October 19, 2021
Jasmine Banks is unafraid. As the Executive Director of UnKoch My Campus, she is fighting to preserve democracy and protect higher education from undue corporate donor influence. She and her colleagues are taking on a nationwide network of think tanks, "action" groups, and academics funded by Koch Industries and its many subsidiaries. And you think your day job is challenging.
Most recently, Jasmine's organization published a report that reveals a coordinated attempt to ban education about systemic racism in public schools and the teaching of what has come to be known as Critical Race Theory. Jasmine explains how she is pushing back against concerted efforts to foment culture wars in order to maintain the status quo.
We had a great conversation with Jasmine, who approaches her work with enthusiasm, joy, and great deal of grace.
September 28, 2021
Edgar Villanueva is an author, activist, and expert on issues of race, wealth, and philanthropy. He is the Principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital and author of the bestselling book Decolonizing Wealth, whose second edition was just released in August.
He advises a range of organizations including national and global philanthropies, Fortune 500 companies, and entertainment on social impact strategies to advance racial equity.
As a Native American who has worked in philanthropy for nearly two decades, Edgar has an important vantage point to analyze what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve philanthropy.
August 24, 2021
Rich Neimand has spent his long career using his considerable marketing chops to advance important social causes.
His firm, Neimand Collaborative, has worked on a wide range of issues to improve education, protect the environment, improve people’s health, and promote financial inclusion, among many, many others.
At the center is his focus on uniting different audiences around common objectives using a creative approach that goes far beyond focus groups and polling (and includes time spent at the stove or performing personal ablutions).
Rich speaks with Eric about his life, politics, his colorful family, and why the creative process is like making soup.
August 11, 2021
It’s not easy to describe a guest as dynamic as Rinku Sen, but we’ll give it a shot. Rinku is the executive director of Narrative Initiative, co-president of the Women’s March Board, and author of two incredible books. As a political strategist, she has worked with the ACLU and PolicyLink, and her work on the “Drop the I Word” campaign has revolutionized the way media outlets talk about immigrants. As you can imagine, having Rinku on Let’s Hear It is a treat.
In this exceptionally fun and interesting conversation, Rinku talks about her experience in journalism school, the history behind the term “systemic racism,” and how to ask the right questions to get the most useful answers. We’re aware that we say this every time, but it truly is not a conversation to miss.
In sadder news, this episode marks the end of the intrepid Maggie Brown’s tenure as our producer and audio editor. Let’s Hear It might not be the same without them, but we’re so thrilled about this new chapter of their life as they move to Japan to teach English. Give it up for Maggie!
P.S. This does mean we’re in the market for a new audio editor! If you know someone who knows someone who may be interested, don’t hesitate to let us know.
July 21, 2021
Precious Stroud is a Let’s Hear It guest like no other. With a career that unites communication, higher education, and storytelling, she has created spaces where there weren’t spaces before and asked questions few have thought to ask. We’re very lucky to have her on the show.
Precious’s CV, like so many remarkable guests we’ve had on the podcast, is a doozy. She founded PJS Consultants to provide much-needed services to do-gooding organizations. Her work on Love Action Reaction focuses on community wellbeing and COVID-19 safety, and, just because she can, she also founded the BlackFemaleProject, which lifts up, shares, and reacts to Black female voices and stories in the industry.
This was a great conversation that will help you examine the stories of others and how you choose to tell them. Don’t miss out on this episode, please and thank you.
June 30, 2021
Maybe working in philanthropy is like attending a large Thanksgiving family gathering. There are folks you dearly love, folks you put up with, and folks who need a bit of a talking to. Kris Putnam-Walkerly knows this as well as anyone. She is a philanthropic advisor with a long history in the field, and she isn’t afraid to tell Uncle Irving that he needs to straighten up and fly right (so to speak).
Kris’s new book Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail To Achieve Change and What They Can Do To Transform Giving addresses the long list of things that prevent philanthropists from succeeding in their work. It’s a firm but kind look at how to make a difference.
Eric spoke with Kris about her career, her book, and her advice to her colleagues about how to avoid the many pitfalls that philanthropists can avoid as they seek to transform their giving practices.
(And if you stick around to the VERY END, you can hear the Let’s Hear It theme song performed by its creator John Allee complete with lyrics!)
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.