Featured Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim, CEO, Future Foundation

Qaadirah_Abdur_Rahim_headshot.jpegThe CEO of the Future Foundation, a non-profit, which empowers Atlanta’s youth, Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim is a status-quo disruptor. The Atlanta native attended the University of California, Berkeley and realized local schools had not prepared her for college. She earned her degree in social work, then a master’s from the University of California San Francisco, before returning to Atlanta to help kids like her. Transforming a small afterschool program into a phenomenon spanning nonprofit, business, and government sectors, Qaadirah quadrupled the Foundation’s revenue while earning an MBA at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. The results speak for themselves: Future Foundation participants have a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a 60% average across community high schools. 

Alicia Phillipp, President, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

2016PhilippAlicia1.jpgAlicia Philipp has led the Foundation’s grantmaking, fundraising and collaboration with donors, nonprofits and community leaders for almost 40 years. Under her leadership, the Community Foundation has grown from $7 million in 1977 to more than $919.8 million today. Philipp’s local, regional and national leadership responsibilities include previous service as a board member of the Council on Foundations, the Southeastern Council on Foundations, Independent Sector and the National Center on Family Philanthropy. Honors received include being named to Georgia Trend’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” list, one of the “100 Most Influential Atlantans” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the ninth most powerful Atlantan by Atlanta magazine and one of 175 “Emory History Makers” by Emory University. Philipp received a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and her MBA from Georgia State University. She lives in Decatur and has two adult children, both of whom live in Europe.

Deep Dive Speakers

Elyse Klova, Chief Operating Officer, Blaze: Leadership for Trailblazers
Session: Managing Upward: Initiating Difficult Conversations with Leadership Deep Dive


Elyse is an independent strategist who works with innovative organizations on internal systems and long-term planning. She most recently served as Management and Strategy Director and founding team member of Atlanta's Center for Civic Innovation. Elyse knows what it takes to start an organization, and brings deep experience in organizational development and fundraising to her work with her clients. Elyse got her start in the nonprofit sector at Foundation Center's Atlanta-based office. She advised nonprofits, taught classes, and managed product and project development for Foundation Directory Online (Foundation Center's fundraising research tool for nonprofits). Her volunteer service includes co-chairing Atlanta's +Acumen chapter, serving as a panelist for Fulton County Arts Council's grants and contracts program, and helping to found YNPN's Atlanta chapter, where she served for a year as a board member and Marketing Committee Chair. She earned her B.A. in Economics and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and is currently enrolled in The Flatiron School's Online Web Development Program.


Catherine Perry, Founder, InwardBound Center for Nonprofit Leadership
Session: Managing Upward: Initiating Difficult Conversations with Leadership Deep Dive


In 2010 Catherine founded the InwardBound Center for Nonprofit Leadership.  The vision: that nonprofits, especially those focused on eliminating poverty, rank on the Best Places to Work lists, known for outstanding leadership and success in growing leaders from within.  The Center’s coaches conduct outstanding leadership training and coaching programs. Save the Date: their 4th Leadership Summit is Sept 13 in Atlanta.Prior to coaching, Catherine spent 20 years in the corporate sector as director of marketing at American Express, and vice president of marketing at Bell Bicycle Helmets.



Val Porter Cook President & CEO, Blaze: Leadership for Trailblazers
Session: Wiser Than a Tree Full of Owls: Leadership and the Power of Being Deep Dive

Val_Porter_Head_Shot.jpgVal Porter Cook is a social entrepreneur, leadership coach, writer and change agent. Her company, Blaze: Leadership for Trailblazers, provides transformational leadership development for people who serve other people. She specifically focuses on preparing leaders who are bringing about dramatic change in their community and in their world – preparing them for long game careers and helping them cultivate the self-awareness needed to lead and inspire.

For more than twenty years, Val has dedicated her career to strengthening people and organizations that do good in the world. Most recently, she led the Domestic Strategy and Innovation Division for Foundation Center, beginning her tenure at the organization as director of its Atlanta office and taking on an additional assignment as Interim Director of Education.  Her career started at Woodruff Arts Center and includes an appointment as Deputy Director of Fulton County Arts Council, one of the largest local arts agencies at that time.  

Currently, Val is on the Board of Directors of the National Council of Nonprofits and Center for Civic Innovation and has served on the board of Art Papers Magazine, a leading publication on art criticism.  She has also served on advisory boards and committees for Spelman Museum, TechBridge, Independent Sector, Americans for the Arts, and Prevent Child Abuse Georgia.

Val earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Georgia Tech, a Master of Science degree in marketing from Georgia State University and a post-graduate certificate from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School. She is a 2003 fellow of Coca Cola’s Diversity Leadership Academy and a 2014 recipient of the Leadership Character Award from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and the Turknett Leadership Group.  

Val lives in Smyrna, Georgia with her husband, Columbus, and her two daughters Kennedy and Summer.