The Crescent City was the perfect backdrop for hosting 200 passionate, nonprofit professionals for three days of speakers, workshops, networking, and parties. The goal of Tech Forward is twofold: to inspire nonprofits to learn how to leverage mission focused technology, and to connect them to peers who are facing similar challenges. At the end of the conference, we’re proud to say both goals were accomplished. Here’s a wrap up on the 2019 Tech Forward Conference.
Executive Directors, Chief Technology Officers, and Senior Program Managers from across the nonprofit sector delivered in-depth presentations on a range of topics including data, security, productivity, and innovation.
Art delaCruz, President & COO of Team Rubicon, kicked off the conference with a keynote address on the important role buy-in, cultural adoption, and partners played in Team Rubicon’s digital transformation. Marnie Webb from TechSoup followed Art’s address with a compelling discussion encouraging nonprofits to focus on their Common Data Model and urging funders to spend money to support the development and maintenance of a Common Data Model across a cohort of organizations.
After a strong kick-off, the presentations kept rolling. Jessica Kelly, Director of Research Programming from the Urban Institute, delivered a thoughtful presentation on how big data and artificial intelligence aid public policy research. Marcus Iannozzi, Founder and Principal of Message Agency, helped attendees learn how to create user personas to transform website communications and services. Perry Broderick, Communications and Systems Director at Ocean Outcomes, provided guidance on how nonprofits can secure a virtual workforce. These are just a few examples of presentations that included case studies and real-life examples of the challenges and successes experienced while implementing technology solutions.
“Keep using speakers who are truly knowledgeable about their topics and know how to speak.”
“With no vendor presentations, everyone was passionate about their subject - amazing difference from other conferences.”
Tech Forward is designed with relationship building in mind. It’s an intimate conference with 200 attendees and two networking parties. Guests walked away with new connections and relationships with fellow nonprofit leaders.
“This was the best opportunity I've had to meet true peers that work in non-profits in similar roles to me, and it was very rewarding to be in a position to network and hear what other agencies do.”
“It was wonderfully intimate and hope it stays that way for future conferences.”
We finished out the conference with our Tech Lab Workshops. These are intensive learning sessions that incorporate demonstrations, workbook examples, and group activities. We offered three different topics: dashboarding, design thinking, and nonprofit privacy. Here, participants took the first steps in implementing processes they learned about during the conference.
“The workshop at the end was absolutely amazing. The fact that I had 3 other people working on a problem of mine gave me a tremendous amount of insight and showed me things I had no idea where possible”
“Design thinking workshop was exactly where I needed to be for this one. It was the most important talk I attended.”
Partying in NOLA
Purposefully choosing a venue in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter allowed us to explore our temporary home in all its glory. Starting with a Sunday reception in the Sonesta’s outdoor courtyard, attendees enjoyed drinks and food inspired by local cuisine like red beans and rice, sausage jambalaya, fried okra, and shrimp and alligator burgers.
Monday night’s party started out with a bang -- or at least a six-piece brass band that led a Second Line Parade through the French Quarter. The parade ended at BBKing’s Blues House for our annual downtown party, where we enjoyed perfect weather on our private balcony, listened to a live band, connected with fellow nonprofit pros, and filled back-to-school backpacks for local elementary students with the help of NetWork Volunteers.
“Great conference, well thought-out and the food was amazing. As was the PARTY!! Thank you”
“The Second Line was SO cool!”