Securing the Future header with Kishshana Palmer


April 26, 2024  |  8:00am-12:30pm 


About the Conference: 

Securing the Future is an annual, half-day conference dedicated to building the strategic, leadership, and resource development skills of the board, staff, and donors of the region’s nonprofits. This educational conference is designed to address the needs and concerns of board members and senior leadership. We are delighted to announce Kishshana Palmer as our Keynote Speaker. In addition to the keynote address, participants will have a chance to interact with peers and attend breakout sessions led by local speakers for a deeper dive into the keynote topic. 

Two people talking in an office

Leader to Leader Mentoring

Are you a new ED/CEO who needs some mentoring? This might be a fit for you!

Leader to Leader Mentoring Program - for NEW Executive Directors/CEOs as mentees and experienced Executive Directors/CEOs as mentors 

This exclusive benefit for Leadership Council members pairs new Executive Directors/CEOs with seasoned volunteer ED/CEOs. This opportunity is designed for executives new to their role, new to Greater Cincinnati, new to the nonprofit community or new to Leadership Council. Let someone who has walked in your shoes help guide you.

If interested, please reach out to


8:00 am Registration, Networking, Exhibitor Tables and Breakfast Buffet
8:30 am Intro and Keynote Speaker/Q&A
9:30  am Break, exhibitors, networking
9:45  am Breakout session #1 (choice of four)
10:45 am Break, exhibitors, networking
11:00 am Breakout session #2 (choice of four)
12:00 pm Open roundtables, exhibitors, networking
12:30 pm Adjourn


Our programming is designed for your mission and challenges. From small to large nonprofits organizations across the spectrum of our region, we have something for you!

Some of our programs are open to anyone and some are exclusive to Leadership Council members - learn more about the benefits of membership here.

Melissa Hall Sommer smiling and standing in front of a brick wall
Melissa Hall Sommer

Breakout Session 1: Cultivating a Culture of Team Development and Succession

Melissa Hall Sommer

Senior Vice President at Brighton Center

It has been almost 20 years since Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yet nonprofits still find themselves running after strategy while not investing in deliberatively cultivating their organizational culture. The result of this on the talent and “bench strength” of an organization effects their overall longevity and impact. In this session, we take a journey into team development and succession strategies that are “baked in” to the agency culture. You will be provided with tools to assess your culture, and explore how to deliberately cultivate a culture which team development and succession is evident and powerful.

Melissa Hall Sommer

Melissa Hall Sommer is currently the Senior Vice President at Brighton Center, a community-based agency providing a uniquely comprehensive range of programs and services to achieve its mission of self-sufficiency in northern Kentucky. Melissa’s career at Brighton Center began in 1989, during her tenure at the Center she has had the opportunity to lead program efforts in the areas of Workforce Development, Early Childhood Education, and Family Development. The foundation of this work has been a commitment to a family centered and a whole family approach. Melissa has worked to create a service continuum for families that builds on strengths and offers a pathway out of poverty, in order for them to reach their hopes and dreams.

2024 Securing the Future Advisory Committee

A conference like this needs lots of help! We could not put on Securing the Future each year without the help of an advisory committee from across our community. Please thank these volunteers for their help!

Megan Fischer Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank
Sandy Hatmaker Association Connection
Chara Fisher Jackson Cincinnati Preschool Promise
James Johnson Holly Hill Child & Family Solutions
Joan Kaup Freestore Foodbank
Colleen McSwiggin Recycling & Reuse Hub
June Miller Brighton Center
Cathy Rafales ProSeniors
Rosemary Schlacter 25th Hour
Beth Schwartz HER Cincinnati
Carol Serrone Girl Scouts of Western Ohio
LaTonya Springs Housing Opportunities Made Equal
Veronica Tollefson Pro Bono Partnership of OH
Terrie Puckett The Grail in the US
Lisa Raterman LA Raterman Associates
Celia Werner Association Connection


outdoor photo of man holding large unicorn stuffed animal
Vu Le poses with an unreal unicorn, symbol of the mythical expectations of nonprofit staff.

