Mark Brewer to Discuss Why Change Drives Life at State of Talent Conference

Business Q & A

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JUL 6, 2020

The State of Talent Conference (SOTC) is a premier one-day conference experience completely focused on the future of workforce and talent development. Powered by CareerSource Suncoast, with partnered host Game On Nation, this leadership-focused conference provides a unique insight into the current state of talent in the workforce. Each year, SOTC brings together some of the best speakers from across the nation focused on talent development to help businesses engage their most valuable assets. With 500+ attendees, participants leave with insightful management strategies, networking and inspiration from the lineup of speakers brought on. While the original live event was canceled this year in light of COVID-19, SOTC will now be providing a free and immersive digital experience on Thursday, July 16, 2020. Of the 10 speakers on board to present an engaging virtual presentation, SRQ connected with a few of the bright lights to hear what they're excited to bring to the table for our region's entrepreneurs and change-makers.

First up is Mark Brewer, Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy and President/CEO of Central Florida Foundation. With over 20+ years at the helm for the foundation, Brewer had earned respect by building a number of strong community partnerships, as well as working with hundreds of individuals, families and corporations to establish philanthropy plans, endowments, funding strategies, and planned gifts to produce measurable monetary results. 

SRQ: What are you most excited to bring to the SOTC conference this year? 

Mark: This is a moment for change in the world and the Independent sector has a leadership role. While many are scared by the dramatic and quick change to the economy and now must find new ways to make business models and operations work in the new economy post-COVID, and with an equity lens to help us heal.

What will your seminar topic cover and what influenced your theme?

The need for a solid theory of change and transformational leadership in the post-COVID world. As the pandemic continues and the impact of the recession sets in, nonprofits must define their civic value and create more diverse revenue streams. The best innovation requires disruption to begin the rebuilding process. There are many innovative ideas, but without the disruption, mostly nothing changes. The pandemic and America’s national reckoning over systemic racism are the disrupters that “norm” that will allow for innovation to take place. We should now move more quickly to solve complex problems that we’ve all been “working on” for a long time without success.

What ideals or tools went into developing your presentation?  

Social enterprises need to have strong theories of change. Tending to social issues is a process. Solving them or trending toward solutions requires a valid “if, then” statement. If we do this … then this will happen. A theory of change is validated in three ways–academic study, experience and data, or model validation. Transformational leadership refers to the knowledge and skills of volunteer leaders and boards of directors bring to a nonprofit organization. The ability to mix fiduciary, strategic, and generative leaders at the board table provides the right mix of leadership to execute outcome-based theories of change. 

What do you hope for Sarastoans to take away? 

In spite of the chaos in the world and the economy right now, we are in a unique time of change. All we need are willing communities of people to apply working strategies and leadership to make our way through the haze.

Do you have any practical advice or “a-ha” moments you had in your professional life you can share?

Change is what drives life. Better to have a solid strategy for action, rather than a plan. Plans go by the wayside easily. Strategies can be adjusted to accelerate or decelerate action based on the need. Anyone who had a strategic plan or business plan in February probably hasn’t looked at it since.

Photo of President & CEO Mark Brewer, courtesy of Central Florida Foundation.

Register for the State of Talent live virtual conference here.

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