Opening Keynote
The Clarion Call for Social Sector Leaders to Advance Humanity

Michael McAfee
President
PolicyLink

Founded in 1999, PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works®. PolicyLink is guided by the belief that the solutions to the nation’s challenges lie with those closest to these challenges: When the voice, wisdom, and experience of those traditionally absent from policymaking drive the process, profound policy transformations can emerge.

In this keynote address, PolicyLink President Michael McAfee will share his leadership journey and what he’s discovering are essential skills for leaders dedicated to advancing equity—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. He’ll inspire you to step into your power, embrace radical imagination, and unleash your gifts so that our world is better for you having been in it.

About the Keynote

Headshot of keynote Michael McafeeAs president of PolicyLink, Michael McAfee oversees strategy development, the alignment of PolicyLink assets, and the achievement of policy wins that ensure all people in America have economic security, live in healthy communities of opportunity, and benefit from a just society.

He came to PolicyLink in 2011 as the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. Under his leadership, PolicyLink emerged as a national leader in building cradle-to-career systems that ensure children and youth in our nation’s most distressed communities have a pathway into the middle class. His partnerships with local leaders in more than 60 communities contributed to significant improvements in the educational and developmental outcomes for more than 300,000 children and helped attract public and private investments that exceed $1 billion. Because of the focus on results, Promise Neighborhoods became a permanent federal program through the 2015 authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

McAffe is also the catalyst for the creation of the Corporate Racial Equity Advantage, the first comprehensive tool to guide private sector companies in assessing and actively promoting equity in every aspect of their business operations and strategy.

Before joining PolicyLink, McAffe served as senior community planning and development representative in the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While at HUD, he managed a $450 million housing, community, and economic development portfolio, where he partnered with local leaders to create more than 3,000 units of affordable housing and 5,000 jobs and ensure access to social services for more than 200,000 families. He also served as the lead instructor with HUD’s Leadership Development Program. He is most proud of personally ensuring the successful matriculation of more than 168 senior executives through the Leadership Development Program and providing fundraising, leadership, management, and organizational development technical assistance to more than 1,000 persons and 800 grassroots faith- and community-based organizations. His partnership with the White House and HUD's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has resulted in nonprofit organizations accessing more than $1 billion in federal resources.

While serving as director of community leadership for The Greater Kansas City Foundation and Affiliated Trusts, he was instrumental in helping build the organization’s capacity to raise $121 million from individual donors. This accomplishment earned the foundation the honor of being recognized by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as receiving more contributions than any community foundation in America. His vocation is to achieve equity in America—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. He serves on the boards of Bridge Housing, Independent Sector, North Lawndale Employment Network, One Degree, and Sweet Beginnings LLC. He served in the U.S. Army, completed Harvard University's Executive Program in Public Management, and earned a doctorate in education - human and organizational learning from George Washington University. He is an avid off-road hiker and practitioner of Bikram yoga.