Vu Le (“voo lay”) writes the blog He is the former executive director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by supporting leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Vu is a founding board member of Community-Centric Fundraising, a movement that aims to ground fundraising practices in racial equity and social justice. Vu was born in Vietnam. He and his family came to the US when Vu was eight. He spent several years in Seattle, attending elementary and middle school, before moving to Memphis, Tennessee for high school and St. Louis for college and graduate school. He has a BA in Psychology and a Master in Social work. He is a vegan, a father of two kids (ages 10 and 7), and a staunch defender of the Oxford Comma.

You can stay up to date with Vu here:







Become a 2024 Securing the Future Conference Sponsor!

We are pleased to offer a range of sponsorship opportunities for the 2024 Securing the Future Conference, featuring keynote speaker Kishshana Palmer, breakout sessions, and exhibitor space. New opportunities this year include breakfast, break, and lunch sponsorship! 

Sponsorship is a great way to promote your product or services before, during, and after the conference to more than 350+ nonprofit executives, fundraisers, board members, funders, and community leaders.   

If you are interested in becoming a Securing the Future Conference sponsor, please download the Sponsorship Packages and form or contact Beth Benson.

Visit our Sponsors page to see who's already signed up!

Leaders Circles

Leadership Challenge 2023

Leadership Challenge 

3-Day Leadership Challenge® - Hope you can join us in 2024!

Leadership Council members-only exclusive opportunity

Previous event: October 2 thru October 4, 2023 at Camp Joy (two-night stay)

The Leadership Challenge® is an intense and interactive three-day program that helps you tap into your personal leadership skills through a variety of activities. As you'll come to learn through The Leadership Challenge, leadership isn't about titles. It's not about the position you hold. It's about the way you behave, the way you influence and the way you inspire. And each of you needs to serve as leaders as you work toward your shared vision. 

The past few years have been extraordinarily challenging for everyone, and especially nonprofits. You had to figure out dramatic new ways to serve people, obtain necessary funding and resources, and keep employees. Burnout and fatigue took their toll. Hopefully, the road ahead will be less COVID-impacted, but the number of and intensity of challenges will only continue to grow. 
This is why The Leadership Challenge is so important for you as a nonprofit leader right now. It will help you develop ways to find success in spite of the increasing difficulties you face.
4 things:
  1. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership you will learn are understandable, relevant, and applicable. Those who have already attended the program will tell you that they were able to immediately start leading in better ways.
  2. The 30-plus years of research supporting this model of leadership continues to this day. There are decades of evidence proving that the program leads to higher results.
  3. You leave the program with a number of options on how to lead more effectively, not simply with more work to do. It can actually reduce the feelings of overwhelm, which many are facing today.
  4. It is regarded as one of the premier leadership development programs, available around the world.
The Leadership Challenge® includes a 360 assessment, the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), which is a simple, 30-question inventory. The feedback it provides is very understandable and usable. It actually provides people with a solid roadmap for change. 
This is a great program for a few team members to participate in. Studies show that leadership development helps with employee experience and retention.
The program is limited to 24 participants and a max of 3 people per organization. We are proud to keep the program affordable for our members - this same program goes for upwards of $2,000 by other providers! This program is made possible by Wiley Publishing, International Leadership Associates, and Camp Joy as part of a “Gift of Leadership” program.

The below blocks are info from the previous page when Leaders Circles registration was live. These blocks have been updated on the live page to remove registration information.

A Force for Good

Programming and resources to attract, nurture, and develop the nonprofit workfore in our region.

Breakout session descriptions coming soon!

Your morning includes hot breakfast and snacks at the break.

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Jai'La Nored

VUCA Leader:  Vision, Understanding, Clarity, & Agility
This award recognizes an early-career leader in the Greater Cincinnati nonprofit sector who is positively impacting their organization and the community through demonstrated:

Vision, Understanding, Clarity & Agility (VUCA+)
while operating in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous (VUCA-) world

Jai’La Nored, Council on Aging, Senior Innovation Designer
In her role as Senior Innovation Designer at Council on Aging, Jai’La has managed development — in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati’s Live Well Collaborative — of two game-changing, original technologies that have the potential to be scaled and adopted for statewide or national use to make a notable difference to older adults and caregivers who require the support of help at home but aren't able to secure it due to a nationwide aide shortage. As a result of this partnership, Live Well has tapped COA as a subject matter expert to inform their other endeavors, including a project with Procter & Gamble related to older adults, hygiene and personal care.

Jai'La has also led the development and implementation of COA’s employee intranet and other projects that have touched all COA’s programs in some way. She has become a sought-after resource within COA when a creative solution is required to fix a problem or launch a new service.

