Greg Nielsen Small

Dear Colleagues:

We welcome you to CNPE’s 16th Annual Nonprofit Leadership Conference and Pyramid Awards of Excellence Luncheon.  Owning Your Everyday Awesomeness is the theme of our gathering.  

CNPE is proud to present Vu Le as our keynote speaker. Vu is a writer, speaker, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a Seattle nonprofit with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits. Vu’s passion to make the world better drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves.  There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and Vu’s calling is to document it.

With the growing number of challenges our world faces, nonprofits are needed now more than ever before.  And yet, we face countless internal obstacles.  It’s easy to focus on what we are missing in the nonprofit sector.  We think that if only we had more funding, more awareness, more volunteers, then we could be awesome. But the game is changing and we must evolve, evaluate, and engage. Vu’s message, and that of our 2016 conference, is focused on the simple truth that we are already awesome.  It is only through harnessing the influence and talent that we do possess that we can rise to meet the challenges of our time.

Join us on Wednesday, October 26, for a full-day conference that will leave you both exhilarated and empowered.  The conference will feature a morning keynote delivered by Vu Le, followed by breakout sessions featuring national and local presenters dynamically exploring how we can elevate our sector by addressing the real challenges we face. The luncheon will include Vu’s moving personal story and will salute excellence by recognizing the Pyramid Award winners and the Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.  Finally, a group afternoon session featuring Louisville icon Harry Pickens will draw the day to a close on an inspirational high note emphasizing unity and community.   

We extend a warm note of thanks to the many sponsors who help bring to life this day of exciting new possibilities.  We look forward to welcoming you also, and sharing a memorable day of learning, encouragement, and celebration.

Gregory Nielsen  Chief Executive Officer, Center for Nonprofit Excellence 


Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and foster collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change.

Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves.  There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it.  He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at  The title of his blog refers to all the balls that we nonprofit professionals have to juggle: clients, board, staff, volunteers, funders, auditors, payrolls, budgets, cashflows, trainings, annual events, etc.  We are all knee-deep in balls.  We have balls coming at us from every direction.  Sometimes we “drop the ball,” but no worries, since there is never a shortage of balls in this line of work.  He is also the humor columnist for the awesome nonprofit online magazine, Blue Avocado.


  • 7:00 - 7:30 a.m.  Exhibitor Registration Check-In

  • 7:30 - 8:15 a.m.  Full Conference Registration Check-In - Continental Breakfast in the Mission Data Exhibitor Lounge

  • 8:15 - 9:15 a.m.  Morning Keynote with Vu Le

  • 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. and 10:45 - 11:45 a.m.  Breakout Sessions

    Four concurrent sessions featuring national and local talent will be offered in the morning and repeated back-to-back.

    • Fundraising Moneyball: The Only Metrics That Matter in Digital Fundraising
      Jeff Stanger, Chief Executive Geek at Cause Geek

      Have you ever had to explain to your boss and/or board how your “Likes” and “Engagement” are impacting donations?  Ever had to justify your social media activity and explain how your “reach” will someday translate to gifts?  Enough already with the tech speak and nebulous numbers.  In one hour, we will learn how three goals for your digital strategy can increase donations, increase volunteers, and give you actual bottom line numbers that are measurable and easy to communicate to your board and boss.
    • Creating a Recognition Culture
      Dave Neumann, Consultant at Center for Nonprofit Excellence

      Recognition is every leader's key for communicating expectations, driving high standards, reinforcing performance and creating engagement.  While the positive impact of recognition is widely accepted, it is rarely used in practice.  And where it is used, is often done so inappropriately.  This breakout session will explore the following topics, using practical examples from organizations that are successfully building and leveraging a recognition culture to drive their mission:

      - Why Recognition?  The indisputable business impact and what the latest research shows.
      - What is Recognition?  It's many forms, the mindset, the investment, and the importance of connection to the overall culture.
      - How do you do Recognition?  How to get started, how to keep it going, and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

      Participants will complete a brief "Recognition Audit" for their organization as a starting point.  They will be provided with examples and resources to get started or to take their current recognition programs to a new level of impact.
    • TED-Style Talks: What We Don’t Talk About, But Should

