Digital Conversations: Hard Truths: Privilege and Belonging in the Social Impact World

Tuesday, August 11, 1-2pm EDT

How privileged is the social impact world? What perspectives is the social impact sector excluding? How could a more meaningfully inclusive and representative sector be built?

Global Black Lives Matter protests have called us all to reflect on how we benefit from and contribute  to inequitable systems. The social impact world, for all its positive intentions to build a more just, sustainable, and equitable world, equally needs to take a hard look in the mirror—at privilege, racism, the unconscious biases we carry. We need to address a lack of diversity and inclusion among the social impact workforce, review power dynamics, and rebuild a sector that supports a more equitable recovery.

Join us as we explore. How can we #BuildBackBetter by facing and acting on hard truths about privilege and belonging in the social impact world?


Panthea Lee- Co-Founder and Executive Director, Reboot

Panthea is passionate about facilitating unlikely but effective collaborations between communities, activists, movements, and institutions to tackle structural inequity. She is a pioneer in designing and guiding multi-stakeholder processes to address complex social challenges, with experience doing so with partners including UNDP, World Bank, Open Government Partnership, CIVICUS, Luminate, Ford Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation. Her practice blends her backgrounds as an ethnographer, organizer, designer, and facilitator. The global co-design processes she’s led have resulted in the launch of bold new efforts to protect human rights defenders, tackle public sector corruption, strengthen participatory democracy, and advance equity in the open knowledge movement. 

Her contributions to the field of social design have been recognized by Fast Company, Core77, and others. Her work has been featured by Al Jazeera, Aspen Institute, The Atlantic, New York Times, MIT Innovations Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review. She has served on the faculty of PopTech Social Innovation and Singularity University, and has lectured at Columbia, Harvard, and New York Universities. Panthea mentors several social entrepreneurs; advises the OECD Network on Innovation Citizen Participation and Greenpeace; and serves on the boards of AIGA Design for Democracy, Development Gateway, and People Powered: The Global Hub for Participatory Democracy.

Jess Tomlin – Co-CEO Equality Fund

Jess is the Co-CEO of the Equality Fund (formerly the President and CEO of The MATCH International Women’s Fund). Emphasizing the role of innovation in social movements, Jess leads an effort to resource women’s organizations around the world working to change systems and dismantle barriers. Jess has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia for a range of actors including the World Bank, the UN and USAID. Prior to her appointment at The MATCH Fund and the Equality Fund, Jess was with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), managing large-scale reform for the Agency that supports Palestinian Refugees across the Middle East. Jess was named by the Stevie Awards as 2017’s Most Innovative Woman of the Year.

Dr. Rachel Zellars

Rachel Zellars is a lawyer and professor in the Department of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. For the last three decades, Dr. Zellars has committed herself to community service, as well as organizing work that supports the safety, wholeness, and well-being of Black women.  In 2013, she co-founded the Third Eye Collective, a survivor-based collective committed to the study and practice of transformative justice responses to violence against Black women. She is also a co-founder of the African Nova Scotian Freedom School. She is a committed abolitionist, student of somatics and yoga, and humble life-long learner. She is passionate about the lives and wellness of Black children, as well as Black study, Black resistance, and Black liberation. 

Waubgeshig Rice 

Waub is an author and journalist from Wasauksing First Nation on Georgian Bay. He has written three fiction titles, and his short stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies. His most recent novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was published in 2018 and became a national bestseller.

Waub got his first taste of journalism in 1996 as an exchange student in Germany, writing articles about being an Anishinaabe teen in a foreign country for newspapers back in Canada. He graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002. He’s worked in a variety of news media since, reporting for CBC News for the bulk of his career. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling. His most recently role was host of Up North, CBC Radio’s afternoon show for northern Ontario. He left CBC in May 2020 to focus on his literary career. His proudest roles are as dad to Jiikwis and Ayaabehns and husband to Sarah. The family splits its time between Sudbury and Wasauksing.

We thank our launch partners United Way Centraide Canada and Community Foundations of Canada that have made this event possible.