Jai’La is actively engaged in volunteer leadership roles where she organizes and advocates on behalf of those whose needs aren’t being met and at-risk individuals and communities, including Xavier University, Community Matters, Rosemary's Babies Co., and Girls with Grit.

Program Overview

  • Monthly meetings (generally 90 minutes) September through May
  • 6-10 nonprofit leaders grouped by role or responsibility
  • Participants commit to meeting real-time challenges and creating solutions
  • Meeting time and location (including virtual options) determined by each group and facilitator
  • Skilled facilitation by a professional volunteer

NOTE:  this program is an exclusive benefit for Leadership Council nonprofit organization members - please verify your 2023 membership before registering.

Conference Registration:

$75 Leadership Council Members*

$75 Leadership Council Sponsors

$100 Non-members

*PLEASE NOTE: The "Member Rate" is for Leadership Council for Nonprofits Member Organizations, and their staff.  If you are not sure if your organization is a member, please send an email to: and we’ll gladly check for you, or click here for a list of current member organizations. If you have not renewed, you may join or renew now.

Chrissy Perkins smiling
Chrissy Perkins

Breakout Session 2: Inclusion for Employees with Disabilities and Neurodiversity

Chrissy Perkins

Director of Disabilities Programming and Career Coach at JVS Careers

Organizations often view DEI as a number they need to meet to be compliant, versus truly understanding ways they can successfully support a person with a disability in the job they hire them to do. Our society continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of what disability and neurodiversity is, and if you can’t see the disability, then it may feel “scary” to a hiring manager. So many organizations do not allow “job coaching” or other supports into their business to help people who are neurodiverse. This often leads to placement of individuals with disabilities in organizations without educating the team they will be working with so that all can be successful.

This session will help participants identify why it is so important not only to support a person with a disability, but to support the organization that hires them. A simple miscommunication or a different way one interprets things can make a difference in a person being successful in their employment. Participants will learn the importance of employer education, communication, consistency, team building, and important ways to promote inclusion in all aspects of employment. How do we support people who are neurodiverse and promote long term success, what are the barriers faced, and how can we overcome and change society’s perception of people who are neurodiverse.

Chrissy Perkins

Chrissy is Director of Disability Services and a Career Coach for JVS Careers. She has a more than 30-year work history of supporting individuals with disabilities. Chrissy brings a high level of passion and commitment to the world of disabilities and assisting individuals in reaching their full potential and becoming successful in employment. In her previous role she was the Director of Disability Services and developed, implemented, and managed multiple community programs that provided job readiness training, integrated opportunities, and on the job supports to the neurodivergent population. She has a vast network of connections with community employers and partners and is skilled in identifying learning styles, strengths, abilities, and specific needs of people to help with making good job matches.

image of speaker, sponsor, and event partners

Nonprofit Leadership Summit

Leadership Council is pleased to partner with sponsor Barnes Dennig and Association for Fundraising Professionals to host an informative, educational, and engaging nonprofit summit. Held annually, we hope you can join us in 2024!

Previous event: October 11, 2023

Keynote speaker Alida Miranda-Wolff gave a wonderfully informative talk on treating burnout with belonging. In the interactive workshop, we learned:

  • What causes burnout
  • The relationship between burnout and belonging
  • The three “Rs” of creating belonging on your teams
  • How to use the basic tools of belonging to prevent and treat burnout in your organization
headshot photo
Jack Geiger

Visionary Board Leader
This award honors an established and proven board member of a nonprofit organization in the Greater Cincinnati region who has led their organization through transformational change, weathered difficult circumstances, or demonstrated outstanding vision and achievement.

Jack Geiger, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, Immediate Past Board Chair
Like many organizations, CYC was impacted by COVID. CYC also experienced the loss of a significant grant that led to the layoff of 8 people (16% of the organization) and went through a challenging leadership transition. During a vacancy in the CEO role, Jack jumped in as the interim CEO to help lead the organization through this difficult time. He went way above and beyond as a volunteer to help stabilize relationships with critical partners, donors, and staff members.

