5 Things to Look Forward to at MCON 2015

This is a guest post by Derrick Feldmann, who is the founder of MCON—the nation’s premier conference on Millennials and causes. He leads the research efforts for The Millennial Impact Project and serves as president of Achieve, a research and creative agency for causes.


It’s hard to believe we’re less than a week away from MCON 2015.

Of course, I’m pretty biased, but this is already shaping up to be the best MCON we’ve ever produced. People from across the country will gather at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago to experience MCON in person and over 20,000 people will stream the event online.

The theme of MCON 2015 is “The Power of Influence: Art, Media, Business and Place” and an incredible lineup of speakers from the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors will share stories of the successes and failures they’ve encountered while changing the world.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited for MCON this year, but here are my top five:

1. Some of the Most Successful Social Entrepreneurs in the Country

Over the past few years, MCON has seen some incredible speakers, and the lineup for MCON 2015 is nothing short of inspiring. Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND Snacks, will share the story of how KIND became the fastest-growing snack company in the country—a can’t-miss for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship and combining business with social good.

We’ll also hear from Jonathan Neman, founder and co-CEO of sweetgreen, a culinary lifestyle brand dedicated to smartly sourced food and the balance between work, life, food and community.

I’m also excited to hear from Anna Palmer. Anna is the co-founder, CEO and idea generator behind Fashion Project, a powerful movement turning closets into cash for charities around the world. Since its founding, Fashion Project has expanded to serve over 500 nonprofits, helping provide valuable funding for disease research, humanitarian aid, sustainability initiatives and disaster relief.

2. Leaders Who are Transforming the Media Industry

Media is one of the content industries we’re specifically highlighting this year, and these individuals truly represent “the power of influence.” National Geographic CEO Gary Knell will bring decades of media experience to the stage where he’ll discuss the future of National Geographic and how similar publications can shape education.

The Media section features Jessica Prois, executive editor of Huffington Post Impact and Good News, and Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy. To date, the Upworthy community has dedicated nearly 2 billion minutes of attention to important stories for a better world, ranging from the criminal justice system to advertising’s effects on body image to clean energy.

Tom Davidson of PBS, Reena Ninan from ABC News and The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Cody Switzer are all-star media contributors and will serve as moderators for MCON. They’re facilitating Q&A sessions and panels, including the media panel with Matt Higginson from Medium and Sarah Harris from Incite.

3. In-Person Learning Labs

We purposely hold MCON in a room that only holds 300 people, so we’ve created an intimate, hands-on experience for those attending the event in person. Most MCON speakers stay for the entire event and participate in the sessions, activities and parties, even after they’re done speaking.

Learning Labs are a chance for individuals attending MCON 2015 in-person at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago discuss ideas and get practical advice from experts across many industries. In each of these five Learning Labs, participants will gather for an interactive time of teaching and discussion

MiiR CEO and Founder Bryan Papé established an outdoor lifestyle brand designed to empower people to rise above poverty through every product sold. Brady Josephson of Chimp will also lead one of the learning labs. Brady created Charity Express, a digital agency for charities. He’ll be leading a discussion on nonprofit technology and peer fundraising.

4. Moving Documentaries for the Online Audience

While the in-person audience is at lunch, online participants can watch a series of powerful films and videos. The Art Assignment is a weekly video series produced by PBS Digital Studios, hosted by curator Sarah Urist Green and author/vlogger John Green. The Art Assignment takes viewers and participants around the U.S. to meet artists and solicit assignments from them that everyone can participate in.

Another film, Body Team 12, features workers who have one of the most dangerous and gruesome jobs in the world: collecting the dead from the streets of the Ebola zone. Told through the eyes of a local woman, this film explores the philosophy of Time magazine’s persons of the year: The Ebola workers of West Africa.

5. The Latest Research on Millennials and Social Good

Premium Ticket holders will get an advanced copy of the 2015 Millennial Impact Report before it goes live the morning of MCON, June 24 at 10.

The Millennial Impact Report is the foundation of MCON and each year it provides the most relevant information to companies and organizations seeking to engage the next generation of volunteers, donors, employees and advocates. This year, the study focuses the relationships and experiences between Millennial employees and their managers. How do managers influence participation in company cause work? What else inspires participation? Check in with the Millennial Impact website for past reports.

O.A.R. frontman Marc Roberge will close out MCON with an inspiring presentation on music as a tool for social impact. More than 30 fascinating speakers and some surprises set up to make MCON 2015 the premier conference of the summer.

Join us at MCON 2015 next week and discover the power of influence. There are two ways to experience this year’s event: Attend in person at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, or stream the event live online. Either way, you’ll be sure to be inspired.


Derrick Feldmann

June 17, 2015

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