Fast Forward

Fast Forward is the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s (MCF) audio program that features conversations with big thinkers in the field of philanthropy. Through these interviews, listeners learn about the latest trends in Minnesota grantmaking, gain insights on strategies behind important philanthropic efforts, learn about new resources from their peers, and come away inspired with ideas and approaches they can take back to your organization.
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Aug 16, 2018

Anil Hurkadli and Trina Olson return to Fast Forward to discuss the current relationship between Minnesota's philanthropic community and Minnesota's LGBTQIA+ communities. They talk about their ongoing work on the Better OUTcomes Initiative.


Trina Olson is Co-Founder and Principal at Team Dyamics

Anil Hurkadli is Learning and Strategy Officer at Thrivent Foundation

The Better OUTcomes Initiative is a multi-year philanthropic movement to increase funding to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, Two-Spirit and allied people and groups as well as strengthen better philanthropic practices for grantmakers based in Minnesota.

Mar 23, 2018

This is a live recording of the 2018 Annual Conference opening plenary session on the State of Philanthropy.

This panel features:

Mar 13, 2018

Me'Lea Connelly, Director of the Association for Black Economic Power, and Patrick Troska, Executive Director of the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN, discuss their partnership on the Village Trust Financial Cooperative.

The Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) is working to establish Village Trust Financial Cooperative, Minnesota’s only Black-led financial institution. This concept was born 18 months ago in response to the killing of Philando Castile, as a way to use our economic power as a form of resistance to build the financial resilience of our communities, and insulate against extraction and divestment. This is not a new concept, but a strategy with a legacy woven throughout Black history. Financial liberation through institutional power has long been successfully used in lifting communities from economic pain into promise.

With the support of The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, we have spent the last 12 months doing the leg-work, creating the structure and building public commitment necessary to open Village Trust in North Minneapolis in 2019. We are now looking to build a body of supporters and investors who believe in igniting an economic renaissance by, for and with the Black community. We seek to build a network of supporters who see this project as an opportunity to unify a community torn apart by inequitable systems that persist in our state. Village Trust has the potential to be a powerful tool in reversing our equity chasm.  However, it will truly take a village to make this happen.

Feb 1, 2018

CEO of Social Impact Strategies Group, Y. Elaine Rasmussen has over 20 years experience in building transformational relationships and cultural competency in corporations, philanthropy, government, and nonprofits. 

On this episode, Elaine talks about the work of connecting entrepreneurs with investors and about the ConnectUp! conference happening in connection with MCF's annual conference in March!

On March 14-15, 2018 in conjunction with Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Conference, ConnectUP! MN will bring together socially responsible entrepreneurs, investors and key players in the entrepreneur ecosystem in a supportive, inclusive community. Through interactive sessions attendees can connect, learn, share, partner and catalyze investments to actively create a more inclusive Minnesota economy.

Dec 19, 2017

When it comes to voting, Minnesota makes it easy.  That was the headline in a November 2016 New York Times article about Minnesota's tradition of high voter participation. Some of the reasons cited in the story for high turnout were rooted in Minnesota values for effective government, community education and civic engagement.  Also noted is "Minnesota’s voting laws have long focused on removing barriers. In 1974 it became just the second state to embrace same-day registration, which remains essential: In 2012, close to one in five voters registered on the day they cast their ballots."

 Joan Growe, Minnesota's former Secretary of State (1975 to 1999) as a state legislator supported the Minnesota same-day voter registration law (the first in the country) and later, as Secretary of State, worked to implement it. At her side expanding voter participation in Minnesota was Joe Mansky, now Ramsey County Elections Manager.

In this conversation with Joan Growe and Joe Mansky we learn from the people who were there and made it happen about how Minnesota came to have such an envious system for engaging voters. It says something about "Minnesota values." It also says something about a moment in time in Minnesota politics. Some suggest Minnesota is lagging behind in modern election reform (e.g. automatic voter registration) while also being vulnerable to changes, such as voter ID, that have been shown to suppress voter participation.

MCF expects voting rights and suppression to be a high profile issue in both the 2018 legislative session and the 2018 elections. MCF public policy advocacy supports the goal of creating prosperity through inclusion and equity. To advance that goal, we support policies that strengthen democractic institutions and civic engagement, including advocating for policies that promote voting rights. 

This Minnesota Votes: Minnesota Values and Opening Access to the Ballot program is the first in a two part series. The second is a panel presentation on February 16, Minnesota Votes: Protecting the Ballot for All. MCF will also feature Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America as a keynote speaker at its March 2018 conference.

