CalNonprofits Articles

Who is Vu Le and why you want to hear what he has to say 

Introducing one of two keynote speakers at CalNonprofits 2018 Policy Convention in October: Vu Le.

If you don’t already know him, we’re confident in predicting that he will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, and will definitely give you something to think about long after the convention is over. His keynote will round out a day of conversations about nonprofits and policy in the new political and social reality.

Vu is the irreverent editor of, chronicling the frustrations, challenges, and victories we’ve all faced working in the nonprofit sector. He's also the co-author of Unicorns Unite! How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build Epic Partnerships. Vu will bring his straight talk style, candor, and humorous approach on serious subjects to our Convention on October 18th in Los Angeles.

Vu serves as the executive director of the Rainier Valley Corps in Seattle, Washington, focusing on cultivating the next generation of nonprofit leaders of color. So when he talks about the ups and downs of nonprofit life, you know he’s speaking from experience.

Registration Reminder: early bird registration for the convention ends on August 15: register today so you don’t miss out!

2 things to know about Vu Le before you meet him

1. He uses great analogies to explain nonprofit challenges. His story of the “Dusty Apron, Gluten Free Bakery” trying to bake a cake for 5 customers is the perfect way to explain overhead to your private sector friends: “A customer comes in, wants a gluten free cake, and we tell them we specialize in this. We tell the customer it will cost about $100. But the customer said they can only give us $20, because they never pay for the full cake..." See Vu tell the rest of this "frankenstein funding" story here.

2. He coined the term “Trickle-Down Community Engagement.” In this 2016 speech to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Vu explains that nonprofits led by people of color and serving communities of color are frequently asked by philanthropy and larger, pre-dominantly white nonprofits to help with “community engagement” in a way that is disrespectful and unhelpful. He explains new ways for philanthropy and other nonprofits to think about and approach engagement in a more meaningful way.

And stay tuned for an introduction to our second keynote speaker, Tamika Butler! 

PS: Interested in being a sponsor? We have sponsorships available at every level, including one Presenting Sponsor. Click here to see our sponsorship packages and please contact Dishauna Castro with any questions.

Add comment

Security code

get connected module titleSign up to receive our emails on member benefits, events & webinars, tips & tools, and legislation & policies that affect nonprofits.
go to Facebook page for CalNonprofits     go to Twitter page for CalNonprofits     go to LinkedIn page for CalNonprofits
Become a member
Join us at CalNonprofits. Strengthen the voice of nonprofits in California and receive benefits and cost savings on a range of programs and services.