At the beginning of May, I traveled to the Office Depot Foundation Conference in Boca Raton for their  annual Civil Society Leadership Symposium.   The weekend was one of the most inspiring weekends I have had in a long time. Just the idea of being in the same room with people who are making a difference all over the country was incredible, but then add the speakers, the awards ceremony, all of the networking, and delicious snacks in between the sessions and it was beyond what I could have imagined!

Just to give you some background: We received our first grant from the Office Depot Foundation at the end of last year. When we were invited to attend the conference, this is how it was described from the Office Depot Foundation:

Inspiring Innovation and Collaboration:
Weekend in Boca VII, May 2-3

The annual Office Depot Foundation Weekend in Boca, Civil Society Leadership Symposium gives non-profit professionals, board members and volunteers an all-too-rare opportunity to get out of the office and spend time learning about best practices and timely strategies for innovation, collaboration and sustainability…

What an opportunity for e-collaborate! On the first day of the conference, there were over 500 people in the room. The sessions allowed us to interact with the participants and solve real world problems from different perspectives; helped us understand the tools that are available to non-profits and donors to connect with each other; they shared good stories that have reached millions of people and made us think about our own stories and how we share our message; and lastly the sessions generally inspired us to say, if we are solving a problem, then in 10 years, we should be out of a job, because we should be empowering communities to be part of the solutions we are trying to “solve”.

Besides the speakers, one of my favorite parts of the conference was networking and meeting like-minded people who have the best intentions for their own communities. The thing I learned about the non-profit community, is that people are generally trying to help each other. I am excited to follow up with the connections we made and continue to support the Office Depot Foundation. Thank you, Mary Wong and team! I am already looking forward to the conference next year!


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