Each year, The Greenlining Insitute’s Economic Summit brings together thought leaders at the forefront of the fight for justice and equity. Our 27th annual Economic Summit, We the Future, moved completely online May 21, becoming our first-ever virtual Summit on race equity. While we missed meeting everyone in person, online attendance set a record of more than 1,600 participants from all over the U.S. for an exhilarating, energizing day of ideas and inspiration, punctuated by lively musical breaks provided by DJ Ome. 

A Welcome Message from Greenlining's President & CEO Debra Gore-Mann

The Greenlining Institute's President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann this year's virtual Economic Summit by thanking the millions of essential workers who stock grocery shelves, care for the elderly, and so much more. As inspiration for the day, she pointed to the sacrifices made by Greenlining’s founders and the words of beloved activist Grace Lee Boggs, who called on us all “to embrace the power within each of us to create the world anew.” 

LATEEFAH SIMON Video Highlights

An opening conversation with Lateefah Simon of the Akonadi Foundation and world-renowned author and professor john a. powell grounded the day's events in truth and inspiration. Simon and powell discussed the COVID-19 crisis and its implications for our communities. Together, they explored what history can teach us about times of crisis, and how we can learn from powerful movements in our nation’s history in order to move forward. Drawing on powell’s lens of othering and belonging, this Fireside Chat highlighted where we can find hope and resilience in the face of the unknown.


  • Lateefah Simon, President, Akonadi Foundation and Board President, Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • john a. powell, Director, Othering and Belonging Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Opening Plenary Video Highlights


With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating issues faced by people of color, our communities are moving quickly to organize and address the needs of those most impacted. From advocating for undocumented communities and those facing incarceration to the rise in racism toward the AAPI communities and the need to build power and mobilize for the 2020 elections and beyond, our opening plenary explored how power-building and voter engagement strategies need to adapt and what solidarity can look like in this unprecedented time. Moderated by Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab.

A Conversation with Chesa Boudin, District Attorney for City and County of San Francisco
A Conversation with EunSook Lee, Director of AAPI Civic Engagement Fund
A Conversation with Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of Latino Community Foundation
A Conversation with Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer of The Obama Foundation

Video Highlights

New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi sat down for a Fireside chat with Insight Center for Community of Economic Development's President Anne Price. Kendi’s concept of antiracism and antiracist policy has reshaped the conversation about racial justice in America. As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes policy changes at an unprecedented pace and lays bare the stark racial inequities that exist in our country, Price and Kendi explore what an antiracist society might look like and how advocates can play an active role in building it.


  • Ibram X Kendi, Author, How to Be an Antiracist and Director, The Antiracist Research and Policy Center, American University
  • Anne Price, President, Insight Center for Community Economic Development


Our virtual Economic Summit on race equity featured two rounds of in-depth panel discussion. The first set of panel  breakouts focused on the immediate economic and health impacts of COVID-19 and where to bolster current efforts to ensure communities of color are prioritized in the recovery. Our second set of panel breakouts explored ways to bolster resilience within ourselves and our communities as advocates move through this crisis and focus on what is needed for long-term transformation.

Prioritizing Racial Equity and Justice in California’s Health Policy Agenda

COVID-19 has exacerbated poor health outcomes for California’s low-income communities of color. Protecting and centering the needs of the most vulnerable will be critical to mitigating the health and economic consequences of the pandemic. During this discussion we will 1) learn how the legislature is integrating health and racial equity in California’s budget and policy response, and 2) discuss how direct advocacy on the timely public health intersections of immigration and decarceration issues have critical health impacts for low-income communities of color.

Moderated by Kelsey Lyles, Health Equity Policy Lead, The Greenlining Institute


  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta, California’s 18th District
  • Phoebe Abramowitz, Northern California Organizer, Health Access
  • Dominique Nong, Senior Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund-California

What’s Next for Small Business?

