AFP News

Soledad O’Brien, Spencer West to Be Keynote Speakers At Largest Conference on Fundraising in the World in San Antonio

Award-winning journalist, producer and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien, along with activist, author and motivational speaker Spencer West, will be the keynote speakers at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) ICON 2019, the largest gathering of charitable fundraisers in the world, in San Antonio, March 31 – April 2, 2019.

More than 3,500 fundraisers, representing charitable missions and causes from across the globe will converge on San Antonio to discuss critical issues in the profession, including the impact of last year’s tax law on giving, the growing important of major gifts, demographic changes in donors, and new ways of fundraising using technology. AFP ICON 2019 will also feature nearly 100 educational sessions, including presentations by O’Brien and West.

West will open AFP ICON 2019 with his incredible story of resilience, belief and inspiration. After losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five, he entered a world that might have easily defeated him. Instead, he tackled challenge after challenge, learning to navigate in a world set against those with disabilities. His many accomplishments and lessons learned along the way, led him to discover the techniques business leaders, professionals, educators and young people can use to redefine possible in their own lives and careers.

The closing keynote speaker will be O’Brien, who has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting by telling the stories behind the most important issues, people and events of the day. A champion of diversity, she gives voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, “Black in America” and “Latino in America.” A prominent philanthropist, she is the founder of PowHERful, a foundation that mentors and funds college tuition and expenses for young women.

“Fundraisers raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year for extraordinary causes from donors around the world, so it’s critical they understand the latest trends, issues and innovations in fundraising, and that’s what AFP ICON 2019 provides,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “But to be successful in today’s environment, you have to know more than just fundraising. You need to have skills related to leadership, diversity and inclusion, management, cultures of philanthropy and so much more. AFP ICON 2019 offers those kinds of skills—to create fundraisers who can successfully lead their organizations into the future.”

AFP ICON 2019 will also feature the release of new research about fundraising and giving, including the latest figures on donor retention from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project. AFP will also recognize the 2019 Outstanding Fundraising Professional, two amazing Youth in Philanthropy honorees, the Outstanding Young Professionals, and the most recent inductees into its Fellows program.

The conference will feature several new events, including an expanded pre-conference workshop program on March 29-30, and ¡Viva Fiesta!, the official conference party hosted by the AFP San Antonio chapter on Monday evening, April 1.

To register for the conference, see the full listing of sessions and events or obtain conference exhibitor and sponsor information, go to the conference website at Media credentials are available by contacting Michael Nilsen, vice president, communications and public affairs, at

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