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VOL. 125 | NO. 81 | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

White House Official to Visit Local Orgs

By Tom Wilemon

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The White House official who finds new ways to address the nation’s social issues will be in Memphis next month to visit two charities and speak at a conference for nonprofit organizations.

Sonal Shah, director of the newly created White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, is coming at the invitation of the Alliance for Nonprofit Alliance. She is scheduled to give the keynote address at the Alliance’s annual conference.

The theme for this year’s event, set for May 5, is “The New Nonprofit Sector: Redefined, Retooled and Resilient.”

Memphis is one of two Southern cities on Shah’s “Community Solutions” tour, said Nancy McGee, executive director of the Alliance.

While in Memphis, Shah will visit Porter-Leath and Youth Villages.

“Her office asked us to select a local organization that we thought was socially innovative for her to visit,” McGee said. “We opened it up to our members who had been registered for the conference to nominate themselves for the site visit. We received 12 self-nominations.”

A panel of nonprofit experts from outside Memphis selected Porter-Leath.

Youth Villages is on Shah’s itinerary for a different reason.

The White House last year identified Youth Villages as being among “effective, innovative nonprofits” that are “high-impact, result-oriented” organizations.

Before President Obama appointed Shah to the White House post, she led Google.org’s global development efforts. Before that she was a vice president at Goldman Sachs Inc., where she led the firm’s environmental strategy.

Her experience in the nonprofit realm includes being the co-founder of Indicorps and a stint at the Center for American Progress in Washington. Indicorps offers fellowships for Indian-Americans to work on development projects in India. She was a federal government employee from 1995 to 20002 with service at the U.S. Treasury Department and the National Security Council.

Shah is the headliner for the coming conference, but she is not the only speaker.

Other speakers at the conference will include William A. Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal; Martha Perine Beard, senior branch executive of the Memphis zone of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; and Emily Gantz McKay, founder and president of Mosaica.

Writers at the conference will include Rick Cohen, national correspondent for The Nonprofit Quarterly; Ruth McCambridge, editor-in-chief of The Nonprofit Quarterly; and Ron Mattocks, author of The Zone of Insolvency.

Other speakers include Jenifer Leigh, director of communications for The Poverty Institute at the Rhode Island College School of Social Work; Tal Frankfurt, founder of Cloud for Good; David Renz, director of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership; and Susan Adler Thorp, president of Susan Adler Thorp Communications.

The fee is $100 per person for Alliance members and $150 for nonmembers. The conference is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clark Opera Memphis Center, 6745 Wolf River Blvd.

For more information about the conference or to register for the event, visit


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