      Fans of this fast-paced and attention-grabbing style of presentation will enjoy thoughtfully provocative TED-Style Talks featuring community leaders and followed by group discussion.
    • Everyday Awesomeness in Organizational Equity
        Vu Le, Executive Director at Rainier Valley Corps and author of

      Nonprofits and funders have been talking a lot about Equity. But what does that actually mean in context of practice?  Is simply talking about Equity enough?  In this interactive session, Vu will lead a conversation on concrete actions we can all take to ensure there is equity in five key areas: Board development, hiring practices, community engagement, partnerships with other organizations, and the collection and usage of data.  We can all be even more awesome if we ensure there is Equity in these areas
  • 11:45 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.  Networking in the Mission Data Exhibitor Lounge

  • 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.  Pyramid Awards of Excellence Luncheon

    If you want an inspired and powerful sense of community, the awards luncheon is for you.  It is the largest gathering of nonprofit professionals, philanthropists, and corporate citizens in the state.  The luncheon's focus is to recognize and celebrate the essential value of our region's nonprofit sector. CNPE specifically recognizes commanding contributions made by nonprofit organizations in six areas:

    Art of Collaboration, sponsored by Deming Malone Livesay & Ostroff (DMLO)
    Art of Governance, sponsored by Philadelphia Insurance Companies
    Art of Inclusion, sponsored by PNC Bank
    Art of Leadership, sponsored by Kosair Charities
    Art of Social Innovation, sponsored by Dick & Ardi Wilson
    Art of Vision, sponsored by Dean Dorton

    Gordon Brown, former President & CEO of Home of the Innocents, and Joe Tolan, President & CEO of Metro United Way, will be honored with CNPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award for their transforming community contributions also during the luncheon.
  • 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.  Afternoon Session with Harry Pickens - Fueling Our Awesomeness ... For the Long Haul!

    Service to community requires stamina, strength, and the spirit to persevere in the midst of the daily challenges. How can we find a 'fuel source' that can keep us inspired -- and inspiring -- to those who we serve? How can we keep our hearts open and our souls radiant and renewed? Prepare yourself to think, to feel, to remember, and to be challenged and inspired.

    During this uplifting afternoon session with award-winning performing artist and community leader Harry Pickens, conference participants will reconnect with their core values - their own personal and individual #OYEA moment that ignited their passion to serve in the nonprofit sector. Using this, participants will tap into their source of sustainable inspiration, creativity, energy and empowerment to fuel their awesomeness -- for the long haul!

  • Click here for the 2016 Annual Conference Brochure.


Harry Pickens

Harry Pickens, B.A, CAPP, is an award-winning performing artist, educator, positive psychology practitioner, organizational change consultant and life transformation coach.  As pianist and composer, his multifaceted musical career has featured collaborations with hundreds of the world’s great jazz artists. His ‘keynote concerts’, seminars and workshops uniquely blend the power and magic of music with incisive insights into human and organizational behavior that help his students, clients and workshop participants thrive.

Harry has worked with hundreds of jazz artists, choral works featuring the poetry of Wendell Berry, and a recent performance for the Dalai Lama.  The 2009 recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award for the Arts in Education, the state's highest honor in the creative and performing arts, he also serves as Artist-In-Residence for the Kentucky Governor’s School For The Arts and reentry served as Ambassador For Artistry In Education at Berklee School of Music.  Harry helped to catalyze our community’s interest in and engagement with Social Entrepreneurship by bringing author David Bornstein to Louisville a decade ago.  As a positive psychology practitioner, organizational change consultant, and life transformation coach, he continues to develop and share practical applications of cutting-edge research in the science of well being.

Benefits of Attending for You, Your Organization and the Community:

  • Empower yourself and others to choose excellence
  • Inspire your staff, board and volunteers to engage in the pursuit of excellence
  • Engage donors, patrons and clients
  • Influence policy decisions
  • Connect and network with other leaders

Who will be coming?

  • Executive Directors and CEOs
  • Fund Development Professionals
  • Human Resource Professionals
  • Marketing & PR Professionals
  • Program Managers
  • Young Professionals
  • Board Members & Volunteers
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business Leaders
  • Philanthropists

Follow the Links Below to Plan your Participation

Bookmark and Share