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Plenary Sessions

Plenary Sessions

June 12 Opening Plenary Speaker


Dr. Shena Ashley

Vice President, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Urban Institute

Dr. Shena Ashley is Vice President—Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. For more than 20 years, the center has been a critical resource for credible, nonpartisan, and accessible data and insights on nonprofit and philanthropic activity in society. In addition to policy research, the center provides technical assistance and philanthropic advisory services to advance more effective and equitable nonprofit and philanthropic practice. Before joining the Institute, Dr. Ashley held academic positions in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, where she taught courses on the nonprofit sector and quantitative research methods and advanced a research agenda focused on grantmaking effectiveness and nonprofit management. At the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site, Dr. Ashley was director of research and policy and developed innovative tools for community engagement in performance measurement. Join us in Seattle to hear from Dr. Ashley on how philanthropy is changing, and what she and her colleagues are learning about both individual giving and institutional philanthropy. You won’t want to miss her insights on the practice of equitable grantmaking, the outcomes of place-based impact investing, and the innovative use of data to inform and assess foundation strategy, among other topics.

June 13 Plenary Speaker

Rich Besser

Dr. Richard Besser

President and CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Dr. Richard Besser is President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is committed to building a Culture of Health that ensures everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity to live as healthy as possible. Previously, he was Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News, where he worked to shape how viewers think about health here and around the globe. In 2009, Dr. Besser served as Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During his 13 years at CDC he worked in a variety of capacities including as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, and as an infectious disease epidemiologist. Dr. Besser has also been Pediatric Residency Director at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Besser was the recipient of the Surgeon General’s Medallion for his CDC leadership during the H1N1 response. He also is the coauthor, along with his wife, Jeanne, of Tell Me the Truth, Doctor: Easy-to-Understand Answers to Your Most Confusing and Critical Health Questions. Join us in Seattle to hear Dr. Besser’s insights on putting health equity front and center.

June 14 Closing Plenary Speaker

Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Jerome Adams

Surgeon General of the United States

Dr. Jerome Adams is the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Adams’ motto as Surgeon General is “better health through better partnerships.” He is committed to strengthening relationships with all members of the health community, and forging new partnerships with members from the business, faith, education, and public safety, and national security communities. During his tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Adams has created several initiatives to tackle our nation’s most pressing health issues, including the opioid epidemic, oral health, and the links between community health and both economic prosperity and national security. Dr. Adams received bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master of public health degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Adams is also the former Health Commissioner of Indiana, where he led the State’s responses to Ebola, Zika, and to the largest ever HIV outbreak in the United States related to injection drug use. Join us in Seattle to hear from Dr. Adams on the nation’s response to the opioid epidemic. You won’t want to miss his call for a cultural shift in the way Americans think about, talk about, and respond to the opioid crisis, or his insights on how health funders can help prevent and treat opioid misuse, and promote recovery.

Benet Magnuson Photo

Benet Magnuson is Executive Director of Kansas Appleseed, based in Lawrence, Kansas. His career has been dedicated to nonprofit advocacy on behalf of impoverished and excluded communities. Prior to joining Kansas Appleseed, Mr. Magnuson worked as an attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, and national Appleseed’s immigration financial justice project. His pro bono representations include immigration, criminal, public housing, domestic violence, and family law cases. As a certified mediator, Mr. Magnuson has conducted over a hundred mediations of public housing, family, and small claims disputes and provided dispute resolution trainings to a wide range of clients, including a school district’s special education department, a city’s energy task force, a Boston roller derby league, public housing, and the United States military. While working in Texas, Mr. Magnuson founded PRISMS, a writing program for inmates in Texas jails. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Join us in Seattle to hear from Mr. Magnuson about his advocacy work. You won’t want to miss his insights from the front lines of the health care justice movement.

Diane Kaplan Photo

Diane Kaplan is President and Chief Executive Officer of Rasmuson Foundation, based in Anchorage, Alaska. She served as the first employee and administrator of the Foundation for six years prior to assuming the presidency. Before joining the Foundation, Ms. Kaplan provided consulting services for philanthropic organizations, Native corporations and tribes, and nonprofit organizations. Prior to that, she served as chief executive officer of Alaska’s 28-station public radio network. Ms. Kaplan is a member of the boards of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, The Alaska Community Foundation and United States Artists. She is also a member of the Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council and the Anchorage Rotary Club. Ms. Kaplan’s community contributions have been recognized by a range of organizations over many years. Recent honors include the Anchorage ATHENA Society’s 2019 Leadership Award, the group’s highest honor. The society, a program of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, works to encourage women as leaders in the business world. In April 2019, she received the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Tribal Ally award. In 2018, she was a recipient of a Lifetime Champion for Kids award from the Alaska Children’s Trust. In 2013, Ms. Kaplan received the First Alaskans Institute Ted Stevens Award. She was recognized with the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (N.O.B.E.L. Women) Shining Star Award in 2010 and was named the Council on Foundations Distinguished Grantmaker of the Year in 2007. In 2006, she received the Alaska Federation of Natives’ prestigious Denali Award, which recognizes a non-Native individual who has contributed to the growth and development of the Alaska Native community’s culture, economy and health.