What’s Ahead for the Communications Network?


Guest Post: Rebecca Arno, Vice President of Communications, The Denver Foundation and Chair, Communications Network

(Rebecca Arno started her two-year term as the Network’s chair at the Fall 2011 Conference.)

With annual memberships at 400-plus, an active listserv, dynamic on-line content, and nearly 300 attendees at our Boston conference, the Communications Network is stronger than ever.

This shouldn’t be surprising, since the practice of communications has never been more integral to the work of our organizations. In Boston, we heard how social media helped launch an uprising, how online content influences the way we view the world, and how a film transformed the ability of a young woman and her immigrant parents to see the future. And this was just on day one. On day two, we heard how storytelling can change the narrative of a country.

As I listened to our conference speakers, I couldn’t help but transfer their lessons back to my own organization. If social media can fuel an uprising, can it help boost resident involvement in revitalizing a Denver neighborhood? If a film can change a family’s future, can video help our grantees teach young children to read? I’m sure everyone in the audience had similar thoughts. We are each, in our own ways, out to change to the world.

Given the power of this work we do, we are so fortunate to have the Communications Network working every day to help us become better communicators.

A few years ago when I joined the board, we were about a year past near-disaster. The Network created by our predecessors in the 1980s had almost ceased to be. Our turnaround began in mid-2006, when Bruce Trachtenberg was hired as our new executive director. Since then, and thanks to the awesome direction of board chairs Grant Oliphant, Bud Meyer, and most recently, Eric Brown, the Network has been energetically and boldly building the organization. We are here today because of great staff and board teamwork and the myriad contributions that you – our members and supporters – have made over the years. As I step into my role as the Network’s chair for the next two years, I know I’ll be counting on that same level of energy and enthusiasm.

In fact, we need your help more than ever. Now that we’ve strengthened the Network to provide outstanding programmatic content, a listserv that connects us all year, and not-to-be-missed annual conferences, what’s next? The Network board is working on a strategic plan…one that looks ahead to design the future of our work together. With our consultants from Community Wealth Ventures, we’ve begun to do research on what our members want, and you’ll see more questions about this in the months to come.

So…are you with us? Please let me, or any of the other board member, hear your thoughts, your concerns, and your visions for the Network. Together, we can build toward the future—hopefully one as bright as that described by Jelly Helm, where we’re all operating in the economy of love—but even if we face huge challenges, the Network can and should stand ready to make us all successful.

I share some more of my thoughts about the Network and its future in the video that accompanies this post. I look forward to comments from you about what I say there and here. Please let me know what you think.


  1. Stefan LanferStefan Lanfer10-07-2011

    Besides great conferences and helpful online content, I wonder if the network could craft training op’s and mentorships for new members who have landed communications roles based on some of the right aptitudes plus being in right places at right times but without the formal training or experience in journalism, PR, marketing, etc. Thanks.

  2. Minna JungMinna Jung10-11-2011

    Stefan: high marks for being prescient. Packard gave the Comunications Network a grant this year; part of it was to support the conference, but the other part was to sponsor webinars or some other sort of training opportunity for communications folks new to philanthropy. So stay tuned on that–we’re still catching our breath after the conference, but we’ll start planning for those soon.

  3. Jan SchaeferJan Schaefer10-13-2011

    Along those lines, would it make sense to have a “best practices” section on the website that could be easily accessed by category? I picked up some great ideas from people I met at the Conference, but it’s a fraction of the knowledge and experience that the membership has collectively.

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