Past Events

  • Conference Session
    Saturday, April 9, 2016 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm Eastern

    Find us at the peer learning forum on rural philanthropy at the Council on Foundations' 2016 Annual Conference.

    Orton staff will join other foundation leaders in presenting on-the-ground stories about advancing family, business, community, and sector economic success. This session is a pre-conference event hosted as part of the Council on Foundation's 2016 Annual Conference: The Future of Community – Identity. Purpose. Place.

    Learn more

  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    Storytelling is a powerful way to broadly engage a community and hear from voices that often go unheard. Hear how storytelling has brought residents together, bridged long-standing divides, and ultimately helped community foundations make positive, lasting, and meaningful impact.

    This free, 60-minute conversation is co-sponsored by Council on Foundations and Orton Family Foundation and focuses on storytelling in the Community Heart & Soul™ method of community development.

    With guests Nancy Van Milligen, president and chief executive, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in Iowa; Katherine Kreuchauf, president of the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in Ohio, Jason Neises, Heart & Soul coordinator, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, and Monica Palmquist, a community organizer who served on her town’s Heart & Soul Team in Cortez, Colorado. Hosted by Fran Stoddard of the Orton Family Foundation.

    "Our foundation has been leading effective community engagement since 2005. We believe strongly that local decision making is key to building strong, sustainable communities. With Orton's experience, support, and resources like the Community Heart & Soul Field Guide, we see an opportunity to move our work from good to great." Nancy Van Milligen, president and chief executive officer, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa.


    Council on Foundations Logo

    Orton Family Foundation Logo

  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 8:00pm - 9:00pm Eastern

    Young people often feel left out of the larger community conversation, yet can bring fresh eyes, optimism and enthusiasm to any initiative. And, in many cases they want to be included, but just haven’t been asked. On this call from February 25, 2016, you’ll hear about the benefits of youth inclusion from the perspective of students and their elders. The results might surprise you.

    Featured speakers are Mark Nahorney, director of community relations, University of New England, who led an effort to get college students engaged in activities in downtown Biddeford, Maine. Andrew Cimonetti is a sophomore at the University of Vermont from Essex, Vermont. He played a key role in his town's Community Heart & Soul™ project, serving as co-chair of the Heart & Soul Team. Ali Lightfoot is production manager at public radio station KVNF in Paonia, Colorado. She directs "Pass the Mic," a  youth (ages 8-12) reporting project that was instrumental in breaking down barriers and bringing new voices into the conversation about the region's future. Hosted by Fran Stoddard of Orton Family Foundation. 

    Watch a video about Mark's work with college students.


  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 8:00pm - 9:00pm Eastern

    Social media is one important way to reach out to and engage community members and a key communications tool for any Community Heart & Soul project. Hear how social media can work for you in your town with insight and practical tips from Julie Brown, program director at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in Ohio and Leslie Wright, Orton communications associate, with host Fran Stoddard. 

    For a great primer on social media watch Julie's webinar on storytelling through social media. It's chock full of practical strategies for putting Facebook to work for you!


  • Heart & Soul Training
    Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 8:00pm - 9:00pm Eastern

    Phase 3 of the Community Heart & Soul™ method is about discovering ways to protect and enhance your community's heart and soul—what matters most—and building toward a future that honors them. After identifying community-wide character, attributes, and love of place during Phase 2, the next step is learning which ideas, decisions, and actions best support your town's unique heart and soul.

    Join Orton Programs Director Alece Montez-Griego and Senior Associate Leanne Tingay present this free webinar that includes audience Q & A. 

    Thursday, November, 19, 3-4 p.m. (Eastern)


  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    Community Heart & Soul™ had its genesis in one planning commissioner’s frustration with business-as-usual planning. Orton Family Foundation founder Lyman Orton saw flaws in a development review system that left decisions that affected the entire community in the hands of a few. Community Heart & Soul shifts the paradigm by starting with deep community engagement that results in clear priorities based on what matters most to all residents.

    Learn more about how this barn-raising approach to community development can benefit your town. Alece Montez-Griego, Orton director of programs, is joined by Rick Muriby, planning manager, Golden, Colorado, and Jane Lafleur, executive director, Friends of Midcoast Maine.

    Heart and Soul has really changed my perspective on the applicants and working with them. I care more about the community. … So when somebody has a project, I want to work with them and find ways to meet the city regs while also meeting their needs, and it’s not just so much about process and paperwork anymore. … Heart and Soul really can be called long term planning the right way.” Kirsten Sackett, former director of building and planning, Cortez, Colorado. 


  • Heart & Soul Training
    Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    FREE WEBINAR! Explore Your Community, Phase 2 of the Community Heart & Soul™ method, is about discovering what matters most to residents in your community and building a better future based on those shared values.

    In this 60-minute webinar you’ll get an overview and then take a deeper dive into the key activities in Phase 2: Gathering and Sharing Stories to Identify What Matters Most. There will also be time for Q & A. Presented by Alece Montez-Griego, program director and Meagan Picard, senior associate. 

  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, August 13, 2015 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    “Involve Everyone” is a core principle of the Community Heart & Soul™ method. Towns that have undertaken Heart & Soul projects have come up with creative ways to hear from community members whose voices might otherwise go unheard.

    With Meagan Picard, Orton senior associate, Meaghan Carlson, past Heart & Soul project coordinator in Gardiner, Maine, and Robby Henes, Heart & Soul Team member,  Heart & Soul of Cortez, Colorado. Both towns came up with creative ways to engage residents, from bar coaster surveys to a "The Good, the Bad and  the Ugly" photo contest.



  • Heart & Soul Talks
    Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    Learn how Orton's Community Heart & Soul™ approach incorporates personal story to illuminate a community's history, priorities, and aspirations, and how those stories can enable residents to drive local decision-making.

    Orton's Director of Programs Alece Montez-Griego is joined by Elaine Brett, project co-coordinator for the Community Heart & Soul project in the North Fork Valley, which includes the towns of Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford, Colorado. Brett worked closely with an innovative program called "Pass the Mic" in which youth interviewed residents to learn more about local industry and report on the Valley's values. Also on the call is Holli Andrews, executive director, Framingham Downtown Renaissance and former intern with Biddeford, Maine's Heart & Soul project where she helped develop a storytelling-based tour of downtown Biddeford that invited residents to record their stories at "HeartSpots" at key locations. 



  • CommunityMatters Event
    Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm Eastern

    Are community members in your town in the dark when it comes to planning and development issues? Does your local government struggle to recruit volunteers for boards and commissions? If so, a citizens’ academy could be the answer! 

    Citizen planning academies build local leadership, increase awareness, and broaden involvement in community planning.

    Wayne Senville, publisher and editor,; Leanna Lawson, chairperson, Rockingham County Citizens' Academy; and Kathleen Osher, executive director, Transit Alliance, join CommunityMatters® for an hour-long conference call on June 11. They’ll share ideas and tips for starting a citizens’ academy in your community.