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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

W4 Skill-Building Workshop: Investing in Capacity to Work with Communities

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM–12:00 PM Central Time (US & Canada)
Arboretum 1-2 (Second Level)

The surge of interest around collective impact and other forms of collaboration highlights an important concern for many grantmakers and nonprofit practitioners: Where does the community fit in? Even with a growing number of resources on how to collaborate effectively, involving community members and beneficiaries in an authentic way remains a challenge. As a result, some collaborative initiatives receive criticism for being too “top-down” or offering solutions that are not informed by community experiences. As a funder of several place-based, cross-sector partnerships, Living Cities has explored how grantmakers can best invest in the capacity of grantees and their own organizations to better involve residents and community groups, and integrate community feedback into the design and execution of programs. In this session, you’ll hear from Living Cities and two of its cross-sector partners about what types of capacity are needed for effective community engagement. You’ll also put these lessons into practice by designing a hypothetical community engagement strategy for yourself or your grantees. This small-group exercise along with facilitated conversations will illuminate both the primary challenges associated with involving community members and best practices for investing in these capacities to support grantees.

Primary Points Of Contact

Jeff, Raderstrong

Session Designers

Jeff Raderstrong, Living Cities


Jeff Raderstrong, Living Cities

Jeff Raderstrong joined Living Cities in May 2014 as Program Associate on The Integration Initiative. Jeff’s role for TII is to capture lessons learned from sites for sharing with Living Cities' members and the field more broadly. Before coming to Living Cities, Jeff worked as an Associate at Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), where he led the assessment of its nonprofit portfolio. He also supported VPP’s communications activities, including the launch of Leap of Reason, a book on nonprofit outcomes management, and Capital Kids, the first report on the state of children and youth in the DC area. Jeff also worked as a consultant, helping organizations disseminate digital products. He founded UnSectored, a community platform for re-thinking social change, and co-founded the Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell (SEG), which is now a functioning microfinance institution with an over $30,000 portfolio. Jeff is currently pursuing his Masters of Public Administration at George Washington University.

Frank Mirabal, City of Albuquerque

Dr. Frank Mirabal has over 20 years experience designing and implementing high-impact collaborative strategies with local communities.  Currently, Dr. Mirabal is serving as the Director of Collective Impact for Mayor Richard J. Berry in the City of Albuquerque.  In this role, Dr. Mirabal focuses on engaging historically marginalized groups and cross-sector partners in problem solving using collective impact as a fundamental approach.  Dr. Mirabal earned a Ph.D in Educational Leadership from New Mexico State University and lives in Albuquerque with his multi-generational family. 

Theresa Gardella, Nexus Community Partners

Theresa serves as Director of Strategic Development for Nexus Community Partners, a community building intermediary whose mission is to “build more engaged and powerful communities” throughout the Twin Cities region. As Director of Strategic Development, Theresa oversees the organization’s development, evaluation and communication activities, ensuring Nexus is advancing its mission and achieving its goals. In addition, Theresa leads the Building the Field of Community Engagement initiative, a cross-cultural collaborative designed to magnify and elevate the power of community engagement. She has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from American University in Washington, DC and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Connecticut. 

Session Materials