Connections Conference Program

The Connections Conference 2019 included a balance of plenary and breakout sessions, networking time, and a resource marketplace. The theme - adaptive - supported nonprofit sector resiliency and responsiveness to change. Expert speakers and thought leaders challenged our perceptions, provided us with new skills, and built a shared understanding of how the nonprofit sector can become adaptive in the face of unpredictable times and challenges in securing resources.

What does adaptive capacity mean for your organization? Connections Conference 2019 kickoff speaker Juan Carlos Eichholz, gives an insightful illustration of the concept in the video below, along with current examples of organizations effectively, and successfully, adapting to their environments.


Connections Conference 2019 Program Overview


Plenary sessions


Adaptive Capacity

Speaker: Juan Carlos Eichholz

Our changing world requires organizations to develop an ability to adapt to change, and to do so rapidly, intelligently, and effectively. In conversation with David Mitchell, Adaptive Capacity author and expert, Juan Carlos Eichholz will share a set of practical tools and ideas that you can begin using immediately to understand and develop the adaptive capacity of your organization.


Adaptive Advocacy

Speakers: Cathy Taylor and Bruce MacDonald

How can nonprofit organizations and the sector as a whole best adapt advocacy efforts in the lead-up to elections, during election campaigns, and following elections? ONN’s Cathy Taylor will share lessons learned from the recent Ontario provincial election, and Bruce MacDonald will share Imagine Canada’s approach to the upcoming federal election.


Adaptive Economies

Speaker: Todd Hirsch, Moderator: Eva Friesen

The nonprofit sector contributes over $9.6 billion to Alberta’s GDP and $29 billion in total revenue to the Alberta economy. Economist Todd Hirsch, in discussion with Eva Friesen, will share his insights into the economic impact of the recent recession in our province and the adaptive traits that help us thrive when unwanted change comes our way to ensure the nonprofit sector remains a vital contributor to Alberta’s economy.

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Adaptive Policy

Moderator: Allan Northcott, Panelist: Anne McLellan, Panelist: Nancy Reynolds

Despite the central role of public policy in social change, nonprofit professionals often struggle with their role in policy work. Allan Northcott will lead a discussion with Anne McLellan and Nancy Reynolds on policy making in Alberta and how it's changing in a dynamic, polarized environment.


Breakout sessions


Adaptive Learning

Speaker: Elizabeth Dozois

This session will explore the basics of adaptive learning, including: what it is, why it’s critical to our work, what prevents us from learning, thinking and acting in systemic-adaptive ways, and what it takes for us to overcome these barriers. Develop a deeper understanding thinking at a systems level, enhance your ability to avoid ‘fixes that fail’ and implement more adaptive approaches to complex social issues.


Adaptive Leadership

Moderator: Jim Dewald, Panelist: Denise Blair, Panelist: Anila Lee Yuen, Panelist: Adam Legge

Building your leadership toolkit in increasingly complex and changing environments requires considering new paths and skills for today’s leaders. Leadership expert, Jim Dewald will facilitate a discussion with Denise Blair, Anila Lee Yuen, and Adam Legge, to share insights on developing the culture you want, with the people you need, to achieve your mission.


Adaptive Governance

Speaker: Yvonne Chenier

From creating a social enterprise as a new revenue source, to engaging volunteers, organizations can be chameleons too. However, legislation and regulation, an important component of nonprofit governance, is often misaligned with organizational needs in today’s rapidly changing world. In this session, Yvonne will share her wisdom about the difference between what is legally required, and what ways you can adapt the governance structure of your organization – and still be compliant.

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Adaptive Philanthropy

Moderator: Sue Tomney, Panelist: Scott Decksheimer, Panelist: Krishan Mehta

A restricted funding environment, new competition with for-profit businesses, and shifting power and transparency are creating significant challenges for nonprofits to be financial sustainable. In this session, Sue Tomney will speak with Scott Decksheimer and Krishan Mehta to delve into the trends behind these changes and how nonprofits can adapt to, and benefit from them.

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Adaptive Data

Moderator: James Stauch, Panelist: Robyn Blackadar, Panelist: Ryan Burns, Panelist: Lise Rivais

This session will answer your questions and curiosities about how data can help improve implementation of your programs and advance your work. Moderated by James Stauch, this rich panel discussion with Robyn Blackadar, Ryan Burns, and Lise Rivais, will help you understand how to access and use data to advance your work. Get insights into the potential of data to inform your decision-making.