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April 20 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Spokes Symposium 2021 brings together experts in the field and regional nonprofit leaders to discuss taking stock, pivoting, and building collaborations to survive and thrive during times of great change. 

The virtual event will take place from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on three consecutive Thursdays, April 13, 20, and 27.

Topics in this three-part webinar series include:

• Taking stock of your financial health and viability
• Collaboration for long-term success
• Nuts and bolts of forming collaborations

Session 2

Partnering with Other Nonprofits– A Smart Business Decision for Space, Staffing, & Program Delivery 

During this part of the series, Spokes will invite an expert in the field to discuss the many types of partnerships and why they can benefit an organization’s operations. Participants will also hear directly from organizations that have undergone a substantial partnership or merger about the pros and cons of that decision.   

Keynote: Doug Green

Senior Manager, La Piana Consulting

Doug will be our keynote speaker for both Session 1 and Session 2. Doug works with nonprofit leaders to help them do their good work more effectively. His consulting is informed by diverse experiences with nonprofits and organizations in times of great change. In the 1980s S&L crisis, he supported the first modern interstate banking mergers with financial analysis. He also led an AIDS services organization during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and has been a consultant to nonprofits during the Great Recession and its uneven recovery. His past clients include Lotusland, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, the California Network of Family Strengthening Networks, Kids and Families Together, San Diego Natural History Museum, and Surfrider Foundation.


Each of our panelists leads an organization that has undergone a significant change in organizational structure, from partnerships to mergers. Learn about the benefits and challenges resulting from their decision.

Jennifer Adams is the Executive Director of Stand Strong in San Luis Obispo. She will share insights into merging two important social services organizations in our community. Jennifer has spent the past 25 years working in the gender-based violence field. In 2004, she became Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center and later led the North County Women’s Shelter. In 2013, she oversaw the merger of these two agencies, thus creating RISE. She has been recognized for her work by the California State Legislature, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and Cuesta College. She is a Cal Poly graduate and loves living on the Central Coast, where she enjoys time with her family and friends, hiking, wine tasting, and dancing.

Elida Ledesma serves as the Executive Director of the Arts for Healing and Justice Network, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the organization including strategic visioning and financial sustainability. Elida will share how she helped form a 13-member interdisciplinary collaboration to provide arts programming for youth in the juvenile justice system. Prior to working with the Arts for Healing and Justice Network, she worked as a research assistant for the UCLA Department of Medicine on the RISE project, which examined adolescent risky behavior. Her peer-reviewed article, “Health Implications of Housing Assignments for Incarcerated Transgender Women” was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Samuel Duarte is the Director of Little House on the Park, a nonprofit under the Family Service Agency where he advocates for families and individuals of all ages and diversities. With over 25 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, Samuel collaborates with local institutions to develop educational, community engagement, and leadership opportunities for underrepresented community members to be at the forefront of decision making processes. Samuel will share the mechanics and benefits of his organization’s recent merger with the Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Maria Youth and Valley Center.

Why should I attend?

  • Different challenges
    The COVID crisis has affected our area nonprofits differently. Many are struggling to maintain basic services. Some, such as performing arts venues, cannot operate at all. For nonprofits in these circumstances, the challenge is to stay solvent. For some fortunate others, the financial resources are there, but the challenge is finding the “bandwidth” to ramp up and add programs in response to new demands posed by the crisis.
  • Taking Stock
    Regardless of the challenges your organization faces, the Symposium offers help and guidance. No matter your financial situation, setting aside time to take a hard, informed look at your business plan is crucial to your long-term viability. Session 1 will prepare you to do that.
  • Is it smart to go it alone?
    In times of crisis, perhaps not. There are various ways organizations can support and complement one another. It may be something as simple as sharing space or staff. It could be the services offered by your highly specialized nonprofit would be more sustainable as a program under the umbrella of a larger organization. On the flip side, if your organization is experiencing growing pains, there may be a nonprofit out there already offering a program much like what you want to offer yourself. What kind of partnership might work to everyone’s advantage? Find out in Session 2.
  • Nuts and Bolts
    Intrigued by ideas from Session 2 but you don’t know where to begin? Whether it’s sharing resources, forming alliances, acquiring programs, merging, or simply winding down your nonprofit, Session 3 will provide expert and experienced guidance.

Session 1

April 13, 2021 12 – 1:30 PM

Taking Stock of Your Financial Health and Viability

This first part of this series will address the simple steps every organization should do to evaluate their financial situation and plan in the face of an extended economic downturn and disruption of normal operations. 

Session 3

April 27, 2021 12 – 1:30 PM

Nuts and Bolts of Forming Collaborations

This part will cover the important “how to” information to consider. Participants will hear from an attorney, CPA, HR professional, and insurance representative on the factors to consider when preparing to partner with another entity or merge two organizations.   

Save the dates now and sign up for our Spokes newsletter to get updates on Symposium speakers, the registration process, and other details. Bookmark this page as it will also be updated regularly.


April 20
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category: