June 9, 2021
Sometimes we need a little breath of fresh air during the workday. This week’s guest on Let’s Hear It might just do the trick. Lowell Weiss, President of Cascade Philanthropy Advisors, is probably one of the most genial guests we’ve had the pleasure of speaking with.
From his behind-the-scenes perches at the Atlantic Monthly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the White House, Lowell has seen it all, done it all, and kept a marvelously cheerful attitude throughout – even after getting a talking to from the President of the United States.
Lowell talks about his new project – helping to run the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community – which brings together nonprofit and civic leaders, funders, and public officials to help improve philanthropy.
We hope you enjoy this episode just as much as Eric has enjoyed his decades-long friendship with Lowell!
May 4, 2021
Valerie Goode has been the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the San Francisco Foundation for a year now, but she has yet to set foot in her office. She has also led communications at a community foundation dedicated to advancing racial equity and economic inclusion at a moment when the challenges and opportunities have never felt more powerful.
Valerie has done it all with extraordinary aplomb and good humor. Eric spoke with her about her fascinating career (she was once in charge of background checks for the Governor of Massachusetts!), growing up as a Black woman in Maine, and how she has woven together her many experiences to advance the work of the San Francisco Foundation. If you are a communications professional or hope to become one someday, this will be an especially valuable conversation.
April 20, 2021
This week, it is our pleasure to share Eric’s conversation with Andy Goodman – a master storyteller, writer, and communications Swiss Army knife. Andy is Director of the Goodman Center and he is the author of a very helpful new resource – Unmuted: What Works, What Doesn’t, and How We Can All Do Better When Working Together Online. Just in time, huh?
Andy and Eric have worked together since the 20th Century, if you can believe it. After this discussion, you will also feel like you’ve known Andy since Destiny’s Child was on the pop charts. Andy teaches us that we can all do the things we do better. This interview is sure to make you sprint to the Goodman Center website and sign up for a training or download a resource about how to be better at meetings, presentations, or storytelling. Enjoy!
March 31, 2021
We’re back at Let’s Hear It with a great interview from Kirk! We had the remarkable pleasure (mixed with a little pain) of hearing Dr. Roberto Stefan Foa and Daniella Wenger from the University of Cambridge talk about their study of the future of democracy and young peoples’ involvement in it. What may seem like another dive into Kirk’s deepest, darkest fears actually is a thoughtful analysis of all the ways democracy has been failing young people in this country, especially after the 2008 economic collapse, during the mass unemployment of 2020, and in light of the racism built into the system.
Listen to hear all about the study, how to keep young people engaged in politics, and how to keep making democracy better.
February 24, 2021
We are incredibly excited to have Trabian Shorters as our guest this week. Trabian, who runs BMe Community, has helped change the way so many of us communicate. He has drawn upon an amazing combination of brain science and good old hacking to help people across the nonprofit world understand the power of defining people by their aspirations and talents rather than their challenges.
We really hope you’ll enjoy this amazing conversation as much as we did.
January 27, 2021
Welcome back to Season Three of Let's Hear It!
Kirk and Eric take a brief look back at that crazy year and discuss what they're looking forward to in the year ahead.
December 8, 2020
In this week’s show, we have a really special treat - Joy Harjo, the first indigenous Poet Laureate of the United States. Joy is in conversation with Rebecca Arno, the Chief Operating Officer of the Barton Insitute for Community Action at the University of Denver in a session recorded as part of ComnetV, the virtual gathering of the Communications Network, which was held earlier this year.
Joy Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, including her most recent, An American Sunrise. Her memoir, Crazy Brave, was awarded the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Non Fiction and the American Book Award.
She is Executive Editor of the anthology When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, released in August 2020.
She is a member of the Muscogee Nation, and is only one of two writers who has served three terms as Poet Laureate.
We've been lucky enough to be able to broadcast some of the ComnetV conversations on Let's Hear It, and as always, we’re grateful to the Communications Network for their partnership and support.
November 25, 2020
Kahane Cooperman and John Hoffman may be just what we need to soothe America’s ragged soul. They have created a documentary film about kindness and caring called The Antidote, which explores how nine communities across the country are building bridges across difference and finding ways to take care of each other in the face of extraordinary challenges.
