BreakThrough Sessions

You can always count on change—and on your ability to face it, with the help of groundbreaking ideas and fresh ways of thinking.

Everything is changing—from demographics to communications to fundraising methods to nonprofit business models themselves. Showcasing cutting-edge concepts and approaches essential to nonprofit success today, our eight BreakThrough Sessions will explore the potential of Impact Investing, give you a “Brandraising” new perspective on marketing, map the steps to a powerful Fundraising Board, examine the practical lessons of a Servant Leadership philosophy, and more.

Breakthrough Sessions include 1-hour interactive learning sessions designed to engage and ignite.  Focused on topics key to nonprofit success, including: Fundraising; Board Governance; Social Enterprise; Nonprofit Sustainability; Marketing, PR & Social Media; 22nd Century Leadership (Emerging & Experienced); Technology; Volunteerism

2013 BreakThrough Sessions

PenelopeCagney_web Breaking the Rules: How the World is Remaking Philanthropy and Fundraising

Penelope Cagney, President | The Cagney Company

Each day, philanthropists, nonprofits, and fundraisers are reinventing the funding of our sector. Based on her research in 10 regions around the globe, Penelope Cagney will show participants the great fundraising ideas coming to us from outside of the U.S., and why U.S. nonprofits need to raise their global awareness. This session will focus on seven global trends that are remaking the nonprofit world, plus important issue areas like major donors, technology, innovation, and the “charity giants.”

Penelope Cagney has 25 years of experience in planning, development and governance. She began her nonprofit management career at one of the largest healthcare institutions in Chicago and soon after dedicated herself to consulting. She spent seven years with one of the largest consulting firms to nonprofits and was a member of their long-distance learning faculty. She has helped organizations achieve significant financial and organizational objectives. Cagney is also the author of “Global Fundraising: How the World is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy” and “Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Every Nonprofit and Consultant Needs to Know.”  READ MORE

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Brandraising: Raising Visibility Through Smart Communication
Dan Gunderman, Creative Director | Big Duck
As you expand your suite of online and offline communications tools, how do you ensure your staff are all speaking with one voice? Based on Sarah Durham’s book, Brandraising, this workshop will help organizations develop a unique positioning and personality by explaining how online communications connect to other channels (on-air, in print, in person, and mobile), how to keep all of your work on the same track, and how branding can help you reach your goals—in fundraising, outreach, and advocacy. You’ll leave with tools to improve your communications and make sure they align with every aspect of your organization.

Dan Gunderman is Big Duck’s Creative Director. A Sarah Lawrence College graduate, Dan got his start as a copywriter in the corporate world, working as marketing coordinator at the Jim Henson Company. He joined the agency world at Upshot New York, where he worked on such brands as Seagram Americas, Coca-Cola, Mirage Resorts, and more. Since joining Big Duck in 2006, Dan has brought his creative skills to clients like Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, the Prospect Park Alliance, and the New York City Charter School Center.  READ MORE

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Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities
Sarah Robinson, CEO | Sarah Robinson Co.
Building communities of “fiercely loyal” brand ambassadors is one of the hottest marketing topics today. Organizations that are succeeding in today’s turbulent economic times have mastered the ability to build and sustain strong, loyal communities, but many leaders don’t have a measurable, real-world model for creating and sustaining it. This exciting, interactive workshop with best-selling author and business strategist Sarah Robinson will give you the knowledge and tools to develop and grow your own Fiercely Loyal community, including the fundamental “DNA” of all Fiercely Loyal communities, how to assess the current state of your community, and how to apply the Fierce Loyalty methodology to build and maintain their own Fiercely Loyal communities. Don’t miss the opportunity to receive on-the-spot coaching and a Taking It Home Action Plan with specific steps you can use right away to start strengthening your supporters!

Sarah Robinson is President and CEO of Sarah Robinson Co. She is a seasoned business coach, strategist, advisor and speaker who helps leaders set their organizations apart from the pack. Sarah advises her international clients on how to build a thriving, successful community, how to increase social media effectiveness, and how to develop a remarkable online and offline presence. Sarah’s ability to create and build Fierce Loyalty has been recognized across many media channels, including being ranked No. 47 on Dun & Bradstreet’s list of the Most Influential Small Business Experts on Twitter, listed in Forbes Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship, quoted by, and other leading industry publications and profiled on AmEx Open.  READ MORE

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Are You Doing What You Do Best?
Jeff Russell – CEO | Jitasa
In the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Steven Leavitt’s Freakonomics, Jeff Russell introduces the concept of “comparative advantage,” a powerful, honest, and courageous new way to think about aligning and inspiring teams, and leveraging collaborative relationships with other nonprofits or service providers. He will show participants how the ability to admit weakness can be a strength, and why it’s important to stop the “persistence of ignorance.”

