Carola Secada: Concocting tasty connections at Upswell LA

/ By Debra Rainey / Upswell is about making and building meaningful connections with changemakers doing great things in the social good space, and what better way to do that than over a great meal? During Upswell’s Community Dinners, you’ll “meet well while you eat well.” You’ll have the opportunity to go out into LA…

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Meet Monisha Kapila!

Monisha Kapila, founder and CEO of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco-based nonprofit, ProInspire, will join us at Upswell in Los Angeles this November. Monisha has been recognized as an American Express NGen Fellow and holds a number of other sector accolades. She founded ProInspire in 2009 to help individuals and organizations achieve their potential for…

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What the heck is the Upswell schedule?, Pt. 1

You’ve heard that Upswell is going to be a new kind of experience. But what does that even mean?! The short answer, of course, is that you’ll have to join us in LA this November 14-16 to really understand. But that’s not a satisfying response! Don’t worry, we’re not trying to be mysterious. If there’s…

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Vera deVera: Your ultimate “LA Inside and Out” tour guide

/ By Debra Rainey / Upswell is about imagining new approaches to difficult social challenges. It’s about fresh, innovative ideas that are working in local communities, and envisioning whether they just might work in the community you serve, too. You’ll be able to do just that at Upswell during LA Inside and Out – “immersion…

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Four Upswell lessons from ‘The Last Jedi’

/ By Christian Clansky / It’s May the Fourth – the biggest Star Wars holiday of the year – and, for some inexplicable reason, we don’t get the day off work. So, I’m going to turn work into a celebration of Star Wars instead! I’ll say up front that I am a massive Star Wars…

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Mastering the future

/ By Marie LeBlanc /  On April 24, we hosted the second Upswell Lab, again in our Upswell 2018 home base, Los Angeles. This Lab built on the conversations that we started in February about the urgent issues facing Los Angeles today (read more about it here). We heard from changemakers across LA that the…

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For this museum, community is the “Main” thing

/ By Robert Jones / At The Main Museum in downtown LA, Allison Agsten and her team are building something more than a collection – they’re building a community. Just blocks from Skid Row, The Main Museum in downtown Los Angeles offers a haven of peace and beauty that can seem a world away from…

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“Trust” us, Mike Alvidrez thinks differently about housing

/ By Robert Jones / At the recent Upswell Lab in Los Angeles, it was easy to forget that thousands of homeless men and women were huddled on the sidewalks for blocks and blocks in every direction. On the second-floor terrace of the Star Apartments, birds chirped, bees buzzed and breezes fluttered the blue-striped market…

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Bedouine: Finding inspiration in wandering

/ By Jackie Brennan / Syrian-born Azniv Korkejian was sad to leave Saudi Arabia for the United States at the age of 10, when her Armenian parents unexpectedly won a green-card lottery. The displacement left her with a sense of wandering that followed her through her teens and 20s, as she and her family moved…

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Recognizing one transformative leader from a community of changemakers

Upswell is all about building a community of changemakers to make real change happen in communities. So what better place to honor an emerging changemaker from our community who has demonstrated transformative social impact through collaborative leadership? The nomination period for the 2018 American Express NGen Leadership Award is open through Friday, May 25. For…

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California and the Racial Leadership Gap

/ By Kristina Gawrgy Campbell / We recently caught up with Building Movement Project’s Co-Director Frances Kunreuther to talk about their latest report, California’s Race to Lead: The Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap in the Golden State. Their first Race to Lead report, which looked at the sector’s nationwide data on the leadership gap based on…

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Oh, the places you’ll go! (Without a car)

/ By Robert Jones / It’s no secret that Los Angeles is a car-crazy place. But if you’re flying in for Upswell and don’t want to pay $42 a day to park your rental car at the InterContinental, does that mean you’ll be “stuck” downtown or paying expensive Uber fares? Thanks to Metro, the answer…

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Breaking the ‘DAMN’?

/ By Jackie Brennan / Given that we do a regular profile on some of the most exciting artists from LA’s music scene, we knew this was coming. We thought we’d prime the pump with some names of LA musicmakers you maybe haven’t heard of, and for several weeks, we did. But events from the…

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Turning the table over

/ By Jackie Brennan / In the final month of 2017, many will recall TIME’s break from traditional form in its choice of Person of the Year. For only the 11th time in the 90-year history of the designation, the magazine’s Person of the Year was an unnamed group of people. With a moving and…

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Upswell co-chair talks agency, belonging, and change

/ By Dan Cardinali / As CEO of The California Endowment, Dr. Bob Ross has helped to revolutionize the way America’s most populous state thinks about the health of its citizens and communities. Even in the midst of a 10-year, $1 billion campaign known as “Building Healthy Communities” — a campaign that has notched no…

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Meet Kiley Krekorian Hanish!

