Make the most of 2020 Excelerator by participating in these networking sessions! All activities are included in your registration.

The Art of Tasting Chocolate 

Thursday, Oct. 22 from 1:15-2:15 p.m. CT
Thank you to FEI Workforce Resilience for sponsoring this session.

To participate, opt-in during the registration process and let us know where to ship your box of artisan chocolates by Oct. 9.

Join us for this educational, entertaining, and delicious event led by Chef Nicole Patel, owner and founder of Delysia Chocolatier, recently named one of 2020's Best Chocolatier in the Americas by The International Chocolate Salon. Learn a simple, but systematic approach to unlocking the aromas and complex flavors of handcrafted chocolate. With a few tips and tricks, learn to taste chocolate like the experts—by slowing down and savoring your chocolate confections.

Delysia Chocolatier’s products are handmade using fine quality, sustainable chocolate and only the freshest ingredients so you can enjoy chocolate near perfection. Delysia is the first chocolatier in Texas, and one of a very few in the U.S., to have a complete product line using ethically sourced cacao.

Your chocolates will arrive up to a week before this event via FedEx. Keep them in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before the events so they can come up to room temperature for optimal enjoyment. A glass of water and some roasted coffee beans are excellent to have during the tasting as well. This virtual experience will be recorded for Delysia’s marketing, recordkeeping, and training purposes. By participating in this event, you are providing consent to be recorded. 

Chef Nicole Patel

Award-winning Chocolatier
Delysia Chocolatier

Nicole Patel is owner and chocolatier of Delysia Chocolatier. In 2006, while pregnant with her first son, she made a batch of homemade chocolate truffles as last-minute holiday gifts. Much to the delight of friends and family, she continued to create chocolate treats to relieve stress from her corporate engineering job and launched Delysia Chocolatier in 2008.

Patel graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s and master’s in industrial engineering, with a focus on statistics and quality control. As a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Nicole ran the corporate Six Sigma program worldwide for an Austin-based technology company for six years. She continued her engineering career as a Director of Quality for a small engineering firm until the fall of 2016 when she transitioned to running Delysia Chocolatier full time.

Coffee Hour: Family First Act

Thursday, Oct. 22 from 10-11 a.m. CT
Thank you to Public Consulting Group for sponsoring this session.

Join us for an informal discussion about implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act. As October 2021, the final implementation deadline for states, nears, this will be a great opportunity to check in with one another. We’ll learn from each other about innovative approaches including how states are using Family First Transition Act dollars to support changes to their child welfare systems. This session will include breakout groups by topic area, so that participants can learn and share with one another. Participants from around the country will share their planning processes, practice implications, and policy changes. They will also talk about data being collected that will inform changes. Bring your coffee and breakfast or a snack and join us for this important discussion!

Speakers include:

  • David Kelly, special assistant, U.S. Children’s Bureau 
  • Heather Baker, manager, Public Consulting Group
  • Lisette Burton, chief policy and practice advisor, ACRC
  • Jessica Brown, executive advisor and Family First Act Lead, Kentucky Department of Community Based Services
  • Paula Garner, CEO, Maryhurst

Coffee Hour: Education Policy

Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 10-11 a.m. CT

Join us for an informal discussion over coffee about education policy and what’s to come at the federal level in the year ahead. We will be joined by special guest, Danica Petroshius, principal at the Penn Hill Group. She brings more than 20 years of experience in public policy, advocacy, and strategic consulting. Petroshius focuses on a wide array of policy issues including early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education, workforce development. She previously served in the office of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy for 10 years, including two years as his chief of staff. She is the former deputy staff director on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where she coordinated policy, hearings, and managed budget and appropriations strategies. She also played key roles in reauthorizations of major federal education laws including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. During this coffee hour, Petroshius will forecast some trends in federal education policy and there will be plenty of time for discussion and questions. Bring your coffee and breakfast or a snack and join us!

For an update on all things policy, make sure to attend the Post-Election Town Hall Nov. 17 from Noon-1:30 p.m. CT, the first day of the Closing Ceremony.

Raise More Money by Finding Focus amid the Storm

Tuesday, Oct. 27 from Noon-1 p.m. CT

Complete your fund development plan for late 2020-2022 now! Len Iaquinta of Excellence in Communication and Barb Armstrong, director of development at the Alliance, will dissect a checklist for rising above COVID-19 analysis-paralysis. Then a panel of professionals from the Alliance network will discuss their recent successes in marketing and fundraising. Participants will be encouraged to share their solutions and ample time will be reserved for Q&A with the panel.  

Thank you to Charityproud for sponsoring this session. 

Solving Organizational and Professional Development Challenges in the Future of Work

Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10-11 a.m.

Join us for a discussion on solutions for three key development challenges in the future of work:

  • Organizational development
  • Supervisor/manager development
  • Personal professional development

A leader in accessible and effective learning for working professionals, Bellevue University provides rich and relevant knowledge and skills needed to keep up with changes we all are facing today. With Real Learning for Real Life, you and your organization are prepared to succeed regardless of how the world changes, your job changes, or you change. Bellevue University has been an Alliance partner for 15 years and understands the workforce education needs of community-based organizations and their teams.

The 2Gen Approach: Paving the Way Forward to Economic Mobility 

Tuesday, Nov 10 from 1-2 p.m. CT

Breaking the cycle of poverty for the growing number of children being born to single mothers must be done intentionally and strategically, with the support of community through a 2Gen approach. It also means disrupting inequitable systems through a social justice lens. Chastity Lord, president and CEO of the Jeremiah Program, will share how they help families find stability through a combination of quality early childhood education, a safe and affordable place to live, and empowerment and life skills training.

Coffee Hour: An Introduction to COA Accreditation

Thursday, Nov. 12 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT

Join the Council on Accreditation (COA) for an introduction to our accreditation process. This session is perfect for anyone seeking accreditation for the first time, interested in what is required to become accredited, or mandated to become accredited by state or federal legislation (such as the Family First Prevention Services Act). Participants will gain an understanding of the key concepts that define COA, the steps to become accredited, and the benefits of accreditation. There will also be a Q&A portion to answer any questions you might have about COA accreditation.

Women of Color Leaders Present: When the Glass Ceiling turns to Concrete

Friday, Nov. 13 from 1-2:30 pm CT

Women of color in leadership roles continue to face racial bias and systemic inequities as they look to advance in the sector. Despite many women of color entering the sector workforce over the years, gains have been received in reaching senior leadership roles. Despite women of color achieving higher levels of education, training, and achievement that their counterparts in the sector, they often fill lower-paying administrative roles. So, what will it take to change this equation? Join women of color leaders for a panel-style frank-discussion that will explore the issue of concrete ceilings and examine other challenges and barriers that women of color face in the sector.

Moderator: Phyllis Richards, director of evaluation and research services, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities 


  • LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, associate vice president of strategy & organizational excellence, privacy officer, Lutheran Child and Family Services 
  • Tsega Tamene, senior director of population health, Pillsbury United Communities 
  • Dawn Selle, director of external affairs & development, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center

We are here to help you.

Contact our Excelerator support team via email or by calling 800-221-3726, option 3 or 414-359-6578. Our hours of operation are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. CT.