February 19, 2020
Eric interviews a truly great interviewer: Cinny Kennard, Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles.
Cinny has had a long and fascinating career in the world of radio and television journalism. Her work includes coverage of the Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas sexual harassment controversy, the 1992 U.S. presidential election, the Persian Gulf War, and hundreds upon hundreds of interviews with the Royal Family, notable politicians, and world leaders, among many others. Her work has taken her from CBS to NPR to Annenberg, with some other exciting stops along the way.
Now the executive director of the Annenberg Foundation, Cinny talks with Eric about the legacy of the Annenberg family in Los Angeles, how to make journalism a respectable profession, and a foundation’s duty to the communities it serves. Her opinions on philanthropy may be unconventional, but her commitment to finding better, kinder, and more lasting solutions to challenges in our modern world is palpable. She is truly a force to be reckoned with.
February 4, 2020
There are people who come along who don’t just change the way you think or how you do your job, but who just change you – they change the chemical makeup of your body. Professor john a. powell is one of those people.
john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and a wide range of issues including race, structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy. He is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley (formerly Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), which supports research to generate specific prescriptions for changes in policy and practice that address disparities related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomics in California and nationwide. In addition to being a Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion.
If you don’t know john’s work (and Eric and john speak about why he doesn’t capitalize the letters in his name) you are in for a rare treat. Even if you do know about john, we think you will get a glimpse of him that is new and incredibly fun. (And you will also hear the story about how john and Eric got separated in a Havana disco.) In any case, we think that this episode of Let’s Hear It will have a profound effect on anyone who tunes in. Thanks for listening!
January 28, 2020
Thank you so much for listening to Let's Hear It. It's been a wonderful year, and we're so excited to kick off our second season.
In this special episode, Eric and Kirk sit down to talk about their favorite Let's Hear It moments in 2019, what they've learned hosting and recording, and what they're looking forward to in this next year of podcasting. If you've ever had any questions about the podcast process, or just like hearing Eric and Kirk banter like two old biddies from the Upper West Side, this fireside-ish chat is worth the listen.
Thanks again for listening!
December 11, 2019
After spending a number of years in Oakland as a pastor, Ben McBride decided to move his family into a part of Oakland that was known for its challenges in order to better understand the lives of the people he hoped to serve. What happened next, as Ben tells Eric in our latest episode of Let’s Hear It, is not just great storytelling, it’s what makes Ben such a powerful AND delightful advocate for social justice. (We won’t give away the ending, but it’s a GREAT story.)
Ben is now the co-director of PICO California, a grassroots organization that helps people of faith to build power to reshape their lives and their communities. He has been addressing the challenges of race and belonging for over a decade, and he sat down with Eric to have the kind of conversation that many people find difficult, if not impossible.
If you care about these issues, we think you’ll love this episode.
November 26, 2019
Lisa Witter has always played to win. Since coming into the world "with a bang" after her mother went into labor at a demolition derby, she has focused on the intersection of politics and communications. Running for president on Showtime's American Candidate, writing The She-Spot: Why Women are the Market For Changing the World and How to Reach Them with Lisa Chen, becoming the head of Fenton Communications at age 25. These are just a few of her wins.
As Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Apolitical, she has married behavioral science with public policy and created a peer-based learning platform to teach public servants the skills to help society flourish. Bureaucrats are not just people, she tells Eric, they control forty percent of global GDP.
By the way, she's also released a webinar entitled How to Persuade Others Using Behavioural Science. Believe us: after listening to Lisa, you'll be running to sign up for this master class.
She and Eric sit down to talk about her colorful career and how brain games help her do her job. It'll both entertain and teach you (just like Seinfeld's wife's beet chocolate cake), but most importantly, this episode may just change the way you think about communications for social change.
November 13, 2019
Drew Altman took a relatively small grantmaking foundation and transformed it into a media powerhouse. As the President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, better known as KFF, Drew has turned his organization into one of the most influential and valuable non-partisan sources of health news in the country. What other foundation can say that about their field of interest?
Drew sat down with Eric to talk about how Kaiser has charted new territory in the field of news media at a time when in-depth coverage of a host of important issues is becoming much harder to come by. And don’t miss Drew’s full-throated endorsement of the role that communications plays in advancing the goals of foundations and the nonprofits they support. It’s practically a love letter to communications!
October 31, 2019
Villy Wang's mother wanted her to be a corporate lawyer. Raised by a single mother in public housing in New York, she was supposed to be a hard-charging, successful professional - a leader in her field. And she certainly is, but what she created is not quite what her mother had in mind.
Villy is the Founder, President, and CEO of BAYCAT, a non-profit organization that takes youth development and education, media production, marketing and advertising, social entrepreneurship, job training, economic and community development, arts, music and urban culture, and throws it in a blender.
