Community Development

Closing Remarks: 2020 Collective Impact Virtual Convening

May 8, 2020  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered closing remarks at the Collective Impact Virtual Convening hosted by the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and FSG on Friday, May 8, 2020. Follow him on Twitter @DanPorterfield.

Thank you to Sheri, Jen, Tracy, FSG and the whole team for creating this virtual convening of more than 500 changemakers—and to Steve Patrick, Monique Miles, and the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose mission is to drive change toward a free, just, and equitable society. We do that by fostering inclusive, action-oriented dialogue, building networks of leaders from all walks of life, and pressing for solutions in partnership with those we seek to serve.

Our organization employs about 470 people, all of whom are working for equity, inclusion, system change, and new narratives that seek to disrupt the stereotypes and false choices of the past.

We see communities as collections of assets and not collections of problems. And we believe, with Dr. King, that we are all bound in inescapable networks of mutuality.

This forum reflects the best of our work and the best of our country.

It’s so inspiring to see changemakers zooming in from Buffalo and Austin, from Delaware and North Carolina, from Sioux Falls and Minneapolis.

I so wish we could be together in the same room because the collective wisdom, passion, and reach of this network would raise any roof.

What’s clear is that this gathering on collective impact is not a meeting but a movement. Together, you are creating new ways to drive and sustain change. I was inspired by the range of topics that we’ve worked on over the past few days: like the difference between “engaging” and authentic “engagement,” or the qualities of “future-focused leadership,” or the ways to use data to support and then scale collective impact.

Each of you is rolling up your sleeves to make differences in your communities right now—and at the same time you see the value of stepping back from the daily work to connect across regions and professions and focal points in order to build a field and build a movement.

I know what a difference it would make to be sitting next to one another, but I hope this experience of Zooming in together has the same catalyzing and nourishing power for you as you leave the conference prepared to return to the work of your souls and your communities.

COVID-19 is a horrific global tragedy whose impacts hurt all but land with disproportionate force upon the lives and dreams of the vulnerable. If ever there was a time for co-creation, for system change, and for collective impact it’s right now.

We at the Aspen Institute stand with you in your struggle to build a free, just, and equitable society. We’re energized by the quality of your work and the sightlines you provide into the beautiful communities that make up our multicultural and intersectional America.

70 years ago, Ralph Ellison wrote: “America is woven of many strands…Our fate is to become one, and yet many.” We haven’t reached that inclusive promised land—but clearly the collective impact movement is the motor and the means and the method.

I’m very proud to be associated with your work and with this community, and am also proud to introduce our closing speaker, Trabian Shorters, who is the founder of BMe Community and a lifelong drum major for justice.

He is a New York Times bestselling author and a leading authority on an approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, and impact called “Asset-Framing.” A leading social entrepreneur, he is a recipient of Ford Foundation and Ashoka fellowships, as well being a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. He is also a retired tech entrepreneur, former vice president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a proud father.

Please join me in welcoming Trabian Shorters.