Why #CFP14 Was So Special to Me

by Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer

Attendees during #CFP14 Session Social Innovation: Change Made Differently | Credit: JKDowd Media
Attendees during #CFP14 Session Social Innovation: Change Made Differently | Credit: JKDowd Media

Have you ever had a moment where you envision something happening and when it happens better than you dreamed, you have to pinch yourself? Yeah, well that was me this past weekend with the Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summit.

So far in my life I have had epic moments to occur but because I’m moving so fast while they are happening, I forget they happened or they become a blur and all I remember is it happening with no real memories to hold on to. I told myself (and quietly to God too) that I wanted to remember this year’s Summit. I wanted to walk away experiencing it for myself not just feeling relieved it was over.

Since January I, along with my planning team, put the vision of the Summit together. Through all of the bumps in the road, I never doubted how impactful the Summit would be. We knew exactly what we wanted attendees to get out of the weekend and created interactive, fun-filled, high-energy ways to make it all happen. From deciding to have the kick-off with favorite, Mike Muse to developing our very first mock pitch competition, we just knew this year would be special. I, however, had no idea how special it would be.

The week before the Summit I had your typical conference planning jitters. I called logistics manager, Samantha pretty much every hour on the hour checking and double checking everything. I called PR manager, DeAnne whenever I felt led to vent over the latest WTF moment. I g-chatted webmaster, Tammy with randomness related or unrelated to the Summit overall. And of course, I called my mama, TJC, at least four times a day- which is not atypical but I actually had something of substance to say. Then all of a sudden a day or two before the Summit, I began to feel a sense of peace. I wasn’t sure what I could attribute it to but I just knew everything was going to go off without a hitch.

And it did.

A special moment with Vanessa Cooksey from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. | Credit: JKDowd Media
A special moment with Vanessa Cooksey from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. | Credit: JKDowd Media

From the moment Kelly Brinkley, COO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, greeted our attendees on Friday morning, I began to see the vision unfold. Every dream, every vision I had about #CFP14 came to life in front of my eyes for the next 48 hours. I couldn’t believe it. Not to mention the number of encouraging tweets, texts and emails I received from friends and supports…it was so overwhelming. I will neither confirm nor deny if I got a bit choked up during a speech or two but my emotions were running high. To see your dream literally become a reality left me humbled and surprisingly, speechless.

I knew in 2010, when I started Friends of Ebonie as a blog that I was called to influence my peers. Now, nearly four years later (we’ll be four in December), I understand how important and needed this platform is for emerging young black civic leaders. I thank you for the opportunity to share with you what I know and to be able to provide the access and resources to connect you with so much more.

Thank you to all of the attendees, presenting sponsors Wells Fargo Advisors and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, organizational partners, and in-kind donors for making #CFP14 a reality. This year’s Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summit was truly the manifestation of a dream even I didn’t know was possible.

The video and pictures will be up very soon! Stay tuned! Make sure you check out #CFP14 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for highlights.

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