Kiley Krekorian Hanish will be at Upswell LA with another “early bird” registrant – 2020 Mom Executive Director Joy Burkhard, Both Kiley and Joy joined the first Upswell Lab in Los Angeles in February. Kiley is Board Chair at 2020 Mom, a doctor of occupational therapy, and founder of the Return to Zero Center for…

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Blake Mills: Pushing the envelope. Contesting dichotomies.

/ By Jackie Brennan / For many Fridays, we’ve brought you profiles on LA musicmakers who either inspire us for how they channel the essence of their home region, or have made a deliberate commitment to using their platform to elevate issues. On the surface, our pick for this week’s music profile is a purveyor…

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Meet Beth Rubins!

Beth Rubins is the grant writer for Vegas PBS with more than 13 years in nonprofit fundraising. Prior to her role at Vegas PBS, she was the director of grants and program support for Communities in Schools of Nevada. A long-time resident of Las Vegas, Beth believes her social work background is critical toward her…

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Meet Eric Weinheimer!

Eric Weinheimer is the president and CEO of Forefront, Illinois’s membership organization for nonprofits, grantmakers, public agencies, advisors, and allies. Eric led the organization’s rebranding three years ago from Donors Forum to Forefront to emphasize putting the members and their impact front and center for the people of Illinois. “The name Forefront will hold our…

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Thundercat: LA’s adaptive spirit à la bass

/ By Jackie Brennan / Think of Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as the bass-playing counterpart to tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who we shared about back in March. Like Washington, Thundercat is an LA musicmaker. Also like Washington, Thundercat was part of the studio crew that Kendrick Lamar tapped to help him on his acclaimed 2015 studio…

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The first wave of speakers!

/ By Jackie Brennan / Telling tough stories. Giving life to movements. Creating wow! moments. We know this first batch of Main Stage speakers is on-point because they embody the spirit of Upswell. We could extol their virtues ad nauseam, but we think the basis for our enthusiasm will be self-evident once you see who…

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Tarana Burke: Giving life to the #MeToo movement

/ By Debra Rainey / Upswell will shine a bright and critical light on systems of oppression, racial inequity, and structural violence, and celebrate the work of those in the struggle to end them, like Tarana Burke — civil rights leader, social justice revolutionary, founder of the #MeToo movement — and a featured speaker on…

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Erik Wahl: Creating “wow moments”

/ By Tamieka Briscoe / Another year, another conference. If you’re anything like us, you’d rather watch paint dry than attend the same old, same old mundane meeting of the minds. Well, color us excited! Because recently added to the mainstage speaker lineup at Upswell is international graffiti artist and best-selling author, Erik Wahl. If…

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Lisa Ling: Telling the stories that often go untold

/ By Kristina Gawrgy Campbell / Throughout her career, Lisa Ling has been a champion for telling the stories that are hard to find on the cover of newspapers or through your daily news alerts. As an award-winning journalist, Lisa has traveled around the country and world to document everything from the toll of prescription…

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Meet Loren Riemer!

We dig Loren Riemer’s vision for a better world, and not just because she diffuses essential oil in her day-to-day workspace. Loren is an Austinite who serves as vice president of development operations for a Texas-based org called Upbring. In her Upbring role, Riemer is part of a team that works across the state of…

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View on a run toward the future

/ By Debra Rainey / Imagine being homeless, hopeless, and having someone say: “Here’s a pair of sneakers. Take an early morning run with me. You might just turn the corner to a better life.” Sounds crazy, right? Well, you can virtually watch someone do just that, as they run along the streets of LA’s…

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Quetzal: Using art to advance social change

/ By Tamieka Briscoe / As planning for Upswell and building our community of changemakers continues, we’ve found inspiration in artists within and outside of the Los Angeles area who are using their talent to bring issues to light. Inspired and informed by global grassroots movements, Quetzal—a bilingual Chicano rock band from East Los Angeles,…

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Meet Gene Takagi!

