The Forum Conference: A Newbie’s Perspective

Guest Post by Mandi Moshey, Communications Manager, Philanthropy Northwest

It’s been a nearly two weeks since returning home from the Forum Conference in Pittsburgh, and I continue to talk to my colleagues about lessons learned from the conference. Being one of the greenest members of the Regional Association staffers in attendance (I’ve only been with for Philanthropy Northwest for a little over three months now) meant that I was eager to meet the folks from other RAs and get a better understanding of where our organization fits within the national landscape.

The conference was an excellent crash course in all things RA – from operations and organizational structures to common struggles and successes worth celebrating. The highlights for me included:

  • The “Job-Alikes”: The work we do certainly qualifies as niche so it was great to sit around a table with fellow communications personnel to discuss our unique challenges. Topics ranged from a high-level, philosophical discussion regarding the value of social media, all the way down to granular items like which email communication tool will cause the fewest headaches.
  • Not having to explain what I do for a living: As I intimated above, our work is what I have been known to call “dangerously specific.” Even my mom can’t really explain what I do. Being in a room full of people who “get it” was extremely refreshing. (And now I am reminded again that I need to work on cutting my elevator speech by a few sentences).
  • Sharing our “bests”: There’s such a wide range of issues that we can focus on in the philanthropic sector, and it was interesting to learn more about the innovative and exciting work being done by our colleagues across the country. Philanthropy Northwest does not currently focus much programming on engaging youth in philanthropy, so I was particularly interested in hearing more about the work being done with young people. Hat tip to Indiana Grantmakers Alliance for their incredible work on the Phil Anthropy game.
  • Pittsburgh! I had no idea what to expect coming into Pittsburgh, but I was definitely pleased. The city was lovely and extremely walkable. I only regret that I didn’t have more free time to explore. I’ll have to plan a return visit someday.

Overall the conference was great experience. I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with each and every Forum member and appreciate having access to a network full of such smart and creative people.


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