Nonprofits in Allegheny County employ 75,000 people a year, accounting for eight to nine percent of total employment, says Kate Dewey, president of The Forbes Funds. That’s more than the manufacturing industry or the construction industry.

“The nonprofit community has really grown into a significant and formidable element of our long-term success in the region,” she says.

So it’s fitting that at this year’s Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP) Summit on October 15th, nonprofits, government, foundation and business leaders are coming together to leverage the power of their unique strengths to tackle our community’s challenges and opportunities.

“We’ve decided to make this stay true to the word, ‘summit,’” says Samantha Balbier, executive director of GPNP. “It’s an opportunity for the public, nonprofit and private sectors to come together and discuss key regional issues.

“No single sector can affect positive change on complex societal issues alone. The summit demonstrates the importance of working together and celebrating the important contributions that the nonprofit sector makes to the quality of life in our region.”

One great example is the work of keynote speaker Kimbal Musk, says Dewey. An entrepreneur who sits on the boards of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and several other organizations, Musk is a businessman who founded The Kitchen Community, a nonprofit that tackles childhood obesity.

Keynote speaker Kimbal Musk. Photo courtesy of GPNP
Keynote speaker Kimbal Musk. Photo courtesy of GPNP

Musk understands the strengths of mulitple sectors and how to make connections that bring positive social change to scale, she adds.

Balbier says the summit will be an important networking event for the expected 1200 to 1500 attendees. From Attack Theatre’s opening participatory dance to the final rooftop reception, the event will feature professional development and community dialogue sessions. Highlights include:

  • Health in All Policies: Creating a Culture of Health. Speakers are Dr. Karen Hacker, director, Allegheny County Health Department; Dr. Donald Schwarz, director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • p4: People, Planet, Place and Performance: Metrics for Success in a Dynamic City sponsored by The Heinz Endowments. Speakers are Ray Gastil, director of city planning;  Mark Minnerly, director of real estate at Mosites Company; Aurora Sharrard, vice president of innovation at Green Building Alliance; and Presley Gillespie, president, Neighborhood Allies
  • Accelerating Good. Speakers are Bob Starzynski, director of business development, Innovation Works; Jean-Luc Parc, founding partner, Ferrum Capital Partners; Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, manager, Social Enterprise Initiatives Idea Foundry; Ian Rosenberger, founder and CEO, Thread; Chris Maury, founder and CEO, Conversant Labs
  • Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Expediting Workforce Development Efforts Through Partnership and Communications. Sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation. Speakers are Laurie Roy, director of human resources, Alcoa; Linda Topoleski, vice president, Allegheny Conference; Brian White, superintendent, Chartiers Valley School District; Carolyn George, administrator, Ohio Department of Education

Check here for a full list of professional development and community dialogue sessions.

“Attendees will get the chance to immerse themselves in some subject matter that will help them reflect on their own practice and potentially secure some ideas that will improve their work,” says event co-chair Gregg Behr of The Grable Foundation. His co-chair is Susan Baker Shipley, president of the Western PA/Ohio Valley region, Huntington Bank.

Private and public agencies who contract largely with nonprofits will be reminded of how entrepreneurial and creative the nonprofit sector can be, Behr adds. It’s a chance for the sectors to brainstorm.

“I’m really hopeful that particularly folks in the business fields who serve on boards will attend, and I think it will be an enriching experience for board members themselves,” he notes.

And, he adds, that at this conference, where the content is rich and the collection of people is varied, the best things just may happen in the hallways through informal networking and vibrant conversations among acquaintances, stimulated by the sessions.

“None of the sectors are sufficient in and of themselves to tackle significant community issues. We need one another,” says Dewey.

Buy tickets here for the GPNP summit.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.