social sector, I’m looking to create positive change with the tools that I have.
Q: What issue is most important to you that you’d like to see addressed at Upswell LA?
AG: I can’t pick a single issue, there is too much at stake right now. But I would like to see a theme of equity throughout Upswell. We can’t make any real progress without intersectional equity; as the saying goes, ‘no about us without us.’ Everyone has a voice; I want Upswell to be a place where all voices can and will be heard.