Making Memories: A welcome from our PEAK2020 co-chairs

Whether this is your first conference or your 15th, we’re excited to welcome you to PEAK2020: from all the memories you’ll make to the “a-ha” moments that will inform and improve your grantmaking practices, this conference is sure to be a blast. Get ready to be inspired by three outstanding keynotes, connect with old and new friends, and enjoy everything the amazing city of Seattle has to offer.

We’re honored to have a trio of incredible co-chairs for PEAK2020: Candy Champion of Turner Foundation, Sue Fulton of the Endowment for Health, and Shonda Barnett of Texas Women’s Foundation.

To kick off their tenure, we asked Candy, Sue, and Shonda to share their top conference memories, and what they’re most looking forward to at PEAK2020.

How many annual conferences have you attended?

Candy: This will be my 13th PEAK Grantmaking conference.
Sue: This will be my 15th conference—only missed one!
Shonda: This will be my 9th.

What is your favorite part of the conference experience?

Candy: The genuineness that we all have when sharing valuable practices with our grantmaking colleagues.
Sue: How open and willing to help everyone is.
Shonda: The consistency: Before arriving, I already know it’s going to be great. I would register to attend without even knowing any details, because I know that it will have a ton of great, educational sessions, and that I will leave with at least one tool or resource I can use when I get back to the office. I know I will get to connect with friends. Time at a PEAK Annual Conference is always time well spent.

What are you most excited about for PEAK2020?

Candy: What I will learn, and catching up with all my conference friends. I have developed astounding relationships over the past 14 years, and always look forward to attending sessions, roundtable discussions, chapter meetings, meals and coffee breaks, and post-conference activities with new and old colleagues.
Sue: I am so pleased there will be a small foundation track this year. Because many of us face similar challenges and opportunities, it will be great to meet other folks who work in small organizations, and learn how they manage their grantmaking.
Shonda: I am excited about being in Seattle, but more than anything I am looking forward to reconnecting with my friends. Over the years, I have bonded with a phenomenal group of grants management professionals, and this is my one opportunity each year to be with them in person—including one of my best friends on Earth. We coordinate our sessions, have lunch or dinner, and carve out time to catch up with one another. I am excited just thinking about it!

Speak to those who have never been to our annual conference before. Why should they make this one their first?

Candy: You are guaranteed to walk away with new and valuable practices that will make your day-to-day grantmaking life easier and more efficient.
Sue: There is no other conference that can provide this level of learning opportunities for grantmaking best practices. You’ll learn, connect, and have fun along the way.
Shonda: For grants management professionals, this is a must. You will learn tips and tricks, of course, but you will also connect with others in the field: those who have been in your shoes, understand you, and are willing to help not just during the conference but once you are back on the job. The network of PEAK Grantmaking is like no other, and by far the most valuable thing you will gain by attending.

What’s your best conference memory?

Candy: One of my many unforgettable experiences was the dine-around night at the 2017 conference in Hollywood. At a swanky hotel right out of the 1960s, my Southeast Region members and I shared an amazing four hours drinking, eating, laughing, taking pictures, and creating friendships.
Sue: I have such fond memories of the first conference in New York City. I remember the feeling of walking into a room and meeting about 150 people who understood my job and the challenges I faced. I was overwhelmed to meet my ”peeps.” Fifteen years later, I am still connected with the folks who attended that conference. The conference has evolved a lot in the last 15 years: The first conference was volunteer-led and not as organized as it is today, but considering the resources available, it was amazing.
Shonda: My best conference memory would have to be my first, at the River Walk in San Antonio, when I was brand new to my foundation and to the work. I was so nervous, but I recall attending the regional chapter meeting for Texas and being welcomed with open arms by two colleagues who have become some of my closest friends and champions. That first year, I called on both of them numerous times with questions, concerns, and, sometimes, just some frustrations to vent. Every time I reached out, they answered. I would not have been equipped to meet the challenges of my new position without that conference and the wonderful people attending it.

Sum it up in three words!

Candy: Exhilarating, electrifying, efficacious.
Sue: Connections, learning, fun.
Shonda: Fulfilling, educational, FUN!