Who We Are

Conveners.org recognizes the transformative power that convening, when done right, has to positively change the world. We have built a community of mission-driven conveners and accelerators who learn from each other, build the larger capacity of the field, and construct pathways to more efficiently realize change.

At Conveners.org

We build transformative platforms for impact-focused organizations to meaningfully connect with each other.

About Us

With 1000+ impact-focused conferences occurring each year and the rapid launch of a new accelerator on a seemingly daily basis, the impact ecosystem is getting crowded. Opportunity costs are high, as organizations operate in silos. Information is fragmented and resources are spread thin.

Conveners.org was created to foster coordination, collaboration, and learning among impact-focused conveners, accelerators, and mappers. We are a nonprofit organization that develops programs, tools, and resources to support these communities in advancing systems-level change.

WHAT OUR MEMBERS SAY

“Conveners.org is like having your own personal cavalry. They are super strategic and empathically have your back.”

Joy Anderson | Criterion Institute

FEATURE 1
We Connect Networks

Building communities of practice for impact-focused conveners and accelerators | Facilitating strategic introductions | Creating tools and hosting opportunities for peers to connect and collaborate

FEATURE 2
We Share Knowledge

Identifying knowledge gaps | Building online resources to help practitioners navigate a growing field | Conducting original research | Curating and distributing industry content & thought leadership

FEATURE 3
We Build Capacity

Offering in-person and virtual opportunities for practitioners to develop and hone relevant skills | Coaching & training in ‘purpose-first’ experience design | Advisory services offerings to design & facilitate impactful convenings

Our Origin

Conveners.org emerged from conversations among impact convening organizers who wanted to embrace a more coordinated and collaborative approach to their work. Topher Wilkins, SaraJoy Pond, and Avary Kent launched Convening the Conveners in October 2013 with the idea that a common platform would allow organizations to more easily connect with each other.

In 2015, Conveners.org launched a membership program for this community with the support of Sujatha Sebastian. It also formalized Accelerating the Accelerators, a peer learning network open to impact accelerators around the world. In 2017, it formally launched “Mapping the Mappers,” a network of impact mappers that raises awareness of global impact mapping efforts.

MEET THE TEAM

Avary Kent

Head of Innovation

Avary Kent is a serial social entrepreneur with expertise in bringing ideas to life.

She is the Founding Executive Director of Conveners.org building the impact ecosystem through more effective convening, accelerators, and mapping initiatives. She is a leader in experience design to support her clients in the development of participant focused events integrating human centered design techniques that deliver outstanding feedback and results.

As an on-site facilitator she has worked with politicians, academics, cyber security experts, factory owners and workers, investors, and foundation leaders. She is adept at navigating challenging conversations and supporting groups towards productive dialogue and action. She has designed and led the Convening17 initiative to identify urgent, important, and actionable next steps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. She was also the co-founder of ImpactAlpha, The Happiness Institute, and Puzzlebox LLC.

She received a BS in Genetics and Geobotanical Field Ecology from George Washington University and an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Dominican University.


SaraJoy Pond

Executive Director and Head of Impact

One of the co-founders of Conveners.org, SaraJoy Pond leverages her background in research, communications and experience design to help clients recognize and build on the bright spots of their convenings, then balance the pragmatism of quick wins with the support to authentically engage around big opportunities for change. As a facilitator, SaraJoy is deeply committed to the power of storytelling for social innovation and change processes and takes a capacity-building and strengths-based approach to all her interactions. She has a passion for, and deep experience in facilitating charged, intersectional conversations and helping disparate groups coalesce and move toward productive dialogue, understanding, and action.

SaraJoy received a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Journalism from Colorado State University and did her doctoral work at Brigham Young University in Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation. She has worked as an adjunct professor at universities across the country, instructing graduate and undergraduate students in quantitative and qualitative research methodology, measurement & evaluation, visual communications, human-centered experience design, and facilitation.

