President's Perspective Blog

Catching Our Collective Breath

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room of people at AFP LEAD 2022

Much of AFP is catching our collective breath this morning.

No, it has nothing to do with deciding between Team Alicent and Team Rhaenyra—although I’m sure that’s a great conversation starter, as well as a small window into your leadership style.

Hmm… that was an unintentional segue, but speaking of leadership style, more than 500 AFPers just spent several days together this past Thursday through Saturday at AFP LEAD 2022 in Houston—consistently ranked the most diverse city in the US—focusing on improving our respective leadership skills. In case you’re new to AFP, AFP LEAD is THE premier, gold-standard leadership focused educational event for fundraisers in our sector.

The buzz and energy was off the charts. Everyone was so excited to learn from the best faculty around, to come back together again with current friends, and to make new connections.

Meetings started early in the morning, went all day, and continued well into the evening. The conversations were deep and, at times, uncomfortable—but only through discomfort do we see real growth. Our keynote speakers were inspiring, funny, and shared incredible messages with our attendees.

Our opening speaker, Shanterra McBride, gave comments that reached deep into our souls and made us sit in her wisdom:

  • “Being an ally is not just dropping off the casserole, expressing sympathy and leaving—it’s actually coming into the house and sitting in the grief”
  • “Validate, but don’t relate”
  • “Principles are only as good as you are willing to live them”

Shanterra and co-author Rosalind Wiseman’s book, “Courageous Discomfort: How to Have Important, Brave, Life-Changing Conversations about Race and Racism” is a must-read.

Our second keynote featured Maureen and Kelly Hackett of the Hackett Family Foundation, who gave us personal insights into the transition of family wealth and management of a family foundation from one generation to the next. Incredibly fascinating and a unique opportunity to peek inside the tent of family and philanthropy. I’m pretty sure everyone left that session with the mission of researching generational giving differences and trends by age demographic. We all know the general generational differences between Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and so on, but to hear this discussion between a Baby Boomer and a Millennial who together run their family foundation was incredible—a chance to sit at their kitchen table and eavesdrop.

Our closing speaker, Dr. Bennie (sans his Jets) Lambert, inspired all of us with his story of less than stellar accomplishments in his early years only to succeed thanks to his determination (and Big Mama—you had to be there). His wisdom is worth sharing with everyone regardless of age or circumstance. A few of his key points leading to success were:

  • “Show Up—consistently with a positive attitude”
  • “Show Up—on time”
  • “Show Up—prepared (“homework” done)”

I dare say everyone left with their emotional and educational buckets overflowing and looking for a second—or even a third—bucket so as to not lose a single nugget.

One of the aspects of AFP LEAD that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with AFP members who have suggestions, want updates, have a bone to pick, or just want to catch up—sometimes it’s all four. If you ever want to chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and let’s make it happen.

As you can see from a wholly limited write-up about AFP LEAD, it was an amazing few days and we, at AFP, are honored and humbled that over 500 attendees joined us in Houston for the largest AFP LEAD ever.

Next October this premier leadership event will be in Philadelphia, and we look forward to seeing you there. By the way, I note that both Houston (this year’s AFP LEAD location) and Philadelphia (next year’s AFP LEAD location) are in the baseball World Series… coincidence? Maybe/maybe not… just saying.

Have a great week, everyone, and please don’t hesitate to email me at or on Twitter at @AFPMikeGeiger.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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