The in-depth conversations at Conference 2021 were guided by our five emcees, each focusing on critical question that framed the day’s sessions. Blake-Anthony Johnson, CEO of Chicago Sinfonietta, lead the theme Showing Up for Racial Equity.

By Blake-Anthony Johnson

Thank you for your participation in a wonderful day of insights and thoughtful dialogue on the opportunities in creating pathways for meaningful action that embrace a changed world. Our goal was to share and examine best practices that provide new tangible tools for forward momentum on both our individual and collective journeys. We’ve certainly succeeded!

In a world of endless demands, it is easy to lose our way on the ambitious path of meaningful action and community accountability. In reflecting on my remarks and the words of our keynote speaker, panelists, and conference participants I wanted to synthesize my favorite takeaways:

  1. Reverse engineer your desired outcomes by building out metrics supported by empirical evidence.
  2. Focus on articulated goals that align with your institution’s mission.
  3. Find what brings you joy to arm yourself with the emotional fortitude to “go the distance.”
  4. To maximize your impact as a catalyst of change, remember the work starts with you!
  5. Don’t forget the secret sauce to this work is empathy.

This is work that requires lifelong learning and dedication but will leave a legacy of launching our field through the 21st century and beyond! The underlying concept present at this conference is resilience in the face of resistance. We’ve certainly made progress, and as we strive to push the needle further, remind yourself that you have allies, support, and friends every step of the way.

Your emcee,

Blake-Anthony Johnson
CEO of Chicago Sinfonietta


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