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extreme vulnerability of small businesses in our economy. Yet with this crisis comes an opportunity to dream bigger and explore how recovery efforts can support small businesses in equitable and radically different ways. In this session, panelists will discuss how small businesses of color have been impacted by this crisis and how we can use this time of rapid change to reimagine an economy that better supports our communities.

Moderated by Mercedes Gibson, Economic Equity Strategist, City of Oakland & The Greenlining Institute


  • Sabrina Wu, Senior Fellow, Equitable Economic Development, East Bay Community Foundation
  • Jennifer DaSilva, Executive Director, Start Small, Think Big
  • Vinny Eng, Community Organizer, SF New Deal

Turning the Corner: Government Recovery Programs and their Impact on Communities of Color

More than $2 trillion have been committed to helping American families and businesses begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This panel explored the impact of existing federal and state efforts on communities of color, and what our communities need from the next large scale COVID-19 recovery legislation.

Moderated by Adam Briones, Economic Equity Director, The Greenlining Institute, and De’Zhon Grace, Economic Equity Fellow, The Greenlining Institute


  • Eileen Fitzgerald, Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy, Wells Fargo
  • Sonja Diaz, Founding Executive Director, UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative
  • Joyce Pisnanont, Director of Economic Empowerment, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

Disruptive Advocates: Youth at the forefront of Social Change

With school closures and a dim financial outlook for those entering the job market, the COVID-19 crisis has presented unique challenges to young adults. Despite this, young organizers and activists continue to lead with creativity and resilience, using this moment to radically reimagine our future and drastically shift our present. This session will highlight young leaders who are playing a pivotal role in climate activism, creating economic mobility opportunities for youth, and advocacy for immigration and decarceration.

Moderated by Jamileh Ebrahimi, Director of Programs and Organizing, RYSE Center


  • Amadeos Oyagata, Program Assistant, MyPath
  • Isha Clarke, Member, Youth v. Apocalypse
  • Juan Prieto, Communications Strategist, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

Building Resilience at the Intersection of
COVID-19 and Climate Change

In the face of climate change and COVID-19, we’re seeing striking similarities in how pandemics and climate disasters hit low-income communities and communities of color the hardest, both during the immediate impacts and the subsequent economic fallout. As California begins to recover from COVID-19 and while simultaneously preparing for climate threats, advocates must work with decision-makers to develop innovative and intersectional solutions that address the socioeconomic, health and environmental impacts that frontline communities will face from both crises. This breakout session explored the intersection of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, and the challenges and opportunities they present to build resilience in frontline communities.

Moderated by Sona Mohnot, Senior Environmental Equity Program Manager, and Parwana Ayub, Environmental Equity Fellow, The Greenlining Institute


  • Corrine Van Hook-Turner, Director of Climate Innovation, The Movement Strategy Center
  • Rita Kampalath, Ph.D., P.E., Sustainability Programs Director, County of Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Office
  • Darryl Sarmiento, Executive Director, Communities for a Better Environment

Resilience in the Apocalypse: When the End Is a New Beginning

In this session, large-scale change expert Becky Margiotta and apocalypse expert and race, diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer and coach Susan X Jane guided attendees through a series of experiential exercises designed to strengthen one's resilience, develop a vision for an equitable future and clarify one's intentions going forward. This session provided attendees with tools to help them contribute to this new beginning within themselves, communities, and institutions.


  • Becky Margiotta, Principal and Owner, The Billions Institute, LLC
  • Susan X Jane, Principle, Navigators Consulting

Closing Plenary Video Highlight


With politicians and institutions responding to the economic crisis generated by COVID-19, the recovery process offers an important moment to rethink and reimagine our political and economic system. Our closing plenary discussed how an equity-centered response to this crisis can not only help us recover, but create a stronger and more resilient planet and people.

Moderated by Alvaro Sanchez, Environmental Equity Director, The Greenlining Institute


  • Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California
  • Rhiana Gunn Wright, Director of Climate Policy, The Roosevelt Institute
  • Solana Rice, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Liberation in a Generation