Chances are, if you’ve been involved in nonprofit policy or legal work, you know Gene Takagi. Gene is an award-winning nonprofit lawyer who runs Nonprofit Law Blog, a resource for all of your favorite nonprofit legal topics — like how to deal with fiscal sponsorships, maintain effective collaborations, and understand the role of social enterprise.…

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Meet Erin Risner!

From a young age, Erin Risner knew she was attracted to a broad range of issues—enough to have a constant fear of missing out. Heeding the wise advice of a parent though, she found a way to beat the restlessness by following a professional route that has taken her through nonprofits, tech, and social entrepreneurship.…

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Thinking panoramically at the InterContinental

/ By Christian Clansky / Remember the last time you sat in a windowless conference hall, squeezed into a row of uncomfortable chairs under the dull hum of underpowered florescent lights, and thought to yourself, I FEEL ALIVE! I’M BURSTING WITH ENERGY AND READY FOR ACTION! Our bet is that you probably haven’t had that…

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What the heck is the John W. Gardner Leadership Award?

The award and its celebration event will be a high-energy part of Upswell, but more on that (and an important April 2 deadline!) in a minute. First, you might be wondering: Who the heck was John W. Gardner? Great question! John Gardner was a distinguished American statesman, academic, nonprofit leader, civil servant, author, and community…

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Meet David Kietzman!

One of the most powerful tools in the changemaker toolkit is storytelling. As managing partner and chief engagement officer of Momentum Solutions, David Kietzman and his team help changemakers tell stories that matter. And David’s own story is a fascinating one. He’s taught art in Central America, led nonprofits, launched a giving circle, lectured at…

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Meet Joy Burkhard!

Joy Burkhard, Executive Director of 2020 Mom, registered early for Upswell. She also joined other changemakers in February for our first Upswell Lab in Los Angeles to discuss how LA’s successes and challenges could inform a national gathering of changemakers. Learn how she’s tackling maternal mental health disorders – and how she hopes Upswell will…

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Meet Ryan Easterly!

In considering the social sector’s most valuable resources, diversity could easily be at the top of the list. The varied experiences, skills, and identities that changemakers carry with them might just be the key to solving our most complex challenges. Ryan Easterly – the very first changemaker to arrive for the very first Upswell Lab…

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Nonprofit insights by way of the “Vanderpump Rules”

/ By Katie Jones / When my friends and I head to LA for Upswell, we’ll be sure to check out happy hour at a little restaurant called SUR (short for Sexy Unique Restaurant). SUR is the set for the Bravo television show called Vanderpump Rules. I have been thinking a lot about this odyssey…

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Los Angeles: A geographic oddity

/ By Tamieka Briscoe / Home to nearly 4 million people, Los Angeles is well-known for having a diverse population. A lesser known fact is that the geographical distribution of Los Angeles proves to be diverse as well. With temperatures averaging in the low 60s during the winter months when many of the major Midwest…

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Kamasi Washington: Reviving West Coast jazz with every lick

/ By Jackie Brennan / Kamasi Washington and his band came up in the LA music scene by playing sets on the DJ night and goth club circuit. Today, the fusion tenor saxophonist is widely considered one of the vanguards of Los Angeles’s resurging jazz community. His debut studio record—a 172-minute tour de force, recorded…

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“We have an Upswell!”

/ By Marie LeBlanc and Christian Clansky / Last week in Los Angeles, as the first Upswell Lab attempted to wrap up, an enthusiastic buzz echoed through the Center at Cathedral Plaza. While it was quite clear that a two-hour Lab might not be long enough (more on that shortly), it was also obvious that…

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What the heck is an Upswell Lab?

A phrase you’ll hear a lot is that “we’re building Upswell from the ground up.” So, what (the heck!) does that mean? One thing that it definitely doesn’t mean is that we’re just winging it. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a starting point, we have a wealth of information – from in-depth interviews, zany…

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Upswell LA’s host city takes the gold for data use

/ By Debra Rainey / Which city recently won the gold for use of data to help improve the lives of its residents – and also happens to be your destination city for Upswell LA? Yes, the City of Angels, Los Angeles, was the only city to receive a gold certification in January 2018 from…

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Los Angeles’s Downtown Women’s Center

/ By Robert Jones / Practically every city in America has a homeless problem, but nowhere is it more concentrated or more visible than in the 54 blocks of Los Angeles known as Skid Row. Experts say there are upwards of 10,000 people sleeping on the street here every night – the entire population of…

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The Milk Carton Kids: The wit is strong with these ones

/ By Jackie Brennan / If you reach for studio material from Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale looking for something new, you might be disappointed. The two-man act known as The Milk Carton Kids doesn’t feign to be anything new. After all, they play folk music. By Ryan’s own admission at the 2013 Newport Folk…

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Scrambled eggs with a side of history

/ By Robert Jones / If you’re flying from the East Coast to attend Upswell LA, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be wide awake at 4 am in the Pacific Time Zone. But don’t worry, the perfect cure for insomnia is just four blocks away. The Original Pantry Café touts itself as “LA’s 24-hour icon.”…

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Meet Regeanie Corona!

