By Lauren Woodman, CEO
Wow! After months of planning and seemingly endless anticipation, the NetHope Global Summit seems to have come and gone in an absolute blur of activity. For the NetHope staff, this year’s event was an important one: with a strategic plan, several new team members, and a renewed vision that reflects our members’ collaboration, commitment and aspirations, we were eager to host an event that brought those oh-so-important characteristics of NetHope to life.
As in past years, we had a host of great keynotes and sessions that deepened our knowledge and expanded our thinking. We set aside time for networking, to help build the important bonds that create the opportunity for true partnership and collaboration. And we – in a somewhat new twist this year – set aside one night to celebrate together. And boy, did we have some fun!
During a conference as jam-packed as this one, it’s impossible to catch every session, explore every great idea, or connect with every attendee, but with the benefit of a few weeks to reflect, I’ve been struck by three impressions that, for me, sum up this year’s incredible event.
Summit is Like a Family Reunion
The first was that the NetHope community is incredibly rich, vibrant, and committed to tackling very tough challenges together. We often say this at NetHope – that collaboration is the key to making meaningful progress in development and conservation – but seeing it in action at the Summit is powerful and inspiring. Newcomers often remark that they immediately feel among peers when they come to the Summit, and this year was no exception. As one first-time attendee remarked to me toward the end of the week, the Summit felt like a “family reunion” because of the connections he had made in just a few short days. Whether you represent a nonprofit or a corporate partner, we all come to the Summit with a commitment to learn from each other and work together for a better world.
We Are Still Growing
The second thing that impressed me was that despite the already broad nature of the NetHope community, we continue to welcome and benefit from new participants. This year we welcomed 280 participants, including 11 new nonprofits and almost 30 sponsors. Even as the Summit continues to grow – this year was the largest NetHope Summit ever – our commitment to participatory, collaborative impact remains as we incorporate unique and diverse perspectives and talents. As we continue to tackle big issues and grow our influence, our eagerness to invite others that share our dedication to collective action grows and grows.
Our Members Are a Powerhouse
And lastly, I was struck by the aspiration of our members who work each and every day in remarkably difficult environments against very hard problems. The NetHope community does not shy away from the sometimes seemingly intractable issues to which each organization has committed itself. Quite the opposite: we embrace the challenge that poverty, climate change, inequality, hunger, conflict and disaster present and renew our commitment to finding solutions. As my father would say, we don’t swing for first base. It is humbling and inspiring, and it spurs us to even greater effort to serve our community well.
This year was only my second Summit, and even though the week went by in a blur, I left Copenhagen deeply thankful for the opportunity to work with this amazing community. We have a tremendous amount of work to do in the coming years, but if the momentum of the Summit week is any indication, we can accomplish incredible things together.
My deepest thanks to all of our attendees, our Summit Steering Committee, and all of the members, sponsors and staff that helped make the week possible. If you missed a session, they are all online and ready to stream here on the Solutions Center! If you have feedback or suggestions for next year, please reach out and share your ideas.
We’re already planning next year!