Jeff Russell is the CEO of Jitasa, a certified B Corporation dedicated to supporting the nonprofit sector. Jitasa provides managed finance and accounting services to 200+ nonprofits nationwide. Prior to Jitasa, Jeff managed a Fortune 500 shared service center and was the Executive Director for an International Development nonprofit. Jeff is the author of “Do What You Do Best: Outsourcing as Capacity Building.” Jeff is a Georgia Tech Industrial Engineer and received his MBA from the Yale School of Management.  READ MORE

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Beyond Grants & Philanthropy: An Exploration of Social Impact Investing
Quinetha Frasier, Social Enterprise Funding Strategist | Social Mission Architects
Darrell Glasco, Social Enterprise Funding Consultant | Social Mission Architects

In its broadest sense, social impact investing is about innovative solutions to social problems. Social impact investing is part of an important philanthropic trend—including social entrepreneurship, crowdsourcing, and sustainability—emphasizing mindful investment in solutions, rather than cash-for-problems transactions. Social impact investing gives nonprofits the option to engage with these new philanthropists, which will add to their vitality and create opportunities to harness innovation, enterprise, and creative capitalism. This session will introduce the concept of social impact investing: who are the major stakeholders, how Georgia’s social ventures can attract more investment, and what investors can expect from high-performing nonprofits as they seek a blended return on their financial and social investments.

From rural Charleston, SC to the White House, ‘Q’ has a unique gift and commitment to building communities and people. She has dedicated her life to helping nonprofits, individuals and organizations obtain the resources to fund their vision. A graduate of The Grantsmanship Center Institute, Quinetha began her professional career as a White House Intern under President William Clinton while studying at Tuskegee University where she discovered her love for public administration finance. While Q has helped to raise millions of grant and private dollars on behalf of her clients and partners, she has earned distinction in her field from her firm understanding of the relationship between the nonprofit and corporate sectors. She is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional and Affordable Housing Finance Professional and a mentor at HUBAtlanta.  READ MORE

Darrell has a broad range of experience in architecture, banking, economic development, finance, land development, urban planning and venture capital. His experience in banking, finance and venture capital was obtained during his tenure at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in the position of Venture Capital Relationship Manager. His work is now focused on using his varied experiences to provide strategic advice and guidance for investors in aligning their money and values with their investments in social enterprises. Most recently he has been raising debt and equity capital for entrepreneurs developing technology products to improve the built environment. He is also a mentor for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs at Hypepotamus, HUBAtlanta and The Global Social Venture Competition at Georgia Tech.  READ MORE



Powerful Boards, Powerful Fundraising
Cindy Cheatham, Vice President, Nonprofit Consulting Group | Georgia Center for Nonprofits
Kristin Connor, Executive Director | CURE Childhood Cancer

Nonprofits cannot underestimate the importance of strong boards in the New Normal environment. Pulling from the experience of the consulting practice’s field work, participants will tackle strategies for getting boards and staff to work together to position the organization for successful fundraising. This session will introduce exercises that boards can use to improve their fundraising methods and results, and includes a facilitated conversation among board and staff about the challenges of the ask. Every participant will leave with a better perspective on the challenges and potential of working together in this important area.

Ms. Cheatham is a recognized Atlanta community leader. She was a nominee for WIT’s Woman of the Year in Technology and was selected to participate in the 2010 class of Leadership Atlanta. As VP of Consulting Services for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, Ms. Cheatham leads strategic consulting services for the center, providing services directly to clients and also overseeing contracted consulting services provided directly to nonprofits through foundation technical assistance programs. Most recently, Ms. Cheatham was Venture Catalyst and Director of Business Development at the Advanced Technology Development Center (, a nationally recognized science and technology incubator affiliated with Georgia Tech where she provided strategic advice to business owners to help them succeed.  READ MORE