His nominator, CYC CEO Amy Thompson said, “Jack has role modeled and taught us about: conflict resolution, relationship building, employee development, improving the culture, donor connections, follow up, embracing a strategic mindset and focus, and so much more. CYC is a mentoring organization and Jack embraces this to the core. Jack has mentored younger board members including a future board chair. Jack has enhanced board members, staff and students’ leadership capabilities. Jack is constantly making connections to other organizations to help the organization collaborate and have greater community impact. and impact.”

Attendance Policy

Consistent attendance is a crucial element to the trust built in Leaders Circles. Please ensure that you can commit to a meeting a month for nine months. The meeting time will be determined by each Circle with their facilitator before meetings begin. Refunds will not be issued after meetings start. If you miss more than two consecutive meetings, you may be asked to step away from the Circle.

Contact with questions


Check out this article from Harvard Business Review on the value of a peer to peer coaching program.

Interested in facilitating?

Each year, we need a few new volunteer facilitators for our Leaders Circle program. You can find out more about the role here. If this is something that interests you, please reach out to our Executive Director at

2023-24 Leaders Circles are currently in progress. Registration for the next program year will open in June 2024.

Join our waiting list to be notified when 2024 registration opens. 

Breakfast Sponsor

Brice Mickey smiling, seated at a table
Brice Mickey

Breakout Session 3: Not About Us Without Us

Brice Mickey

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Beech Acres Parenting Center

As the brilliant Ayanna Pressley says, “Those closest to the pain, should be closest to the power.” Too often nonprofits (and other institutions) are guilty of making decisions on behalf of others without inviting them to the table. This can have a myriad of negative consequences not only for the success of the project, but for institutional trust and communities those institutions serve.

In this interactive session, participants will have the opportunity for dialogue around areas where they are the experts and areas where they should invite in others. We will also explore best practices in terms of securing buy-in (and even championship) from the communities they serve.

Brice Mickey

Brice Mickey is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Beech Acres Parenting Center.​ He also consults with Cohear and Avant Consulting Group. He got his start in DEI at the University of Cincinnati where he joined and later directed their nationally renowned Racial Awareness Program (RAPP). ​After leaving UC he went on to consult with over 100 organizations across the country to help them become more equitable and just. ​He loves road trips, fine dining, and the Golden Girls.​

Program Overview

  • Monthly meetings (generally 90 minutes) September through May
  • 6-10 nonprofit leaders grouped by role or responsibility
  • Participants commit to meeting real-time challenges and creating solutions
  • Meeting time and location (including virtual options) determined by each group and facilitator
  • Skilled facilitation by a professional volunteer

NOTE: This program is an exclusive benefit for Leadership Council members.

orange graphic with the letters AI

Breakout Session 4: AI "Speed Round"

A series of local speakers will share “quick hits” about where AI is proving useful to nonprofits. There will be plenty of time for Q&A and sharing your own ideas.

ArtWorks logo

Inclusive Culture
This award recognizes a nonprofit organization that is welcoming at every level to every individual.

To support its first formal board-approved DEIA plan, ArtWorks formed a DEIA committee, engaged an outside practitioner to help staff heighten cultural awareness, and in 2022 participated in the Ellequate Equity Certification Program which is focused on equity-centered action plans and data-driven insights. ArtWorks’ participation in the Ellequate program resulted in a silver level certification award which signified that the organization achieved significant progress in creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Through the Ellequate program ArtWorks assessed policies and practices and engaged staff to identify core strengths and growth areas. They created an individual and family leave policy to promote flexible support to help employees thrive professionally without sacrificing important and essential obligations. The policy includes paid maternity and paternity leave up to 12 weeks, medical leave up to 12 weeks and family care leave up to 6 weeks. Priorities for 2023-2024 were established that include standardized recruiting and interviewing processes to eliminate unconscious bias, articulation of flexible work options that are perceived as equitable for all roles, development of a transparent, standardized, and objective promotion policy, set leadership diversity targets, and enhanced internal and external communications that use inclusive and accessible language that welcomes all.

Since the implementation of the plan, there has been an increase over two years in BIPOC board representation from 13% to 33% and an increase over two years in BIPOC administrative staff representation from 7% to 38%. Both seasonal and year-round staff participate in cultural awareness training, with a cultural assessment and 1:1 coaching for all new year-round administrative hires. Seasonal employment includes the employment of 55% BIPOC young artists and 50%+ BIPOC teaching artists over a three-year period. Mental health 101 training is required for all staff working with young people and professional mental health resiliency training is provided to young people participating in ArtWorks programs.

