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Pre-conference: Farming toward a just future & Three essentials of maximizing your mission


Jason Adkins

While working with homeless and addicted men on Skid Row, Los Angeles, Jason Adkins grew passionate about farming as a healing practice and therapeutic setting for men in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  After completing his B.A. in English and Religion at Trevecca Nazarene University, Jason studied Christian communities in Europe as a model for life with the poor. Jason started a farm for men in recovery from addiction--teaching discipleship and farming together.  After this, Jason worked with fatherless boys on a teaching farm in Joelton, TN. Jason then moved to South Nashville with family and friends at the invitation of some neighbors in Chestnut Hill. The same year, 2009, the Center for Social Justice was inaugurated at Trevecca Nazarene University. Jason was invited to teach the environmental justice classes and bring students alongside his work with neighbors to build gardens in schools and empty lots. This work was aimed at reconnecting people with their land and all its creatures, reconnecting people with food that brought health to their bodies, reconnecting neighbors to one another, and bringing joy. In 2011, Jason worked with students and faculty to start a farm on Trevecca’s campus. Jason and his students have shared growing techniques with farmers in the Philippines, Swaziland, Senegal, and around the United States.  He received his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2012 and has taught in four PDC courses since then. Jason is the current president of the Tennessee Organic Growers Association. Jason has a wife named Stephani and five children. Jason enjoys reading and biking to work. 

 Iris Gordon

Iris Gordon is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to strategically structure, develop and leverage their unique abilities to address social justice issues.  She values and facilitates the transformative synergy that occurs when diverse individuals and organizations engage in community collaboration.  Iris leads the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice’s Neighborhood Empowerment Program and the Social Business Laboratory.  Both programs are equipping individuals and organizations with strategies and tools that simultaneously maximize capacity, assess and safeguard mission impact, and establish sustainability.  The Neighborhood Empowerment Program provides consulting services, workshops and need based training while the Social Business laboratory utilizes student integration and community professionals for projects that leverage the intrinsic power of the marketplace to create systemic responses to social and economic injustice.  Iris’s passion, education and experience provide a thorough perspective that has proven effective in developing high performing organizations.  Her experience in organizational development, operational leadership and law span cross sectors from fortune 25 companies to grass roots organizations.  

Abby Buter

Abby Buter lives in Nashville, TN although she is never hesitant to remind people of her Michigan roots. She is a Trevecca graduate and holds a Master’s degree in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University. Abby is the Owner and Founder of Abby Buter Coaching, an organization that exists to help individuals and organizations know who they are so that they thrive and live into who they were created to be. Because of her own experience in the nonprofit world, she is especially passionate about helping organizations know how to cultivate healthy cultures where self-care is prioritized. When she's not coaching you can probably find her with her nose in a book, talking about the Enneagram, traveling to see her nieces and nephews or out and about enjoying all that Nashville has to offer.

Brenda Gadd

Brenda has more than 15 years of experience in Tennessee politics and governmental affairs ranging from chief of staff and research analyst in the Tennessee senate to serving as legislative liaison in Governor Bredesen’s administration.  As vice president of CivicPoint – serving a range of non-profit and business clients in executive & legislative advocacy – she secured regulatory changes as well as a $15 million budget item for non-profit clients. Prior to working with clients in her own firm, H&G Public Strategies, she served as the public policy coordinator at the Tennessee Bar Association representing the association before the General Assembly and other policy making bodies.

Farming toward a just future

Friday, March 16 Pre-conference: "Farming toward a just future"
9-10:15 a.m. Meet one another and Introduction to “Farming toward a just future”
  Good farming can restore the ecological, economic, and physical health of communities everywhere. This is especially true for vulnerable communities who face hunger, poverty, war, economic exploitation, natural disasters, and displacement. In this time, we will look at the issues communities everywhere are facing as a result of destructive farming, land use, and food system practices. How can biblical models of stewardship speak into the challenges of our cultural moment? We will introduce the concepts of agro-ecology, environmental justice, and agrarianism.
10:15 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m. Trevecca Urban Farm Tour
  You will see how we are caring for goats, pigs, chickens, bees, tilapia (aquaponics), worms, fruit trees, gardens and a greenhouse on our campus farm. 
12 p.m. Lunch
1 p.m. Gardening 101
  Crash course in gardening.  We will build a garden and talk about how to care for it. 
2:15 p.m. Replenish the earth
  We will look to inspiring models of agriculture and land care that restore the health of communities.  We will explore what it looks like for communities to preserve and restore the health of their land.

Three essentials of maximizing your mission

Seeking justice is the noble objective of many organizations. Accomplishing and sustaining success demands an intricate tapestry of art and science. Culture, alignment, and advocacy are essential power tools that equip an organization to build the infrastructure necessary to maximize mission and sustain impact. Join us to sharpen your power tools!    

Friday, March 16 Pre-conference: Three essentials of maximizing your mission  
9 - 10:50 a.m. Welcome & How your organizational culture impacts mission! Iris Gordon & Abby Butler
  “Culture trumps strategy” has long been understood by some but too often nonprofit organizations only focus on their outputs and neglect the internal workings of their organization. Culture is a vital part of the DNA of an organization.  It is either a powerful ally or a significant barrier to accomplishing goals and maximizing mission.  The good fruit you help cultivate in your community should also be cultivated inside your non-profit. Just like how they say fish don’t know they’re in water, we don’t always have an accurate read of the culture we’re creating within our organizations. Building off research done across industries, Abby will walk attendees through the intentional practice of understanding your organization’s culture.  Participants will leave with an understanding of what creates a healthy organizational culture and what they can do to begin cultivating that within your own setting.  
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Alignment is essential to maximize mission! Iris Gordon
  Organizations seeking justice are forced to meet ever-increasing demands to do more with less! Organizational alignment facilitates the effective and efficient use of resources to accomplish goals. Alignment of an organization’s mission, method, message and money are crucial to maximize performance and ensure sustainability!  This workshop defines the relationship between these organizational components.  The workshop provides tools to assess current alignment and explores various approaches to improving alignment.  Organizations are complex dynamic systems with interconnected components that are constantly interacting with an ever-changing environment.  Alignment of key components empowers an organization to optimize impact while staying true to vision and values.  
12:30 - 1:45 p.m. Lunch  
1:45 - 3:15 p.m. The role of advocacy in Seeking Justice! Brenda Gadd
  Participants will learn what advocacy means for nonprofits, the legal requirements for this type of work, and the differences between advocacy on the city, state, and federal levels. Get started with a clear understanding of what advocacy is and isn't!