Aug 24, 2017

Anil Hurkadli and Trina Olson talk about ideas surrounding identity and fundraising strategies in philanthropic work. They talk about ideas specific to LGBTQ+ communities as well as broader issues in the sector.

Trina Olson is executive director of PFund Foundation.

Anil Hurkadli is program officer at Thrivent Financial Foundation.

This is part three of a three part series of podcast recordings with Trina and Anil on working with and for LGBTQ+ communities.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Aug 4, 2017

Anil Hurkadli and Trina Olson talk about ideas surrounding identity and fundraising strategies in philanthropic work. They talk about ideas specific to LGBTQ+ communities as well as broader issues in the sector.

Trina Olson is executive director of PFund Foundation.

Anil Hurkadli is program officer at Thrivent Financial Foundation.


Part 1 of this 3 part series can be found here:

Jul 31, 2017

GHR Foundation and OpenIDEO choose 5 Social Innovators as winning cohort in inaugural million dollar BridgeBuilder Challenge!

Mark Guy, senior program officer at GHR Foundation, talks about how the BridgeBuilder Challenge was devised and created, what's happening with the inaugural cohort and shares some plans for future versions of the challenge.

Mark Guy is a senior program officer for GHR Foundation's global development program where he focuses on leveraging child protection interventions that strengthen families, respond to children outside of family care and drive further evidence of innovative, pro-family approaches. He also supports global and domestic early childhood development programs for Better Way Foundation.

Jul 19, 2017


Ms. Mariam Noland is the founding and long-time president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. She built the organization from its founding to $780 million (in 2015) assets for the southeast Michigan metropolitan region, which includes the City of Detroit. A part of her extraordinary leadership has been in working with other community foundations across Michigan to build community-based philanthropy. Ms. Noland was a leader in strategy setting for all of the community foundation related ventures over the past 30 years, and as a member and former chair of CMF’s board, a leading contributor to the development of the philanthropic community in the state.
Jul 5, 2017

Mike Ricci shares the very compelling story that made him transition from working at a wealth management firm to becoming director of professional outreach and investments at the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota. 

Mike has a dual role at CCF. As Investment Officer, Mike provides consistent stewardship of your CCF investments. He also collaborates with the Foundation’s Investment Committee to execute and maintain the long-term investment strategy needed to manage assets in perpetuity.

As Director of Professional Outreach, he spends time cultivating awareness of CCF and its work with wealth managers, accountants, bankers, and attorneys. In this capacity, he aims to broaden CCF’s reach to potential donors who wish to align their philanthropy and Catholic faith to meet the needs of the community.

Jun 7, 2017

“We’re much more interested in quality rather than quantity.”

Awale Osman, Community Innovation Associate at the Bush Foundation, speaks with high school student Kyue his early path through education as an immigrant, why community plays such a large role in his work and laugh and about the programs he works on as a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow at the Bush Foundation.

Awale Osman has a variety of experiences expanding community organizing and program development in nonprofit, K-12 and higher education spaces. Awale has lived disparate experiences—from war-torn Somalia, to Kenyan refugee camps, to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in  American classrooms, to high academic honors—and created much change—expanding after-school opportunities for youth in Twin Cities suburbs, building capacity and confidence in the youth of Rochester, MN, impressing upon U.S. congressmen the value of federal department of education TRIO programs, opening the campus climate for underserved students and increasing the retention rate of Black community college students. He most recently served as a TRIO Student Support Services advisor at Normandale Community College. 

Jun 2, 2017

“Overall, the LGBTQ community is more likely not just to live in poverty but to live in extreme poverty.” – Trina Olson

Trina Olson, executive director of PFund Foundation, and Anil Hurkadli, program officer at Thrivent Financial Foundation, sit down with MCF’s Levi Weinhagen to talk about persistent myths and misconceptions about the LGBTQ community. Trina and Anil talk about why these myths exist, where they come from, what they do and how folks inside and outside philanthropy can work beyond the myths to build relationships with and create programs that serve real people.

Part 2 of this conversation series is HERE 

Part 3 of this conversation series is HERE


In this conversation Trina and Anil mention several resources and significant figures connected to LGBTQ movements, issues and understandings.

Bayard Rustin

Contigo Fund

Paying an Unfair Price

A Broken Bargain

No Golden Years at the end of the Rainbow

Feb 24, 2017

This is a live recording of the 2017 Annual Conference opening plenary session on the State of Philanthropy.

This panel features:

David Biemesderfer, president and CEO, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota State Representative and board member, The Minneapolis Foundation.

Gayle Ober, president, George Family Foundation.