Years from now, when we look back at how and why Upswell surged into existence, we’ll be able to point to people like Regeanie Corona as the reason. Regeanie, founder and CEO of California-based nonprofit Advancing the Seed, was both one of the first changemakers to sign up for Upswell and a high-energy collaborator at…

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What the heck is the Common Good?

The “common good” is generally defined as what is good for all people. Point to any time in the history of human existence and we have often fallen short of true common good for all. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. In fact, that is the very essence of civil society – a group…

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Creative destruction and the search for a sector narrative

/ By Robert Jones / Drew Ferguson spent approximately 100 hours pouring himself into a three-page narrative about the nonprofit sector and its value to society. Then he watched, unfazed, as 15 sector leaders in Los Angeles tore it apart. After all, this kind of creative destruction was always part of the plan, and finding…

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What the heck is Human-Centered Design?

Have you ever come across a product or service that made you say, “Wow! That really works for me?” The reason why we feel this excitement when we encounter a well-designed product or service is because it was probably made with the end user in mind. This design method is known as Human-Centered Design—or HCD—and…

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Some Ozomatli for your Friday

/ By Christian Clansky / If you had to boil Ozomatli down to a quick description, you might say this: their sound is as diverse as the city they they call home. Now in their third decade, the LA-based band has perfected a wild and funky fusion, liberally mixing rock, salsa, reggae, hip hop, soul,…

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How we found the Upswell look

/ By Christian Clansky / Once we landed on the name Upswell, we knew the bar for the brand had been raised quite high. We would need a brand environment as energetic and moving as the name. It would have to be engaging, memorable, flexible, energetic, on-trend, evocative, consistent, emotional, lasting…basically, we knew we needed…

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The story behind the name

/ By Christian Clansky / In the early days, before Upswell was Upswell, we knew that if we were going to be successful at reimagining the idea of a conference, we would need a name to match that ambition. It would have to be exciting and energetic. It would have to put changemakers in the…

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What the heck is a changemaker?

So, what IS a changemaker? Well, it depends on who you ask. President Bill Clinton used the term “changemaker” to describe his wife Hillary Clinton’s public service achievements immediately following the 2016 Democratic National Convention – causing a media storm. Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs, was…

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Priscilla Ahn: A “La La Land” voice you should hear

/ By Debra Rainey / Los Angeles is the setting for Upswell LA, scheduled November 14-16. LA is home to many things – sunny days, “star-filled” nights, movie-making, and many of the recording industry’s hottest and emerging artists. As planning for Upswell LA continues, we’d like to introduce our community of changemakers to some of…

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What the heck is Upswell?

When you put something new into the world, there are bound to be (more than) a few questions! So, welcome to our What the heck? series, where we’ll give you short overviews of new concepts, terms, program elements, etc. To kick things off, we’ll start with a question that’s not so easy to answer. What…

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Facing a brain drain? Here’s how one community is fighting back.

/ By Robert Jones / If the presidential election of 2016 did nothing else, it put rural America’s “brain drain” on the public radar. Seemingly overnight, reporters and political pundits started connecting dots they had long ignored: In small towns and unincorporated places, middle-class young people were moving away for college and never coming home,…

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Upswell begins with humans

/ By Christian Clansky / Think about the word conference for a few seconds. How does it make you feel? Does it open your imagination? Does it pique your curiosity? Does it give you energy? Does it stir your soul? Does it make you feel like you can truly change the world? Our hunch is…

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Meet the first changemaker to register for Upswell!

Melissa Mendes Campos knows an innovative new approach when she sees one! She was the first person to register for Upswell LA! Melissa is a partner at La Piana Consulting, a nonprofit consulting firm that works to improve leadership and management practices throughout the sector for greater social impact. Her job requires creative thinking and…

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