Eric talks with John and Kahane about this truly remarkable film, now streaming on Amazon Prime, which started with a single word written on a cocktail napkin.
If you need a little boost this holiday season, this conversation should prime the pump.
November 17, 2020
We’re back! It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks, and if you’re looking for a podcast to soothe your stressed-out soul, look no further than this episode featuring Daniel Lee, the Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation. Daniel was raised in South Dakota, where his was only the second Korean family in the history of the state. His experience as an “insider and outsider” working with issues as potentially divisive as religion and LGBTQ+ rights is informed by the curiosity, empathy, and caring he brings to his work.
We are very excited to bring you this episode, in which Eric and Daniel discuss divinity school, framing narratives, and how corporate foundations can serve much more than the bottom line. This is an episode that, as Eric says, will warm the cockles of your heart.
October 21, 2020
We have a doozy for you this week. Kirk sits down with David Roberts, the outspoken energy and climate change writer for Vox, to talk about power, climate, and (Kirk’s favorite) conspiracy theories. David started writing in 2000 when he answered a Craigslist ad for a new environmental publication called Grist, and he has been blowing our minds ever since with his engaging writing on energy and climate – a “beacon in the smog”, as Grist used to say.
David has some amazing takes on how to inspire the left and on the shortcomings of philanthropy. His words might scandalize nonprofit purists, but they ring true nevertheless.
October 1, 2020
If you missed ComnetworkV or if you would like to revisit that truly exciting week, you’re in luck. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting some of the highlights of the conference.
We begin this week with a fascinating conversation with Alexis McGill Johnson, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Alexis sits down with Kristen Mack, Managing Communications Director at the MacArthur Foundation (and previous Let’s Hear It! guest).
Alexis and Kristen have a candid discussion about RBG, hope, and the urgency of this moment in history.
Stay tuned for more highlights from ComNetworkV. This year’s virtual conference was almost as magical as it is in person, and certainly contained some of the most exciting programming we’ve ever seen.
September 22, 2020
Susan Vandergriff walked away from a seventeen-year career as a banker because something was missing in her life. She went back to school, studied social work, and ended up with a part-time office manager job at a new organization called A Step Ahead Chattanooga, whose mission was to provide free reproductive health care to women who weren’t ready to become pregnant.
In just a few years she was running the organization. This week she takes the virtual stage at the Communications Network’s virtual gathering ComNetworkV to accept the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award which is given annually by The Communications Network to a social sector individual, team, or organization whose work best represents the extraordinary impact of our craft.
Susan gave us a sneak preview of her amazing story, which is just another reminder of how lucky we are to be in the field of social change.
September 16, 2020
There are no excuses not to make it to ComNet this year – it’s free and it’s virtual. So you don’t have to leave the house and you can attend in your pajamas.
Eric speaks with the Communications Network’s CEO Sean Gibbons about all the amazing keynotes, breakouts, and the annual Day of Service, which will give participants the opportunity to support a fair count of the US Census.
And if you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late – go to comnetworkvirtual.org until September 21. Did we mention that it’s free?
September 9, 2020
Our cultural institutions shape how we view the world, and Javier Torres-Campos, the Director of the Thriving Cultures Program at the Surdna Foundation, is doing his part to help shape those cultural institutions for the better. Javier doesn’t just fund the arts, either. He is looking at how changes in city planning, design, and even architecture can help build a more equitable society.
Javier and Eric had a freewheeling conversation about the role cultural institutions can play in helping open up the American mind. They also had a fascinating exchange about a document called “We See You White American Theater” that challenges the structure for creating, funding, and administering theater in this country.
If you care about the future of arts in America, or even just the future of the American mind, don’t miss this episode.
August 26, 2020
With so many people out of work and low on hope, we look to the leaders who are blazing new trails to success. Eric had the incredible luck to connect with Ruben Harris, co-founder of Career Karma, a startup that helps people network, learn, and find employment in tech. Ruben might as well be listed under the word “trailblazer” in the dictionary; in the wake of mass unemployment that has left this country reeling, he’s started a campaign called Reskill America, which provides laptops to underestimated folks (a term borrowed with gratitude from a venture capital trailblazer in her own right, Arlan Hamilton). Ruben is nothing but audacious – he hopes to benefit one billion people in the next ten years. He also hosts the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which definitely warrants a listen.