Trista Harris, president, Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Moderator, Levi Weinhagen, communication and media specialist, MCF.


Feb 8, 2017

Patrick Troska talks candidly about going through a new strategic planning process and the role deeper understandings of equity has played in refocusing the work.

Patrick Troska is the Executive Director at the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. Troska also serves as point person for the Foundation's funding strategies in the areas of housing and transit. He has been with the Foundation since 2000, when he came on board as a program officer. In January 2005, Troska was promoted to senior program officer with responsibilities to oversee all aspects of the Foundation's annual grantmaking program, including reviewing all final reports submitted on grants made by the Foundation. From 1997 to 200, he was a fund distribution and community initiatives manager for the United Way of the Saint Paul area. Troska began his career in youth services where he held several positions with the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Children's Museum. He earned his B.A. from St. John's University and holds and M.A. in Leadership from Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Troska has served on many nonprofit boards, including District202, ACTS of St. Paul and Minnesota AIDS Project, which he chaired from April 2010 through April 2012. In June 2009 he completed a fellowship in public policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. 

Jan 18, 2017

"I wouldn't ask somebody to run through a wall if I didn't run through it with them."

Jesse Ross is Policy Associate at the Minneapolis Foundation and a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow

In this episode of the podcast, Jesse talks about how coming from many years working for nonprofits makes him able to understand how foundations and nonprofits view one another and where communication could be improved. He talks about his passion for building relationships, partnerships and community. And he talks about a few specific programs he's really excited to be working on. 

Jesse’s heart is centered on community development, with 12 years of experience in nonprofit and community-based organizations throughout North and South Minneapolis. Jesse works on both program development and direct community engagement, with the goal of empowering people to effectively impact their own communities. Jesse previously worked for Young Life, a global nonprofit organization, and TreeHouse, a local faith-based nonprofit, where his areas of focus included policy and program development, organizational leadership, diversity and culture, youth and family development, fundraising, outreach, and a host of other initiatives.

Dec 19, 2016

"Some foundations deal with disruptions well and some don't."

Bruce Thao talks about coming into F.R. Bigelow and Minnesota Philanthropy Partners as a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow. He shares his excitement about the new Linking Leaders initiative, talks about building relationships with his cohort of fellows and with his philanthropic colleagues. Bruce also shares thoughts on the state of philanthropy under a new federal administration and the importance of having genuine relationships within the communities you're trying to build and work beside.


As a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow through the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Bruce serves as a Program Associate at the F. R. Bigelow Foundation.

At the Foundation, Bruce directs leadership initiatives for communities of color in Saint Paul's East Metro area, spearheads funding initiatives to support innovation in leadership development, and supports the Foundation’s grantmaking to address a variety of human service and capacity needs.

Bruce holds a master's in psychology from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia as well as a master's in social welfare from the University of Chicago.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Bruce founded his own consulting business, providing leadership coaching and diversity training to individuals and institutions, and served as Director of Programs for Hmong American Partnership and Hmong National Development. Bruce was also a 2013 Bush Leadership Fellow and a 2014 White House Champion of Change. 

He was selected as 2016 “Young Professional of the Year” by the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Bruce is also a Board Member of the St. Paul Children’s Collaborative. 

Outside of work, Bruce enjoys running, tennis, meditation and traveling.

Email  or call 651.325.4268

Dec 14, 2016

On this episode, Katie Troyer talks about working on an international team connecting employees with their own personal philanthropic goals and she talks about the relationship she shares with her fellow Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows

Katie Troyer is an Employee Engagement Associate with the Medtronic foundation and part of the 2016 cohort of Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows. Katie has dedicated her career to connecting community members with resources and opportunities. Prior to joining the Medtronic foundation, Katie served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Governor Mark Dayton. In this role, she worked to develop and implement strategies for Minnesotans from communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and the disabilities community to gain employment, contracting, and engagement opportunities within state government and to create an organizational environment of inclusivity. Previous to this role, Katie worked with adults with developmental disabilities to provide support of their personal growth and success.

Dec 6, 2016

On this episode, Sonja Moore talks about the Grotto Foundation’s ongoing strategic planning process, rethinking program focus and having realistic conversations about equity in philanthropy.

Sonja Moore became the Grotto Foundation’s fourth Executive Director in 2014. Previously, she served as Director of Partner Relations at MN Philanthropy Partners, helping fund holders at The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation achieve their philanthropic goals. Sonja also has nearly a decade of fundraising experience working for Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota and the Blake School in Hopkins. Earlier in her career, she was an educator, teaching both Spanish and English to a multitude of age groups ranging from preschool children in a bilingual elementary school to octogenarians at a Community College. She received her Bachelor of Arts in international relations from The American University in Washington, D.C. She also received a Master of Arts in education from Chapman University.

