First-Ever Leading Through Change Conference Provides Important Training for Nonprofit Executives


For several years, TNOYS has heard from our members and others that there simply are not enough opportunities for high-level leadership training and professional development in the nonprofit sector. In an effort to meet that need, TNOYS partnered with the RGK Center and St. David’s Church to host the first-ever Leading Through Change conference last week in Austin.

TNOYS was excited to see the strong interest in the conference — nearly 100 nonprofit executives from social service organizations across Texas attended — and to hear all the positive feedback from attendees at the event. It indicates that there is in fact a need for this type of training and development opportunity within our field and we hope to offer the event again next year.     

The conference kicked off on August 23 with an opening networking reception at Austin’s Hotel Ella, followed by a full day of keynote presentations and interactive workshops on August 24 led by a variety of leadership and management experts in the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. Programming was focused on giving the leaders in attendance the space to think strategically about how to approach their roles given the many challenges facing the nonprofit sector today, including significant changes in funding sources, an uncertain economic and political landscape, and changes in how organizational goals and measures of success are evaluated.

The opening keynote was delivered by Hank Whitman, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), who shared insights on leading and connecting with staff, drawing on his experience helping to turn around the operations of his agency. Luncheon and closing keynotes, delivered by Alistair Deakin, CEO of KaleidaCare, and John Adcock, SVP of People at RetailMeNot, also focused on how to lead change within an organization. The three speakers each shared helpful tips and insights, such as ensuring staff input is being incorporated when making decisions about change, creating opportunities for short-term wins to help staff see that the change being implemented is achievable, and paying attention to culture and a shared work ethic among employees to ensure results.

In addition to the keynote presentations, attendees had the chance to attend three interactive workshop sessions throughout the day. Sessions were divided into three tracks, with attendees getting to choose the topic that most applicable to their work: Leadership Development, Organizational Development, and Operational Management. In these sessions, attendees were offered detailed guidance on topics important to their daily work. The sessions covered everything from legal guidance on how to prevent and address employee misconduct by employment law attorney Mike Golden to tactics and strategies for leading a mid-size agency from nonprofit CEO Kimberly Williams. To see the full lineup of speakers and workshop topics, see our conference program. To access the presentations and handouts shared by the speakers, visit our conference website.

We are grateful to everyone who helped make this event a success, particularly the excellent speakers who gave their time and the event sponsors whose contributions provided critical funding. We hope that the valuable information that was shared helps all who were in attendance grow their organizations and their own career development over the coming year, and we look forward to offering more of this important programming in the future!

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