Calling All Knoxville-Area Non-profits!

The Upward Summit is the largest ever gathering of Knoxville-area non-profits. Full program details below!

Mill and Mine

227 W Depot Ave
Knoxville, TN 37917

March 31, 2022

All Day

Keynote Speaker

Leslie Crutchfield

400 Seats Available

(Registration Closed)

About the Summit

The United Way of Greater Knoxville invites members of the non-profit community to come together for a day of conversation, connection, and action. Come share ideas, celebrate wins, and brainstorm new approaches together. The UpWard Summit is an opportunity exclusively for area non-profits – and it’s free.

Event Schedule

The day will be packed with opportunities for you to connect, learn, problem-solve, and reflect.

Morning Session

Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and you’ll have time to get coffee and interact with other attendees before being welcomed by Matt Ryerson, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Knoxville. Matt will introduce our keynote speaker, Leslie Crutchfield, who will lead us through two dynamic interactive sessions – the first geared towards strengthening the capacity of individual organizations and the second geared towards strengthening our community, together. We’ll learn how we can be strong “Forces for Good” as we unite for change that leads to next-level results.

Networking Lunch

Free lunch and free time to spend making new contacts and catching up with others.

Afternoon Session

Your afternoon is packed full of content! Learn from fellow nonprofit leaders in a variety of fun and engaging formats. Participate in real-time surveys. Meet some of the folks providing funds in our community, enjoy prize drawings, and hear about a new grant opportunity for 2022.

Unite for Change

Greater Knoxville’s nonprofit community is comprised of an exceptional group of individuals and teams dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone. On March 31st, we will discover ways to create new possibilities, together. Don’t miss it … register today!

2022 UpWard Summit Keynote Speaker

Welcoming Leslie Crutchfield!

Our 2022 speaker is Leslie Crutchfield, social change strategist, author, educator and Executive Director of Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Co-author of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits and author of How Change Happens: Why Some Movements Succeed While Others Don’t, Leslie has been recognized for developing a “blueprint for groups inspired to take action on today’s major causes.” A consummate educator and changemaker, Leslie leads the Business for Impact team at Georgetown and partners with corporate, non-profit, and government organizations committed to the triple bottom line – people, planet, and prosperity.

2022 UpSum 10 x 20

UpSum 10 x 20 is a storytelling session where you will get to engage with the experiences of fellow non-profit professionals; presenters will share their stories using 10 visuals, each in 20 seconds. United Way of Greater Knoxville is proud to present our 2022 UpSum 10 x 20 presenters.

Bekah Grace, YMCA

Bekah Grace serves as the Executive Director of the Cansler Family YMCA and the VP of Marketing for the YMCA of East Tennessee, where she leads day-to-day operations in a YMCA branch while also developing strategic methods to promote the Y’s benefits of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Bailey Foster, Real Good Kitchen

Bailey Foster is the founder of Real Good Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator. She believes in the power of food to build community, break down barriers, and make lasting change.

Christi Branscom, Department of General Services

Christi w. Branscom serves as the Commissioner of the Department of General Services (DGS) for the state of Tennessee. General Services is a support agency, which provides operational assistance to other agencies in the Tennessee State Government. As commissioner, she oversees all divisions within DGS, including the Central Procurement Office, Document Solutions, Real Estate Asset Management, and Vehicle and Asset Management.

Leslye Hartsell, Knoxville Utilities Board

Leslye Hartsell is the Director of Community Relations at the Knoxville Utilities Board. She currently serves on numerous boards, including Covenant Health, Senior Citizens Home Assistance, United Way Income & Basic Needs, Knox County Partners in Education Advisory Board. Leslye seeks to positively impact the Knoxville community through her professional and philanthropic efforts.

Special Presentation by Drums Up, Guns Down

You will get the chance to partake in a special program lead by Drums Up, Guns Down during the UpWard Summit. Drums Up, Guns Down, which was founded to stop the cycle of gun violence in our community, believes that the process of learning how to drum leads to emotional healing, provides a healthy and safe outlet for emotional and creative expression, and helps participants develop effective communication and problem-solving skills in a collaborative and communal environment.

Building Communities Together Lessons Learned in Partnership Panel

Facilitated by Dr. Javiette Samuel, the Building Communities Together panel will dive into the benefits, challenges, and intricacies of interorganizational collaboration.

About our Facilitator

Dr. Javiette Samuel, Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee

Dr. Javiette Samuel serves as associate vice chancellor, director of community engagement and affiliated associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is an experienced engaged scholar who has worked with P-20 students, families, and underrepresented communities for nearly 25 years, focusing on engagement, outreach, and evidence-based programs. Her primary applied research focus has been on child development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), positive youth development, parenting, and family well-being.

2022 Panelists

Bonnie Ortiz, Centro Hispano de East Tennessee

Bonnie Ortiz is a family support specialist who works to increase family engagement within the schools and community. She works to provide parent education, assists with mental health referrals, facilitates case management, and organizes educational family events and programs.

Kathy Mack, City of Knoxville

Kathy Mack serves as the Community Engagement Manager for the City of Knoxville. A fierce advocate for young people, she leads the Empower Knox Initiative, which aims to help Knoxville’s youth by providing uncommon opportunities. This involves partnering with and supporting a variety of youth-serving organizations, leading the Mayor’s Youth Council, and directing the Summer in the City Internship.

Daniel Watson, The Restoration House

Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Restoration House, Daniel Watson has worked to provide transitional housing for single mothers in the Knoxville area. He has been recognized as one of Knoxville’s Top 40 Under 40 business and Community Leaders, is an alumni of Introduction Knoxville and Leadership Knoxville, and University of Tennessee’s Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness. He currently serves on the Knox County School Board where he is focused on making the local education system more equitable for all students and families.

The UpWard Summit Grant

Knoxville-area non-profits will get the chance to hear about an exciting new grant opportunity during the 2022 summit.


Who is the summit for?

The Summit is an exclusive event for members of the non-profit community in Knoxville and the surrounding region.

How do I register?

Click the registration button at the top of this page and secure your spot through Eventbrite.

Where will I park? 

The UpWard Summit will be held at the Mill and Mine in the Old City. Click here for a map of available parking.

How much does registration cost?

The UpWard Summit is a free event – there’s no charge for registration!

What is the Covid Protocol for the event?

Although this event will not require masks, we encourage best personal mask wearing practice based on your individual exposure risk.

In order to protect those in attendance, we kindly ask that if you are experiencing Covid 19 symptoms to obtain a negative Covid test prior to the event or join us for another event at a later date.

Who can I contact with questions about the UpWard Summit?

Please contact Anna Moseley at