What comes out of that extraordinary mix is one of the most interesting, exciting ways to work with young people who deserve a chance to soar, as well as a company that produces media for a wide range of organizations and institutions.
Oh, and Villy (who, we are proud to say, is an avid listener of our show) is a hoot – she and Eric sat down at BAYCAT’s studios in San Francisco for a lively whirlwind of a conversation. Don’t miss this one.
October 24, 2019
This is the third in our bonus series of keynote speeches from ComNet 2019.
Trabian Shorters is the CEO and Founder of BMe Community, which provides fellowships for Black leaders in the US, and which trains organizations in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Trabian’s amazing talk explains his work to promote what he calls “asset framing” – describing people by their aspirations and talents rather than a perceived challenge or stereotype. If you are working in social justice in any way, shape, or form, you simply MUST listen to this incredibly valuable lesson in effective communications. This episode is long, but it’s worth it!
October 22, 2019
In 2018, Desmond Meade helped pull off the unthinkable. He united Florida voters by leading the campaign to pass Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative that restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. The initiative passed by nearly thirty percentage points – a rout in a state that is famous for being split down the middle.
The following year Desmond was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. In October of 2019, Desmond received the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award from the Communications Network. The award is presented to a leader who has used strategic communications and data to demonstrably elevate and advance issues, influence attitudes and beliefs, and inspire action in pursuit of social change.
In this special edition of Let’s Hear It, we present Desmond’s acceptance speech, which co-host Eric Brown called one of the “most exciting and meaningful twenty-seven minutes I have ever experienced.” Desmond tells the story of his own struggles with addiction, incarceration, and redemption, and leaves us all with an extraordinary lesson about how to unite people across their differences. You absolutely, positively don’t want to miss this episode.
October 9, 2019
Stacey Abrams is one of the most exciting and inspiring leaders of our time. Last week, she came to the Communications Network conference and gave the kind of speech that reminds us why we're in this business. Then she sat down with Communications Network CEO Sean Gibbons and took questions from the audience of a thousand people who had listened with rapt attention punctuated by explosions of laughter, applause, and gratitude.
If you missed this amazing event, we've captured it here for you. If you heard it and were blown away like so many others, you might like to listen again. In either case, it was an extraordinary moment.
September 25, 2019
We couldn’t resist – ComNet 19 is next week and we’re so excited that we’re bringing you a bonus edition of Let’s Hear It!
Eric spoke with two of the staff from the Communications Network who are helping to make it all happen this year - Carrie Clyne, Deputy Director of Events and Community, and Tristan Mohabir, who is Director of Operations and Editorial.
Carrie and Tristan talk about how they are helping everyone make connections and make the most out of this year’s ComNet – from first-timers like Carrie to seventeenth-timers like Eric. If you’re coming this year, this show is a great primer on how to make the most out of the conference. If you were one of the many who waited too long only to see the conference sell out yet again, Tristan and Carrie will inspire you to make sure you don’t miss out next time!
September 18, 2019
If you worked in foundation communications in the past thirty years, chances are that David Morse helped you – directly or indirectly. At the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and then the Atlantic Philanthropies, David helped advance the field of strategic communications like few others. Many of the modern concepts of communications strategy were born in his office or through the work of his consultants.
David sits down with Eric to talk about the legacy of Frank Karel, his predecessor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, how the field has developed over time, and he’ll give you a chuckle when discussing the freedom that working for a limited life foundation affords.
We recorded this conversation earlier in the year, so if you want to buy him a drink to ask him about the old days, you’ll have to go to Norway to do it – David has hung up his flak jacket and now sips aquavit on the fjords.
September 4, 2019
If you are interested in using communications for social change, the Communications Network Annual Conference is the single most exciting event of the year. From October 2-4, over a thousand foundation and nonprofit professionals will gather in Austin, Texas to learn from each other about how to use communications to make a difference.
Stefan Lanfer of the Barr Foundation and Jade Floyd of the Case Foundation are chair and co-chair, respectively, of ComNet, and they spoke to Eric about their lives, their work, barbeque, Lycra, Spiderman, Pose, and why they’re so excited about this year’s event.
August 14, 2019
Hunter Johansson could have easily traded on his twin sister Scarlett's fame for all kinds of rotten purposes. Instead, he co-founded a nonprofit to put solar panels on the roofs of first responder stations in Puerto Rico to save lives and protect the planet.
Hunter sat down with Eric to talk about why he co-founded Solar Responders, he speaks about the opportunities and challenges of having shared a womb with one of the planet's most recognizable people, and he explains the deep rewards that await people who are interested in dedicating themselves to the service of others.
