Women Donors Network is hosting our Annual Conference, WDN Connect 2016, in the city of Detroit, November 10-13. Just days after the elections, we will gather to reflect, analyze, and strategize in our efforts to build a more progressive and equitable future. We will also learn much more about Detroit, a city that is a case study for renewal and rebirth in the face of massive industrial restructuring, job loss, and environmental and education crises. We will hear from a range of community leaders who have inspired innovation and creative strategies to organize and rebuild. We will get out into the city with guided tours that will help us gain a better understanding of the issues facing Detroit. And we will engage with our grantees, WDN members, and other leaders to better understand our collective purpose and impact.

LIVE WITH LAURA FLANDERS: Inside the 2016 Elections and Beyond

In the critical days after the polls close on Nov. 8, we will dive into the issues sure to be on the agenda of the first 100 days of a new administration and explore how we can push for progressive change from inside and outside the political system. Acclaimed journalist Laura Flanders will join us to analyze the results and guide a discussion with top movement leaders as we reflect and plot our course under a new President and Congress. 

Pre-Conference Election Debrief & Strategy Session
Thursday, November 10, 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Laura Flanders

Laura is a best-selling author and broadcaster. After many years in public and commercial radio, she founded The Laura Flanders Show / GRITtv in 2008 to serve as an online channel for in-depth conversations with forward-thinking people from the worlds of politics, economics, business and the arts. 

Gabriela Lemus

Gabriela Lemus is the president of Progressive Congress. He has previously served as a Senior Advisor to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Director of the Office of Public Engagement. She was the first woman executive director at the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). 

Tracy Sturdivant

Tracy is co-founder and co-executive director of Make It Work, and a native of Detroit. She ran State Voices for many years and she serves on several boards including National Domestic Workers Alliance and Higher Heights for America

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Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson is the executive director of Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. As a force driven by over one million members, Color Of Change moves decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people, and all people.

HEALING and hope

A Conversation with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

A pediatrician in Flint, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha discovered lead poisoning in school children and helped raise the alarm about one of the worst environmental injustices of American history. Laura Flanders will interview Dr. Hanna-Attisha about her story and her vision for building a healthy future.


Featuring Reflective Democracy Campaign Director Brenda Choresi Carter, Rep. Donna Edwards, who has represented Maryland’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past 8 years, and moderated by Rebecca Thompson, Director of Good Jobs Now in Detroit and host of the podcast series, Changing the Face of Power.

Brenda Choresi Carter

Director, Reflective Democracy Campaign

Rep. Donna Edwards

U.S. House of Representatives, Maryland's 4th District

Rebecca Thompson

Director, Good Jobs Now


WDN Senior Advisor Ashindi Maxton will lead this session delving into the newest strategy of the Jean Hardisty Catalytic Impact Fund: supporting Black-led organizing designed to bring more transparency and accountability to the increasingly important role of elected prosecutors in the criminal justice system.

Ashindi Maxton

Ashindi is an independent strategist and donor advisor with extensive work in democracy reform, racial justice, and education. She has developed funding strategy informing more than $100 million in investments from some of the largest foundations and individual donors in the United States including the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, and the Sandler Family Foundation. 


Alicia Garza

Alicia is an organizer, writer and freedom dreamer based in Oakland, CA. She directs We Dream in Black, a project of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and is an inaugural grantee of WDN's Jean Hardisty Catalytic Impact Fund. In 2013, Alicia co-founded #BlackLivesMatter, an international organizing network developed after the murder of Trayvon Martin, focused on combating anti-Black racism in all of its forms.

Circle Showcase

We will feature short talks from WDN members who have been leading intersectional and issue-based work in the Circles.


We will be joined by two influential Detroiters. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson will provide a primer on Detroit history: How has the city changed over the decades? What are the forces at play? What has his experience been like as he has witnessed the struggles of the city in which he grew up? Jocelyn Benson is the CEO of Rise to Win and Director of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School, will also join us as she shares her story and her vision for Detroit.

Stephen Henderson won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Award for Commentary “for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique."

Jocelyn Benson CEO of Rise to Win and Director of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School.  She is a co-founder of the Military Spouses of Michigan and a board member of the Southern Poverty Law Center. 


Join us for a “living room conversation” with a group of dynamic women who are leading innovative efforts in Detroit on the issues of the day — including immigrant rights,education, anti-hate organizing, environmental justice, and the Movement for Black Lives.


Lacy Dawson

Lacy Dawson is the Detroit Field Director with Michigan Voice. Her passion is to engage and empower citizens throughout Detroit to make collective and individual strides toward eliminating social and economic disparities.

Rashida Tlaib

Rashida was the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature. She currently serves as the Community Partnerships & Development Director at the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice and manager of the Campaign to Take on Hate

Marcia Black

Marcia is the Detroit Secretary for Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100). BYP 100 is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people.



COLORS Restaurant in Detroit couples farm-to-table cuisine with sustainable wages for employees and training for hundreds of restaurant workers, and is operated by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Saru Jayaraman

Saru is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in dozen of states nationwide.


What do we need to shift in our own lives to make meaningful change? How do we shape the future together? What does Detroit teach us about how to support real change that empowers communities? In this interactive session, we’ll unpack what we’ve learned over the course of our conference and discuss how we can apply our learnings to our own philanthropy and activism.

adrienne maree brown

adrienne is a writer, facilitator, doula, healer and pleasure activist living in Detroit. She is the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements with Walidah Imarisha, and author of the forthcoming Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (AK Press, 2017).


Democratic nominee for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will share her experience as a woman of color running on a police reform platform for election as a prosecutor – an office in which four out of five seats nationally are held by white men. 

Kim Foxx

Kim Foxx is the Democratic nominee for Cook County State's Attorney, the second-most populous county in the U.S. In March, Foxx won the nomination and beat the incumbent who was criticized by #BlackLivesMatter activists and others for mishandling and neglecting high-profile police killings.