about pfe


The Partnership for Excellence (PFE) conference, founded and sponsored by The Foundation Roundtable, brings leaders from across Santa Barbara County’s philanthropic sector together to build relationships and explore ideas, strategies, and skills that enhance organizations, our work, and communities. Annual themes highlight relevant community issues and opportunities for shared learning and connection across the region.

Founding members of The Foundation Roundtable established the PFE conference to advance relationship-building and mutual understanding in the local social sector by convening with nonprofit organizations and grantees. Early conferences gathered primarily executive and development directors, and board members with keynote speakers, grant-maker panels, and fund development workshops.

From 1993- 2017, the Partnership for Excellence convened at the Fess Parker Hotel (now Hilton Resort) in south county, Santa Barbara. In 2019 PFE was hosted at The Alisal Ranch in Solvang as an all-day, outdoor, unplugged program. Participants were immersed in nature and Community Conversations which have become a hallmark of recent programs. 

PFE themes and speakers vary annually, aiming to advance connections, leadership skills, awareness, and collaboration among attendees, presenters, organizations, and foundations. The program design is built around learning and professional development interests of the philanthropic community. Participants have consistently praised PFE programming, citing funder and peer connections, shared learning, and networking as valuable cornerstones over three decades of its history.

Over the years, Partnership for Excellence titular themes reveal continuous interest in collaboration and collective impacts, while also advancing interest in the fabric and culture of our local social sector. PFE has evolved from keynote-centric programming into elevating strengths, successes and solutions from within our Santa Barbara County network.

Recent themes have included activating equity, shifts and innovations during the pandemic, mindful leadership, and recognizing strengths through appreciative inquiry. Previous themes have covered a range of topics, including sustainability, productive partnerships, leadership, and nurturing effective boards. For thirty years, PFE has served as a platform for connection and solutions in a changing nonprofit world.

The Partnership for Excellence is a venerable, trusted and enduring program, central to the Santa Barbara County social sector community and an essential participant in advancing equity. We are committed to continue our work, creating learning spaces and awareness-building actions in the following areas:

Geography – Intentionally hosting at sites throughout Santa Barbara County to welcome and engage diverse and historically under-resourced regions:

PFE timeline

Access – Ensuring ADA accessibility and additional physical access considerations at all sites.

Language Justice – Providing bilingual Spanish and English promotions, materials, and live program interpretation services; attention to reaching and engaging participants who may benefit from English-Spanish translation for engagement, understanding, and learning while helping to create access for expression in their own voices.

Culture – Creating and maintaining a welcoming environment that promotes diversity, inclusion and respect both in PFE processes and programs.

Allyship – serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community issues and opportunities

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