Virtual event | May 21st & May 28th

Interstate Converse

Guided conversations on creating a post COVID-19 vision for our communities of small businesses, disadvantaged social enterprises.


Join Nonprofit Utopia and NJ Hess Associates for a series of conversations sharing what we're learning about COVID-19 across state lines. Following a community conversation model developed by Nancy J. Hess, we will explore how access to financial resources, technical assistance, mindset pivot and political action play a role in developing an effective community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to register for all 4 events separately in order to gain access to each session.

    What will be different?

    • Our conversations will be interstate, and will include panelists from Illinois and Pennsylvania, who will share lessons they are learning in real time
    • You will get to hear from thought leaders from various sectors of our economy, including elected officials, small business owners, heads of foundations and nonprofits, bankers and technical assistance providers
    • We will share downloadable handouts that will help you follow along during the discussions, and use after the call
    • We will send you links to the recorded sessions, and notes for your future reference
    • We will provide resources that will help you navigate “the new normal”
    • Our hosts are prepared to facilitate solutions that will allow you to convene community conversations or help you to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Even if we can’t answer your question during the time allotted, we will share your questions with the panelists to whom the questions were directed




    Thursday, May 21 & 28

    10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. central time

    11:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. eastern time

    May 21

    Session 1 - 10 AM - central time; 11:00 AM eastern time

    Leveraging Financial Resources to Amplify Community Response to COVID-19

    We would all agree that “throwing money at problems” without a plan or accountability doesn’t make the problem go away. In fact, this approach could actually add fuel to the fire, if we’re not careful. This session will explore how members of the civic, philanthropic and banking sectors are not only writing checks—but they are working in the trenches—partnering with municipalities and local residents to develop viable plans to address emergencies and transition to life post-COVID-19.

    11:30 AM - noon; Break (central time)

    Session 2 - 12:00 PM - central time; 1 PM eastern time

    Capacity Building Community Style - Access to Technical Assistance

    Once the financial assistance becomes available, how do we mobilize people and resources in our local communities to maximize participation and bring partners together to create a collective impact? What have we learned from our experience that we can bring forward to help us work together, across silos, to make sure people get the resources they need?

    May 28

    Session 3 - 10 AM - central time; 11:00 AM - eastern time

    Creating a New Economic and Social Framework for Resilient Communities

    The actions we take to fight the immediate health and economic effects of COVID-19 will affect residents after the crisis subsides. This session will discuss how our actions today can create the foundation for new economic and social frameworks, based on principles such as subsidiarity and inclusion, to build resilient communities and support sustainable, long-term success for all.

    11:30 AM - noon Break (central time)

    Session 4 - 12:00 p.m. - central time; 1 PM - eastern time

    Call to Political Action - Answering the Call to Arms in the War on COVID-19

    The coronavirus is invisible, yet, it is an enemy that presents clear and present danger. It threatens our quality of life, our livelihoods and our very lives. The casualties are staggering, and sometimes, it seems there is no end in sight. We must fight back, but how?

    Our panelists will share some of the strategies they are using to engage community stakeholders and elected officials to effect policy changes at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that our communities get the resources and technical assistance they need to survive. The best part about this panel is, you get to take the lessons learned from the series and try them in your own communities.

    Meet our speakers

    We're super excited to have so many great speakers attending this year's event.

    Cook County Board President

    Toni Preckwinkle

    Executive Vice President for Neighborhoods and Strategic Initiatives, World Business Chicago

    Bernita Johnson-Gabriel

    Council Member, City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    Dave Madsen

    Founder, Project Forward

    Christyn Freemon

    Manager, Borough of Lansdale, Pennsylvania

    John Ernst

    Executive Director, Pennsylvania Downtown Center

    Julie Fitzpatrick

    Local & State Supplier/Business Diversity Consultant, A2Z Diversity Solutions

    Tremayne Terry

    Senior Associate, Center for Public Impact

    Megan Humes

    Entrepreneur and Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Policy Specialist for State of Pennsylvania

    Charlie White, Jr.

    Executive Director, Latino Policy Forum

    Sylivia Puente

    Executive Director, Grand Victoria Foundation

    Sharon Bush

    President & CEO, Evanston Community Foundation

    Monique B Jones

    CEO, The Monroe Foundation

    Otis Chandler Monroe

    President and CEO, Forefront

    Eric Weinheimer

    Central Office Economic Development Regional Director, DCED

    Marita Kelley

    Meet our hosts

    An Illinois - Pennsylvania collaboration founded on the spirit of local and interstate community

    Pioneering Extraordinary Change

    Nancy J. Hess

    Founder, Non-Profit Utopia

    Valerie F. Leonard


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