She has presented research, facilitated trainings, and led workshops on four continents; from working with impact investors exploring alternative currencies for triple-bottom-line accounting in Paris, to training educators in participatory evaluation in Bolivia, to developing a capacity-building impact assessment framework with a 12-village collective in rural Mali.

SaraJoy is the founder of TippingBucket.org, one of the world’s first purpose-based crowdfunding platforms, where she engaged a community of more than 10,000 donors to raise $1M toward 75+ successful projects around the world. She has also worked as a creative director, user-experience designer, usability specialist, curriculum consultant, professional evaluator, academic editor and newspaper reporter.


Stephanie Brady

Head of Partnerships and Growth

Stephanie is a Boulder-based sustainable growth and social innovation champion with a kaleidoscope of cross-sector experience. Stephanie has a keen ability to seamlessly teleport between ecosystem visioning, strategic big-picture thinking and practical deep-dive doing. She’s enjoys bringing impact to scale, nurturing values-based connections and cultivating game-changing partnerships. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, biking, fishing and skiing in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

She brings more than 15 years of sustainable growth and social innovation expertise to nonprofits, purpose-driven brands and social ventures. She has led strategic initiatives for progressive organizations including the United Way Worldwide, International Rescue Committee, The Conservation Fund, American Lung Association, Shriners Children’s Hospitals and the Oskar Blues Foundation.

As a champion of collaborative learning, collective impact, and design thinking principles, Stephanie helps executive teams, change makers and impact architects accelerate program incubation-to-scale efforts, strengthen market position, leverage partnership value, maximize stakeholder engagement and amplify messaging strategies.

Stephanie’s passion for mission-minded work emerged from more than 10 years in the private sector, leading omni-channel growth and new product launch initiatives for America’s most familiar brands including Mrs. Fields, PepsiCo, Firehouse Subs, Marriott, IBM, Sylvania Lighting and Hasbro.

Stephanie holds an MBA from the University of Tampa and a BS degree from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.


Sarah Sterling

Program Catalyst

Sarah Sterling has years of experience working with entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations on developing effective impact metrics, program development and management, social media outreach, fundraising, and team leadership skills and training. Sarah has over 5 years of experience working with and training international organizations such as Mercy Corps, Oxfam International, SOCAP, and Agora Partnerships, as well as impact investment funds, and social entrepreneurs in Latin America in areas of organizational sustainability and impact metrics development.

She has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey where one focus of her studies was how to work with organizations to develop their strategies around fundraising and building core competencies and confidence in the leaderships/management team in grant writing – both to governmental organizations and non-profit grant agencies.


Rei Champion

Director of Operations

Rei Champion brings a passion for international development and collaboration for social equity to Conveners.org. He is a management specialist with experience in human resources, strategic planning, and operations logistics. Rei is a kinesthetic learner and he flourishes in experiential learning environments.

He has served in several applied fellowships including the AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellowship (MPF) at Northeastern University, Community Fellows at the Boston University School of Management, and Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Originally from Hawaii, Rei holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and cycling around his family’s home in the Washington Metro area.


headshot of Candy Tai

Candy Tai

Director of Communications

Candy is a Texas native who resides in the Kansas City area with her family. She is an experienced digital marketing and communications professional who’s worked as a digital influencer, and with for-profit and nonprofit entities. She has a passion for utilizing storytelling to build and implement a social media strategy.

In her spare time, she enjoys hanging at her kids’ little league games, swimming, travel, and reality TV. Fun fact: Candy once bungee jumped off the roof of a Las Vegas hotel.


Michael Kass

Michael Kass

Program Support

Rena O'Brien

Rena O’Brien

Program Support


Meet the Board

TJ Cook

T.J. Cook

A tech strategist who’s been helping entrepreneurs scale impact for more than 20 years (CauseLabs, ABIQ), TJ is instrumental in helping Conveners.org integrate the right technology, in the right way, at the right time.

