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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

B4 Breakout Session: Staying Adaptive in Collective Impact

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM–12:00 PM Central Time (US & Canada)
Arboretum 1-2 (Second Level)

The first article on collective impact appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review four years ago. Since then, the concept has taken on a life of its own. Many communities are trying to launch collective impact work or already are implementing their own initiatives. In this session, designed for grantmakers who are engaged in a collective impact initiative (or an effort similar in scope and intent), you will wrestle with whether or not these activities are yielding the results they were designed to achieve. Two of the people closely involved in the development of StriveTogether, one of the first exemplars of the collective impact model, will explain what they did, why they did it and how it compares to what is being done today. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your own experiences engaging in similar initiatives. You also will discuss in small groups how grantmakers keep learning together in an adaptive way around a good idea like collective impact without relying on it as a “silver bullet” approach.

Primary Points Of Contact

Marilyn, Darling

Session Designers

Marilyn Darling, Fourth Quadrant Partners


Marian Urquilla, Strategy Lift

Marian Urquilla serves as principal of Strategy Lift, a consulting practice focused on strategic planning, collective impact and leadership development. Current clients include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and The Workers Lab. From 2008 to 2012, she served as Director of Program Strategies at Living Cities, where she led the organization’s programmatic efforts and managed the Integration Initiative, a national program to revitalize neighborhoods and connect low-income people to opportunity. Prior to Living Cities, Ms. Urquilla led the Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative in Washington DC.  During her twelve-year tenure, Ms. Urquilla spearheaded the citywide implementation of family group decision-making and launched a youth violence prevention partnership that dramatically lowered Latino youth homicide rates in the city. Recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation as a Next Generation Leader, Ms. Urquilla has been a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow.

Jeff Edmondson, StriveTogether

Jeff Edmondson is managing director of StriveTogether, a national  initiative that brings together leaders in Pre-K-12 schools, higher education, business, industry, community organizations, government leaders, parents and other stakeholders who are committed to helping children succeed from birth through careers.

Edmondson was founding executive director of the Strive Partnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, a partnership of postsecondary, K-12, business, philanthropic, non-profit, and civic organizations aimed at increasing educational aspirations, achievement, and attainment of students throughout the region.

Edmondson also worked as the Peaceable Schools Coordinator at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, the largest public secondary school in Washington, D.C., whereas an advocate for teachers and students, he  built  partnerships between the school and the community to improve student outcomes.

Jeff was named the 2012 recipient of the American Express NGen Leadership Award, and was recently named a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur.

Marilyn Darling, Fourth Quadrant Partners

Marilyn Darling is a partner of Fourth Quadrant Partners and a founding member of the Society for Organizational Learning. She pioneered the field of Emergent Learning and has worked over the past 20 years to develop tools, practices and principles that link strategy, learning and evaluation around complex work. Emergent Learning emphasizes making thinking visible and providing frameworks to test it in real-time. Marilyn’s research has included the learning practices of the U.S. Army’s Opposing Force, as described in “Learning in the Thick of It,” Harvard Business Review. They created the After Action Review, which has become a cornerstone of Emergent Learning.  She has studied the learning practices of grantmakers, as reported in A Compass in the Woods: Learning through Grantmaking to Improve Impact. Marilyn’s recent clients include Annie E. Casey Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, Ford Foundation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Living Cities and The World Bank, among others.

Session Materials