By Claire Clurman, SVP Boulder County Board member and former Executive Director of Attention Homes, a previous SVP investee
As a new board member for SVP Boulder County, I was excited to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the SVP Global Summit – an international gathering of more than 300 individuals representing a global network of SVP staff, corporate and nonprofit partners.
I was ready to soak up knowledge, learn more about other affiliates, and fill my toolbox with ideas and inspiration to bring back home.
The Summit did not disappoint. For three days in the beautiful and richly diverse city of Vancouver, our minds and identities were challenged by discussions around race and equity; connections and friendships were made; epicurean tastes explored; and a resounding call to be more effective as change makers in our local communities.
In reflecting on the Summit, there were three main takeaways. First, I was struck by the number of SVP Boulder County attendees – 15 in total representing Partners, board members and staff. We may have been the largest affiliate group, but what stood out for me was the rich culture of curiosity and learning that exists in our local SVP affiliate. Everyone was engaged and excited to be there – giving of their own personal resources to attend – and focused on accelerating change and impact. As we moved between sessions, we shared notes and highlighted what we wanted to bring back home.
Second, I learned that I have a lot of personal work to do when considering what it means to be a white ally to persons of color. “Deepening White Allyship” was a moving and emotional breakout session that exposed what white privilege looks like when you don’t have to think twice about your gender, housing status or race. Participants were able to safely acknowledge the learning, training and culture shift that needs to occur at every level in our SVP network – as well as our community – to create systemic change.
A quote from Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative was shared, deeply resonating with me: “For those who want to change the world, the first step is they must get proximate to the people who are suffering, who are being excluded, who are being disfavored and who are being incarcerated. We cannot change the world from a distance.” Transformation happens when power is re-distributed and shared – a consistent theme shared throughout the Summit.
Lastly, failure needs to be embraced more by funders, philanthropists and nonprofits as inevitable on the path towards true social impact. The new film “Failing Forward” was previewed, followed by a discussion that highlighted how a culture of continuous learning and improvement through data can deepen impact versus an over-emphasis on “success”-based on metrics. Just as for-profits manage risk with new product development, we need to allow nonprofits to embrace risk and potential failure with the support of their stakeholders to create lasting social change.
Attending the Global Summit reaffirmed my belief in SVP’s vision for a more vibrant community for all, and deepened my commitment to accelerating community impact in Boulder County by collectively working together on the front lines. I will definitely go back!
Photo: Amy Maranowicz, SVP Boulder County Partner and Board member; Claire Clurman, SVP Boulder County Board member; Barbara Truan, SVP Boulder County Partner