Hunter is earnest, humble, and he’s a walking, talking cure for cynicism. Hear for yourself.
July 31, 2019
In five years as CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, Fred Blackwell has emerged as one of philanthropy’s foremost leaders dedicated to advancing racial and economic equity.
As a community foundation, the San Francisco Foundation is able to raise money, make grants, and do the kind of political advocacy that private foundations cannot. Fred and his colleagues have used these tools to focus on housing, jobs, protecting communities, and a host of related issues.
If all that responsibility seems intimidating, you’d never know it from talking with Fred, who never seems to break a sweat. With one of the easiest laughs in the business, Fred sits down with Eric to discuss his work, his hopes for the future, and how he has drawn upon generations of family wisdom to guide his decisions. It’s a terrific conversation in which Fred shares his optimism about how he thinks the country can emerge from these proverbial “challenging times” stronger and more connected.
July 17, 2019
Doniece Sandoval took a bit of time off from her career as a marketing and communications leader to take stock of her life and her future. Little did she know that she would be soon leading one of the most extraordinary social service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and that she would use her many skills to find new ways to connect with that region’s unhoused population.
Doniece launched an organization called Lava Mae, which provides mobile showers for some of the Bay Area’s most marginalized residents. By giving people a chance to feel clean, she is restoring dignity and providing hope to thousands of people in the San Francisco Bay Area and now Los Angeles. Even more than that, she is providing essential lessons to all of us about how to make deep meaningful connections through the power of stories.
Keep a hankie handy - these stories are amazingly powerful and deeply moving.
July 2, 2019
By the time Alfred Ironside arrived at the Ford Foundation in 2006, he had already had a career that most of us could hardly imagine – from leading disaster communications at the Red Cross to media relations at UNICEF, with stints in advertising in Bulgaria to a newspaper in Jerusalem to boot – Alfred Ironside may be the James Bond of communications.
As the Vice President for Global Communications at the Ford Foundation, Alfred is rolling all those skills and experiences into one exciting, strategic bundle. Alfred and Eric sit down at Mollie’s Pub in New York’s Gramercy Park neighborhood (where Eric’s grandmother used to drink) to discuss his career, what he’s learned, and the joys and challenges of running communications for one of the biggest and most complex foundations in the country. We REALLY think you won’t want to miss this one.
June 19, 2019
In June of 2016, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it would award a single $100 million grant to a single organization that was making a difference on a specific solution. They opened up a competition to allow organizations to vie for the award in a campaign they called 100&Change. The winner was the Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee, which created a project to help refugee children living in conflict areas in the Middle East.
Now, MacArthur is back with its second competition. In this episode of Let’s Hear It! we speak with Kristen Mack, Senior Communications Officer at MacArthur, and Jaison Morgan, CEO of Common Pool, the company that helps to design and conduct the competition.
Kristen talks with Eric about how she came to this field and about how MacArthur integrates communications throughout its work and especially into such a visible campaign (and the drinking habits of journalists.) Jaison talks about how competitions need to focus on transparency and feedback, and about the significant benefits that clear communications can have (and how he uses competition strategies in his parenting).
Join us for another fun and illuminating episode of Let’s Hear It!
June 5, 2019
Beth Kanter became a nonprofit social media phenomenon because she used a new technology – blogging – to take and share notes about her work. She became an expert on what makes a healthy workplace because she wasn’t feeling 100% and decided to write a book about how feeling good contributes to better functioning organizations. She was scared by math, so she wrote a book about how to measure results to slay that dragon and help others learn. Some people play Angry Birds on their phone in their spare time, and some people write best-selling books.
Let’s face it, Beth puts most of the rest of us to shame. It is no wonder that she is one of the most sought-after speakers, trainers, and authors on non-profit effectiveness anywhere.
Beth talks with Kirk (yes, Kirk!) about the fascinating contours of her career, the important steps that organizations need to take in order to thrive, and the seven stages of grief in measuring effectiveness.
Join us for this terrific conversation with one of the most colorful and interesting leaders of our field.
May 22, 2019
It’s hard to talk about Jim Canales without getting a little gushy. He’s generous, funny, and way too modest for someone who has spent more than two decades as an amazing leader in our field. And as the president of the Irvine president from 2003-2014 and the Barr Foundation since then, Jim has established himself as one of philanthropy’s very best communicators. Oh, and he’s also just incredibly nice.
Jim sits down with Eric (in a very fancy studio, we might add) to discuss his journey from high school English teacher to foundation executive, how he uses communications to advance the goals of the Barr Foundation, and his theory on who robbed the Gardner Museum in the greatest art heist in history (okay, not so much on that last bit).
We really think you’ll enjoy this episode with Jim, one of the best and brightest minds in philanthropy.