Sponsorship Opportunities:
If your company or foundation would like to support leadership development for nonprofits and gain visibility in the nonprofit economy, check out our Sponsorship Opportunities!

Leaders Circle quote

Circles available:

  • Executive Director/President/CEO
  • CFO or equivalent
  • COO, VP of Operations, or equivalent
  • CDO, Development Director, or equivalent
  • CHRO, Human Resource Director or equivalent
  • CMO, Communications/Marketing Director, or equivalent
  • Volunteer Manager or Coordinator
  • IT Director or equivalent
  • Program Director/Manager

We do our best to match similar positions and similarly sized organizations. Please select the group that most aligns with your current position or area of responsibility, regardless of your title.

Typically, we only form a Circle if at least six participants register. If you request a group that does not fill up, we will offer the opportunity to join a different type of group, or refund your registration fee.

Registration Fee

Like membership dues, Leaders Circle fees are on a sliding scale to keep them affordable for all sizes of organizations, and is based on annual revenue from the most recent IRS Form 990 or 990EZ. 

Annual Revenue Fee per participant
< $250,000 $50
$250,001 - $500,000 $75
$500,001 - $2,000,000 $100
$2,000,001 - $5,000,000 $125
$5,000,001 - $10,000,000 $150
$10,000,001 - $20,000,000 $175
$20,000,001 + $200


Kishshana Palmer
Kishshana Palmer

Keynote Speaker: Kishshana Palmer

Kishshana Palmer is an international speaker, trainer, and coach with a 20+ year background in fundraising, marketing, and talent management who helps leaders create high performing teams. 

Kishshana is CEO of ManageMint, Inc., an organizational development firm focused on helping everyday leaders live well and lead well. Her firm's work centers on equity and social justice and practical solutions for today’s organizations. She is the founder of The Rooted Collaborative -- a global community focused on the growth and development of women leaders of color in the social sector. She's the host of the podcast ManageMint Made Easy, formerly "Let's Take This Offline", an adjunct professor at Baruch College, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer (CGT), A Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, a Q3LC Certified Coach and an AFP Master Trainer. When an organization wants to grow, find and retain people on their team, raise money, and more she is the fairy godmother they have on speed dial. Her work isn’t limited to organizations, she also coaches high performing leaders. 

Kishshana is a NYC girl now living in Atlanta and mother of one wonderful teenage daughter. Kishshana is the epitome of your classic 90's Queens homegirl and quintessential corner office executive. She is your daily dose of Claire Huxtable with a side of Blanche Devereaux. 

You can stay up to date with Kish here: 


Leaders Circle quote

Attendance Policy

Consistent attendance is a crucial element to the trust built in Leaders Circles. Please ensure that you can commit to a meeting a month for nine months. The meeting time will be determined by each Circle with their facilitator before meetings begin. Refunds will not be issued after meetings start. If you miss more than two consecutive meetings, you may be asked to step away from the Circle.

Contact with questions.

Check out this article from Harvard Business Review on the value of a peer to peer coaching program.

Interested in facilitating?

Each year, we need a few new volunteer facilitators for our Leaders Circle program. You can find out more about the role here. If this is something that interests you, please reach out to our Executive Director at

Past Keynote Speakers:

2023: Vu Le

2022: Pearl Alexander

2021: Vanessa Mason

2020: Barry Posner

2019: Alton Fitzgerald White

2018: Bob Johansen

2017: Vu Le

2016: Amanda Maria Navarro

2015: Jason Saul

2014: Paul Alofs; Nell Edgington

2013: Randall Moss; Amy Sample Ward

2012: Dan Pallotta

2011: Paul Carttar/Rosetta Thurman

2010: Peter Goldberg; David Kuehler; Rich Boehne

2009: Bob Johansen; Jan Masaoka

2008: Ruby Payne; Carol Weisman

2007: Paul Light; William Butler

2006: Jerr Boschee; James Votruba

2005: Elizabeth Beresford; Peter Block

2004: Bernard Ross; Claire Gaudiani

2003: Norma Hotaling; Peter Benson

2002: Doug Hall; Kathy Merchant

2001: Francis Hesselbein

The Leaders Circle program is made possible through the generous sponsorship of

Media Sponsor

Break Sponsor - available!