Kristin Connor joined CURE Childhood Cancer in March 2006 as Executive Director after a personal experience with childhood cancer changed and redirected her life. Kristin’s second son was diagnosed in Oct 2001 at a month old with an aggressive form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. Under Kristin’s leadership, CURE has experienced 275% growth in revenue, allowing the organization to grow its investment in childhood cancer research and patient and family services, refocused its mission, rebranded the organization, established a strong Scientific Advisory Board and strengthened board leadership. Kristin graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1991 with a B.A. in International Studies. She attended law school at University of Georgia and graduated with a J.D. in 1994.  READ MORE

Download Cindy & Kristin’s presentation + accompanying article


Servant Leadership: The Foundation of a High-Impact Nonprofit
Joseph J. Iarocci, CEO | Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership
Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices centered on nurturing and empowering all stakeholders: customers, clients, and participants, but also staff members, funders, and network partners. High-impact nonprofits are always “servant-leader” institutions; they do not focus solely on their own missions, but see the big picture and recognize that solving problems is a group effort. Join this important leadership discussion as we explore the principles of: thinking broadly about our stakeholders; listening deeply to understand the needs of those stakeholders; working thoughtfully to build a creative consensus; and multiplying organizational impact by sharing power.

Joseph J. Iarocci joined the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership as Chief Executive Officer in 2012. Before joining the Greenleaf Center, Joe spent 13 years with CARE USA, one of the world’s largest international nongovernmental organizations dedicated to ending extreme poverty. Joe joined CARE in 1998 as General Counsel, was appointed Chief Financial Officer in 2004 and Chief of Staff in 2008. During that time, Joe also spent a year managing CARE’s external relations team, which included fundraising, advocacy, marketing and communications. Joe currently serves on the boards of Social Accountability International, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and Citizen Effect. His past board service includes the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip, MicroVest microfinance fund, the Piedmont Hospital Ethics Committee and the Theatrical Outfit.  READ MORE

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Building Something Beautiful | Living Walls
In this special two-part BreakThrough Session, we’ll hear from two speakers whose visions are renewing shattered lives and transforming the way people relate to their neighborhoods.

Building Something Beautiful
Brian Preston, Founder | Lamon Luther
Do the stories we tell ourselves limit our ability to help? Like many during the great recession, Brian Preston lost his business, his savings, his home, and his comfortable illusions about poverty. A heightened sense of his own vulnerability led him to explore the homeless population of his suburban hometown, looking for people to rescue—but by listening to them instead, Brian figured out how to harness their untapped potential to rescue themselves. With Lamon Luther, a business that uses reclaimed materials to make beautiful furniture, Preston has given a staff of homeless men and women purpose and dignity as well as a path out of poverty—at the same time, illustrating the potential of an innovative, effective, and sustainable model for delivering help to those in need.

Brian Preston is the founder and chief storyteller of Lamon Luther, a custom furniture shop that employs homeless men to handcraft beautiful furniture from reclaimed materials. He dreams of restoring men by giving them hope and opportunity. The craftsmen of Lamon Luther not only make beautiful pieces, but also change their own lives. Preston began by employing men who were homeless and living behind a shopping center in West Georgia. In a few short months, they’ve gone from nothing to having jobs, homes and renewed relationships with their families.  READ MORE

Living Walls
Monica Campana, Executive Director | Living Walls
The places we inhabit, be they run-down and forgotten or vibrant and hopeful, exert a quiet but constant influence on our self-image. Monica Campana, a native of Peru, moved to Atlanta in 1998 as a child but continued to feel like a visitor in her overlooked part of town well into adulthood. That’s until she turned her artistic and organizational skills to the task of transforming abandoned buildings into canvasses for artists, “living walls” with the power to catalyze conversations, change the way people think about their neighborhoods, and inspire hope. Her nonprofit operates at the intersection between economic development, art, and human service. With examples of her work around Atlanta, Monica details the creation of a design movement that is redefining the power of public spaces while giving people a better place to call home.

Monica Campana Co-founder and Executive Director of Living Walls, seeks to promote, educate, and change perspectives toward public space in our communities via street art. The idea behind Living Walls is to bring together artists working in the public space ( like street artists and graffiti writers) with those who spend their time talking about public space ( like urbanists, urban farmers and professors) under the same roof. Living Walls recently picked up the award from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission for best organization of the year, and Creative Loafing put Campana on its list of the “20 People to Watch” in 2012. Living Walls champions folks from the male-dominated world of graffiti and street art, whose pedigrees in trespassing and anonymity are as well cultivated as their knowledge of color palettes.   READ MORE

Download Monica’s presentation