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Failfest: Learning from Failure

November 30th, 2017
9:00AM to 11:00AM
Philanthropy Massachusetts, 133 Federal Street, Suite 802, Boston, MA
Event type:
Philanthropic trends
Member fee:
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Foundation staff and trustees are invited to join their fellow grantmakers at Failfest, a facilitated session on foundation openness and learning from failure, on NOVEMBER 30, 2017, 9:00am-11:00am.  The goal of this workshop is to provide a space for foundations to learn from failures as a means to being more open and effective in your work.  Participants will hear example of initiatives, projects, strategies, etc., that may not have had the intended results (i.e., failure) but provided lessons nonetheless. A panel of colleagues will share their stories of failure and address questions. This interactive session will allow participants time to share their own experiences as well as learn from others.

Register now for Failfest facilitated by Lisa Spalding, Partner at The Philanthropic Initiative. This program is supported in part by a grant from the United Philanthropy Forum as part of a nationally funded program supported by the Fund for Shared Insight.
AGM also hosted a companion session, Foundation Openness and Using Feedback Effectively, as part of this initiative, on November 2, 2017


lisa-spalding.jpgLisa Spalding, Partner at The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), works with clients to increase the impact of their giving through strategic planning, facilitation, social issues research, and design and evaluation of philanthropic strategies and initiatives. She is a seasoned facilitator and convener, having led retreats and trainings for a wide range of foundations around the country focused on strategic planning, succession, governance, and evaluation. She has led numerous workshops and trainings on engaging the next generation, the power of family philanthropy, finding a focus, and exploring your legacy. Prior to joining TPI, Lisa developed and managed community outreach programs for the New England Forestry Foundation. She also worked at the Ecosystem Management Initiative, helping environmental organizations and collaboratives develop evaluation and adaptive management plans. Lisa has ten years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in conservation and environmental education, including the New England Aquarium, Boston. Lisa has a Master’s degree from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College.


Jennifer Aronson is Associate Vice President for Programs at the Boston Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking operations and strategy which allocates $16 million annually in Greater Boston across five "impact areas" (Education, Health & Wellness, Jobs & Economic Development, Housing & Neighborhoods, and Arts & Culture), two "cross-cutting strategies" (Nonprofit Effectiveness and Grassroots), and responsively to the community at large (via the Open Door Grants Program).

Jennifer also oversees the Foundation’s Nonprofit Effectiveness strategy which supports effective, sustainable and inclusive leadership, capacity and data-driven resources as the three linchpins necessary for Greater Boston nonprofits to effectively deliver on their missions. Under her oversight in 2013 the Boston Foundation launched Collaborate Boston (www.collaborateboston.org) a $100,000 prize competition that catalyzes and supports resident–led, cross-sector collaboration to develop solutions to our region’s toughest challenges. She also oversees the Giving Common (www.givingcommon.org), an in-depth database of Massachusetts nonprofits that facilitates strategic philanthropy.

Prior to this role Jennifer oversaw the implementation and year-one operations of StreetSafe Boston, the Boston Foundation’s 5-year, $20 million initiative to prevent and intervene in gang activity in a subset of Boston neighborhoods disproportionately and persistently affected by high rates of violent crime. In 2015 StreetSafe was incorporated into the City of Boston’s Violence Interrupters program.

Jennifer holds a BA cum laude and an MA with honors in Art History from Columbia University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School where she was an HBS Social Enterprise Fellow. Jennifer currently serves as an Advisory Council or Board member of the Lenny Zakim Fund, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, United Teen Equality Center, the Greenlight Fund and The Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center. She believes that collaboration as well as diversity, equity and inclusion are necessary parts of effective social change efforts and speaks and writes frequently on these issue.

Mariella Puerto is a co-director for Climate, managing Barr’s grantmaking and other initiatives that catalyze the transition to a clean-energy economy. This includes promoting policies and practices that accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable power sources in the New England region and connecting to similar efforts nationally. She serves on the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and as co-chair of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities’ GREEN! Working Group.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2001, Mariella spent four years as deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program and three years as founding director of the Boston Lead Action Collaborative, a public-private partnership created to address the high rates of childhood lead poisoning in Boston. Before embarking on her career in the nonprofit sector, Mariella was a co-op owner of a vegetarian restaurant in Vermont.

Born in Malaysia of Filipino, Chinese, and Thai heritage, Mariella immigrated to the United States in 1986. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, and her master’s degree in political science from Ohio University.

Registration type: 
Normal registration

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Refunds: When an event or program requires payment, payment is required in advance unless alternative arrangements have been made with an Philanthropy MA staff member. If payment has not been received and/or arrangements have not been made three or more business days before the event date, Philanthropy MA reserves the right to cancel your unpaid reservation. Philanthropy MA does not provide refunds, but a credit good for one year may be issued for future events if notice of nonattendance is received three or more business days prior to the event. If you need to cancel your event registration, please email AGM staff at info@agmconnect.org.

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