When you pick an event theme that has messaging attached to it versus being a platform for décor, you can really tie together the mission of your organization and increase your sphere of support.
This year at their Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner, Urban League of Portland utilized the theme of “Economic Empowerment” to tie together their speakers and program messaging. In doing so, were able to highlight their crucial work to ensure that African Americans and other Oregonians have access to economic prosperity through training, job placement, advocacy for livable wage jobs, healthy communities and education.
This theme increased their support from businesses wanting to be at the table.
Urban League’s board chair Michael Montgomery is Vice President and Oregon Manager of Community Affairs and Development at U.S. Bank. From the stage he called out the other financial institutions in the room stating, “We understand that without economic stability, individuals cannot thrive. We stand together tonight in support of the Urban League of Portland.”
By having someone connected to both Urban League and the economic sector, the program showed the productive relationship between the two and was able to bring them all to the table.
Tracy Curtis, Oregon & Southwest Washington Region President at Wells Fargo and Patrick Quinton, the Executive Director at the Portland Development Commission introduced the night’s keynote speaker. Again, each exemplified the partnership between the economic and development sectors and how they connect to the work of Urban League.
Tracy opened with, “That’s why we are proud to support the Urban League of Portland. Our city is stronger when we partner together for the good of all people. As Portland grows, we want to make sure there are stable jobs, affordable housing and opportunities for all our residents. Our entire city should benefit from the strengths and contributions of the vibrant African American community. And together we can work to make that happen!”
The evening’s keynote, Johnathan M. Holifield, is the co-founder of ScaleUp Partners, the nation’s leading team of practitioners and advocates of Inclusive Competitiveness—a vision, a policy and a strategic process to increase regional economic competitiveness through inclusion and empowerment of underrepresented populations. As an economic development thought leader, he is elevating the voice of the underrepresented business owner.
Introductions, speakers and content all worked in tandem throughout the program to push forward the idea that economic empowerment is possible when we work together as a community.
By choosing a theme to highlight an aspect of your work—in this case, economic empowerment—and selecting your speakers and scripting them to the point of the theme, you create cohesion in your program and highlight the resonance of your work. In essence, you have multiple points of view and voices all supporting your vision and you enable your sponsors and supporters to add their voice as a champion of your work.
Photos by Antonio Harris