Elvis Fraser

Elvis Fraser

With his passion for, and deep engagement with, impact measurement, evaluation, and learning (Sankofa, Gates Foundation), Elvis helps keep Conveners.org strategically aligned and accountable for our efforts.

Christine Lai

Christine Lai

An expert on cross-sector collaboration and ecosystem building (Kauffman Foundation), with an impressive track record of success in fostering it, Christine’s insightful questions help Conveners.org stay true to its core in every decision.

Jessica Loman

Jessica Loman

With a decade of experience convening impact investors (TONIIC) and social entrepreneurs, plus her personal commitment to convening as a force for peace and social justice, Jessica is a grounding guiding voice for Conveners.org.

Joseph Mouzon

Joseph Mouzon

Joseph’s deep roots building the philanthropic sector (Tides Foundation, Giving Sphere, Network for Good) and extensive experience as a veteran board member, have helped Conveners.org integrate best practices from the start.

Topher Wilkins

Topher Wilkins

Conveners.org cofounder and CEO of Opportunity Collaboration, Topher is a connecter extraordinaire who’s been building cross-sector collaborations for more than a decade. His vision is foundational to our success.

Sujatha Sebastian

Sujatha Sebastian

Emeritus Board Member

Sujatha thrives helping diverse stakeholders to build trust, collaborate and advance systems change. As cofounder and former managing director of membership and advisory services, Sujatha helped develop Conveners.org’s founding mission and vision.

“Conveners.org is like having your own personal cavalry. They are super strategic and empathically have your back.”

Joy Anderson | Criterion Institute

“There’s something incredibly special going on with this organization. They are inspired champions of mission-driven networks.”

Steve Havill | Conscious Capitalism

“Conveners.org provides us the opportunity to share best practices, develop partnerships, create collaborations, and network with like-minded innovators.”

Jill Ultan | Skoll World Forum

“Conveners.org provides a wealth of insights from thought leaders we would never have been able to access on our own.”

Lindsay Morris | TNP Academy

“Conveners.org provides you resources, recipes for success and an awesome network.”

Pratik Gauri | India Needs You Foundation

“This work moves at the speed of trust. Conveners.org builds that trust.”

Elaine Rasmussen |
Social Impact Strategies Group

“Running an accelerator can be lonely. Having this community fosters more innovation and ultimately better outcomes.”

C’pher Gresham | SEED Spot

“Our Accelerator stand-up calls have evolved into a potent source of community for sharing best practices and collaboration.”

Ryan Ross | Halcyon Incubator

“The calls illustrate the magic of Conveners.org in creating spaces and combining networks in new ways.”

Ryan Ross | Halcyon Incubator

“Conveners.org has shown us by example how to deepen connections and collaborations through intentional meeting experiences.”

Patricia Marquez | University of San Diego

“Their work is essential to further the collective impact of networks for positive change.”

Jessica Loman | Toniic

“If you want to learn about increasing the impact of your events and create more successful gatherings, you should connect with Conveners.org.”

Deb Nelson | RSF Social Finance

“Conveners.org brings the right mix of competence, flexibility and independence in executing a client’s vision. It has been a pleasure working with them.”

Connie Evans |
Association of Enterprise Opportunity

“With their broad knowledge of the convening space, they brought savvy ideas and helpful frameworks that shaped many aspects of our Summit.”

Kila Englebrook | Social Enterprise Alliance

“Conveners.org has connected us to global peers for give/get moments that help us better serve our customers.”

Pamela Roussos |
Miller Center for Social Enterpreneurship

“We appreciate the tools and support we’ve received from Conveners.org around how to host effective virtual meetings and run an effective social impact organization.”

Almaz Negash | African Diaspora Network

“In this challenging convening environment, Conveners.org has been my go-to resource. They have proven their value repeatedly as a source of reliable and trusted advice.”

Melanie Nowacki | Feeding America