Family Promise hosted a Symposium last month that saw Affiliate members from across the country gather in Morristown, NJ, for three days of collaboration, networking, and learning.
“Attendees from across the country made new connections, laughed, studied, and then returned to their offices to put their new learnings into practice,” said Family Promise Chief Operating Officer Sandy Miniutti.
Days were filled with panel discussions, hyper-focused workshops, and breakout sessions where attendees could engage with peers in small groups. The panel discussions featured a mix of national staff members, Affiliate representatives, and industry experts. Topics ranged from the importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and how to sustainably scale your Affiliate; to best practices on how to engage people with lived experience of homelessness.
“Engaging people with lived experience in our strategic planning and programming is essential to our next chapter of growth as we work to elevate families out of poverty,” said Family Promise of Brevard (FL) Executive Director Tara Pagliarini.
While Pagliarini found the Engaging People with Lived Experience panel valuable, she provided value herself as a panelist on the Sustainably Scale Your Affiliate panel. And that perfectly encapsulates the impact of the Family Promise Symposium: attendees provided and gained knowledge in equal measure.
“The biggest takeaway from this week is that everyone wants to help and there are people out there doing everything in their power to help,” said Kenyal Braswell, a member of Family Promise’s Guest Advisory Council.
Braswell served as a panelist on two panels: How to Engage People with Lived Experience and Ethical Storytelling. She was able to shed light on the importance of maintaining relationships with Family Promise graduates, while also providing insight into best practices for telling family success stories online. One of her most memorable tips was, “Don’t ask me how I became homeless.” Why? Because the answer will unearth past traumas.
Attendees learned that the best questions to ask Family Promise graduates should focus on their time at Family Promise—not what happened before they were introduced to their respective Affiliates.
The fact that Braswell’s advice was delivered in-person was significant. The Morristown Symposium was the first time Family Promise Affiliate members met in-person since April 2019.
“There is something truly powerful about interacting with Family Promise community members from across the country who are as invested and passionate about our success as their own,” Pagliarini said.
“One of our core values at Family Promise is Community,” Miniutti added. “And the Symposium was the embodiment of this value with staff, board members, and former guest of our program all coming together.”