Eric has proclaimed this episode to be his favorite of 2020 so far, and no wonder. Ruben provides much food for thought on how nonprofits can learn from the business world. He also offers some very honest feedback for how foundations can improve their practices. And he reminds us that there’s no time like the present to achieve your dreams.
If this week, month, or year has got you feeling unempowered, this is the interview you must listen to.
August 5, 2020
This week, Disinformation King Kirk Brown sits down with Renée DiResta, Technical Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, a multidisciplinary research center that works on understanding how information moves on the internet. Renée has written extensively on the topic of disinformation, much to the chagrin (or delight?) of comment trolls, and has recently done fascinating work on disinformation as it pertains to COVID-19 responses.
Renée and Kirk’s conversation runs the gamut of topics from the power of the internet to the effect of malign narratives, with lots in between. This is a conversation that will especially appeal to those with the disinformation scaries. Renée and her work are vital to changing how we talk about the internet as the information environment of today, and her insight is not to be missed.
Bonus: The Communications Network has just announced that Renée will be one of their speakers this year at ComNet’s first-ever virtual gathering, which will happen from September 22nd to September 25th. Better yet, it’s free! You can find out more here: https://www.comnetworkvirtual.org/.
July 22, 2020
Sabeel Rahman is a leading progressive thinker, movement builder, convener, and collaborator whose specialty is linking big ideas to social change strategies.
Since 2018, he has been the president of Demos, an organization that was started in 2000 by progressive foundations that wanted to respond to right wing think tanks with a focus on progressive policy development and advocacy. One of its early board members was a State Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
Under Sabeel’s leadership, Demos has built on its reputation as an essential voice in the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. In this edition of Let’s Hear It, Eric and Sabeel have a free-flowing conversation about dismantling institutions and systems that are responsible for ongoing inequality in race, gender, and class. Sabeel talks about how to create new models for how the world will need to work as we attempt to create a new social contract based on justice.
July 8, 2020
Unless you've been living under an extremely large rock for the past four years, by now you are well aware that the information we receive on a daily basis isn't always what it seems to be.
This week, Kirk interviews Nina Jankowicz, whose new book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict is a stark reminder that American democracy is under siege.
And if you are doing communications today, you are doing it in a sea of disinformation that has been designed to create chaos and foment distrust in the American system.
And yet, it's never been more important to know what we're up against. This episode is a stark reminder of just how vulnerable our messages are to abuse and subversion.
Have a nice day!
June 24, 2020
In the past month, nonprofits and foundations across the country have made strong statements of commitment to racial justice, in particular to support the Movement for Black Lives. At the center of this work is an understanding that we need to create new narratives about what we want our future to look like and how we move forward.
As we create these narratives, we will need to harness the power of stories. Our guest this week is Thaler Pekar, who specializes in gathering stories of foundations, nonprofits, and companies. Among her many achievements, Thaler traveled around the world to collect 178 oral histories for Atlantic Philanthropies, which are archived at Cornell University.
In addition to her work on oral histories, her firm Thaler Pekar & Partners produces videos, conducts workshops, and coaches executives on how to tell their stories.
Eric and Thaler spoke back in February, but their conversation could not be more timely. Thaler reminds us of the importance of collecting and sharing stories. As so many of us turn our sights to creating a new narrative of change, this episode serves as a valuable lesson in the curriculum.
June 10, 2020
We hope that you are staying well and healthy and safe.
As we were thinking this week about what show to share with you, we kept returning to this conversation with Ben McBride that aired last year.
Ben is a pastor and activist who has devoted his career to healing and reconciliation. He lives in Oakland, California where he's the co-director of PICO California.
We’ve been looking to Ben for wisdom and inspiration a lot these days – especially his work at Bring the H.E.A.T., which is an effort to increase the peace in California by transforming the public safety system into one everybody can trust.
In the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, this conversation with Ben feels particularly relevant.
So this week we bring you a replay of Eric’s conversation with Ben. Thanks for listening.