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Speaker Lineup
Catalist National Conference Feb 23-25, 2020
Seattle, WA at Motif Hotel

Sunday, February 23: Dinner Keynote

Tricia Raikes, co-founder of the Raikes Foundation

The Raikes Foundation was established in 2002 and works toward a just and inclusive society where all young people have the support they need to reach their full potential. The foundation works at the systems level to ensure classrooms enable all students to thrive and to stem the flow of young people into homelessness. The foundation also recently launched an initiative to connect individual donors with the information and resources they need to achieve meaningful impact with their giving.

For the past few years the Raikes Foundation has been deeply invested in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization, through its programmatic work and through the philanthropic sector. During the conference, Tricia will draw upon experiences from her life tha have helped her and the foundation hone their focus on equity as the guiding principle for all their work. Please find more detailed information around their work in The Growth Mindset.

Tricia was recognized by President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change in 2009 for her work on youth homelessness, a Woman of Influence by Puget Sound Business Journal and was awarded the 2017 Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award by the Seattle Storm. Tricia’s professional background includes leadership of Creative Services at Microsoft Corporation. In addition to being a member of WaWF since 2009, Tricia was instrumental in the founding of the Catalist affiliate Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN), which adapted the WaWF model of collective giving grantmaking to a university setting.  

Monday, February 24: Breakfast Plenary

Merf Ehman, Executive Director, Columbia Legal Services

As executive director of Columbia Legal Services (CLS), Merf is leading organization-wide efforts to prioritize advocacy that supports community-led social justice movements that transform racialized systems and eradicate racism. Organizationally, Merf and CLS are focused on creating an adaptive organization that prioritizes anti-racist efforts internally and externally, and learning how to use our legal skills to support and build collective power around initiatives identified by the communities most impacted. Merf credits the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond for training, supporting, and challenging Merf and CLS staff on what it means to be an anti-racist organization and for informing the personal, internal work that Merf needs to do as a white person and leader. 

More than 25 years ago, Merf was a client in a welfare-to-work program at a local legal aid office, and now leads a legal aid organization working to change the world for the better. Merf’s life experience has been informed by other people believing that Merf could be more, and do more, than the limited options that felt available. People and institutions supported Merf in moving beyond the challenges of poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse to an unimaginably wonderful life. Merf wants those same organizations, people, and institutions to work toward ending racism so that all people enjoy a full life free from trauma and abuse.  Additionally, as you may have noticed, Merf prefers to be as pronoun free as possible.

Monday, February 24: Lunch Plenary

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma is a Seattle-based Writer, Speaker and Internet Yeller. Her work on social issues such as race and gender has been published in *The Guardian*, *The Stranger*, *Washington Post*, *ELLE Magazine*, *NBC News* and more. Her NYT bestselling first book, So You Want To Talk About Race, was released January 2018 with Seal Press. 

Monday, February 24: Dinner Plenary

Vashti Rutledge, Cincinnati Director, Family Independence Initiative

FII is building a movement to change the way low-income families are perceived and invested in, nationwide. Serving thousands of families, FII operates in communities coast to coast;  Portland, Oregon, Northern California, Albuquerque, Austin, New Orleans, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Rochester, Queens, and Boston/Cambridge.

After tracking hundreds of families over the past 15 years, the Family Independence Initiative (FII) discovered families were cycling in and out of poverty not due to a lack of initiative. Instead, the poverty cycle can be traced to well-intentioned but inadequate governmental and charitable policies and practices.

FII works to break the poverty cycle by learning about those they serve and providing platforms to accelerate social and economic mobility -- making poverty escapable.

One day all families across America will have access to all the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their goals and dreams.

Tuesday, February 25: Breakfast Plenary

Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Check out Vu's blog here!  nonprofitaf.com

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