Sonja can be reached at 651-209-8011 or

Aug 15, 2016

The Bush Foundation is accepting applications for the 2017 Bush Fellowship from August 30 through September 29, 2016, so Bush Leadership Programs director Anita Patel sat down with MCF to talk about the goals of the program, share ideas on how to approach applying for the fellowship and discuss the work that's been coming from current and past fellows. As Leadership Programs director, Patel works with a team to equip, inspire and connect leaders to strengthen our region. As someone who grew up in greater Minnesota and went to high school in Granite Falls (Archibald Bush’s hometown), Patel believes in the talent that lives across the Bush Foundation region and is excited to invest in the success of our communities.

Aug 10, 2016

“We’re going to stay here. But we want to get bigger impact.” On this episode of Fast Forward, Tawanna Black talks about what it takes to build a partnership with the public sector like she has done between the Northside Funders Group and the City of Minneapolis. She discusses how to get at changing the way philanthropy works inside public sector institutions beyond policy change but also helping reshape their grantmaking. She shares the four levers of the work of the Northside Funders Group, dives into the very real challenges of sustainability and speaks openly about how to keep fear of failing from preventing risk taking. Tawanna is the executive director for the Northside Funders Group, a collaborative of 19 corporate, community and private foundations and public sector investors committed to aligning investments to catalyze comprehensive, sustainable change in North Minneapolis.

Jul 29, 2016

“Trying to put band aids on things will never work," says John Schwartz, director and founder of the Voqal Companies. Here Schwartz talks about the work of Voqal to address the “Homework Gap.” He also addresses civic engagement and why political change is vital in making sure everyone has access to good schooling. A public media advocate for 40 years, Schwartz has founded community radio and television stations and brought wireless broadband services to cities throughout the U.S. In 1983, he started what is now called Voqal—five nonprofit organizations that have licenses in the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) band. Using the organizations’ spectrum, commercial operator Clearwire (a Sprint subsidiary) delivers 4G wireless broadband to most major U.S. cities. In exchange for use of the spectrum, Clearwire provides Voqal with royalties, which they allocate to their operations and grantmaking efforts. 

Jul 11, 2016

“There are aggressive attacks on voting rights that we did not see in the 1990s," says Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project. Dianis has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing and employment. She has protected the rights of people of color in the midst of some of the greatest civil rights crises of our modern times, including in Florida after the 2000 election and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In this episode, she talks about voting rights today and why she believes the trend of making it harder to vote is something that will continue. She discusses her work on the ground in Florida during the 2000 election, what that tells us about today and how she started a voting protection program as a result. She also covers communities’ relationships to voter rights laws and shares opinions on potential structural change to voting in the U.S.

Jun 24, 2016

Ruy Teixeira is a senior fellow at both The Century Foundation and American Progress. He is also co-director of States of Change: Demographics and Democracy project, a collaboration that brings together American Progress, the American Enterprise Institute and demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including America’s New Swing Region: Changing Politics and Demographics in the Mountain West; Red, Blue and Purple America: The Future of Election Demographics; The Emerging Democratic Majority; America’s Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters; and The Disappearing American Voter, as well as hundreds of articles, both scholarly and popular.

Jun 8, 2016

“Impact investing is a practice and it’s something you get better at or you get more comfortable with," says Elizabeth McGeveran who joined The McKnight Foundation in 2014 as director of impact investing. She is responsible for the foundation’s $200 million investment in businesses and funds that are building the low-carbon economy, improving the water quality of the Mississippi River and contributing to a thriving, sustainable Minnesota. This portfolio represents 10 percent of the foundation’s $2 billion endowment. McGeveran also provides environmental, social and governance expertise and evaluation across the entire endowment. On this episode, McGeveran talks about how the foundation looked at ways to leverage its assets and came to view its endowment's market earnings as an underused resource. She talks about the process the board went through to assess potential shifts in alignment, describes the Midwest Climate and Energy Program and the Carbon Efficiency Fund.

May 31, 2016

Susan Voigt is program manager at the Medica Foundation. Before joining Medica, she was employed by several nonprofits, start-ups and IBM. As someone who has been on the grantee end of incorporating evaluation into the work and is now on the funder side, Voigt has real insights about how evaluation tools can and should be used as tools for learning rather than just accountability. In this episode, she also talks about common shared metrics as a big picture idea and explains the idea of field of practice evaluation.

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