Accelerating Social Transformation -- Aug 7-12, 2016

 A one-week professional development certification course | August 7-12, 2016


“Everything Changes and Nothing Stands Still.”  --Heraclitus

“Only the Paranoid Survive.”  --Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel

From Heraclitus to Andy Grove, leaders have understood and shown that the only way forward is through change. Today’s leader not only must know best practices, but should also have the ability to comprehend the peculiarities of situations, identify problems and deploy the skill sets necessary to develop a contextualized response.

Accelerating Social Transformation is a partnership between the University of Washington’s Bothell School of Business and the Catalytic Innovators Group. Geared toward professionals in the social good/development space, this course is designed to help you think broader and deeper by learning from leading organizations and experts on effectively adapting to change.

Over the week, participants will learn fresh approaches to social development and better understand how to effectively combine innovative solutions with technology and policy to accelerate social transformation. We will have site visits to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH to understand how they are managing social development in this changing environment. We will also visit Microsoft and Global Good to hear from experts on the continuous evolution of technology and its impact on the poor. In addition, participants will spend a day at the Seattle Impact HUB and apply course learnings to their specific project/program to co-create new approaches of accelerating social impact. This course provides participants with a great opportunity to interact with the rich social innovation network of the Pacific Northwest through shared activities and capacity-building trainings.

Why does this matter? Over the last several years, there has been a significant shift in how we undertake social impact and philanthropic efforts. The Institute for the Future refers to this shift as the “Second Curve Philanthropy,” which includes the following changes we will learn more about and address in this course.


  • A new generation of funders are creating different opportunities for social investments, posing new challenges and opportunities, and demanding greater risk-taking while minimizing harm. Mitigating failure in such a disruptive and evolving environment has become increasingly crucial to successfully drive positive change.


  • As the dialogue around more risk-taking and doing no harm is increasing and the use of different funding instruments is gaining traction, new ways of measuring impact and outcome are being introduced, making it critical for us to (re)consider how we take risk, scale projects and determine impact.


  • The rampant growth and dominance of technology is impacting how we design development projects, make social investments, collect data and report results. There is an evolving intersection of technology, creativity and social impact, which is paving the way for project design and implementation that is much for appropriate and effective.


  • As policy continues to integrate more with technology and society, it becomes imperative to establish a deeper understanding of its role in order to design innovative solutions and effectively scale projects to accelerate social transformation and maximize impact. 

As the curator of this program, I will lead the teaching and facilitation. I’m a seasoned executive with over 30 years of international development experience. I have managed corporate philanthropic programs and co-founded a global nonprofit for social enterprise. I previously also taught architecture and urban development at MIT, and classes on social innovation, philanthropy and corporate social responsibility at the University of Washington and Columbia University. 

Please join me and a select group of participants from across the non-profit, foundation, international development and business community for this evolutionary approach to professional development training. This will be a stimulating, eye-opening, and thought provoking week that will help you return to work energized and inspired with fresh thinking and new tools to accelerate the social transformation of the projects you are working on. 



As mid-20th century philosopher and writer Ken Kesey said, “You’re Either on the Bus or off the Bus.” 



For more information, visit:  Accelerating Social Transformation


Open letter to Max Chan Zuckerberg

Max welcome to this world!  You are indeed one of the few very fortunate babies to be born in an environment of so much love, care and unlimited opportunities.  Not every child born with you will be that fortunate. 

Your mother and father made a wonderful gift on your behalf to the world by launching the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – it is interesting that it was not named the other way around.  Your parents care deeply about the world and they have a very mature and equal partnership.  They are committed to ensuring the world is a better place not just for you, but also for the millions of other children who will grow up alongside you. 

It is also very impressive that in today’s environment of wanting quick results, your parents are taking a long-term view, selecting areas that can have long-term transformation. They also understand that their contribution – quite large by any standard – is still a small piece in the overall development equation. They are also smart to start locally in California, especially for personalized learning efforts.  

Your parents are undoubtedly surrounded by some very smart and astute people, who will provide them with input and advice along their very long and exciting journey.  I am hoping you will provide them the following input:

  1. They now have the ability to focus on Transformation and not just disruption. This does not preclude them from innovating, but the innovation should come with the goal of transformation – especially because they are interested in improving personalized learning, curing diseases, connecting people, and building strong communities.  It maybe be tempting to focus on the role of technology to solve massive problems, but it is also important for them to invest in technological solutions that are transformative rather than disruptive.  Given they are already thinking of long-term impacts over a five, ten, twenty year horizon, they can begin changing the conversations, currently focused on disruption, to transformation.

  2. This is also an opportunity for them to focus on Policy and partnerships with key groups and organizations to leverage the right policy change for transformative innovation. If they want to transform the communities that you, Max, will grow up in, then policy will play a central role. That is actually, in some ways, contrary to what is happening in the tech business community, where new businesses are butting heads against existing policy.

  3. With the kind of bright spotlight there is on the Initiative, it will be tempting for them to look for solutions that provide quick wins and hit a grand slam (borrowing from a baseball analogy), because hitting a grand slam is what personifies success in today’s hyper competitive environment, given the huge sums of money they are committing.  However, if they really think about it from the people/community they are trying to benefit, Singles (small meaningful transformation) matters more than a huge win (a Grand Slam).

We are going through enormous changes in society and many of them have been driven by access to and the development of technology, especially Information Technology, which your parents have been an integral part of. These changes are disruptive and are leading to an increasing gap between how we invest in social causes and the phenomenon of social action.

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) calls this the “second curve” philanthropy, where one or few individuals can attempt to create change on scale that was previously inconceivable, or only a large organization or entity could undertake.  There are many examples of the second curve, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, protests in Hong Kong, the Maghreb revolution – Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, even ISIS – many of them have had great initial success, but are either hard to replicate, as in the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, or moving from mass demonstration to a stable changed governance system, as in the case of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. 

For the future of philanthropy to continue creating a social impact, we will have to resolve the large gap between organized philanthropy, as we know it, and the second curve philanthropy of social action.  This is very important as the amount of money that will flow into second curve philanthropy will increase substantially in the first half of the 21st century, and your parents have just added a massive amount to that pool. 

My hope is that your parents and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will take the opportunity to bridge the gap between the first and second curve philanthropies, with the investments they make and by becoming a model for others to follow, similar to what Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford were to Gates and other social investors of my generation.  My hope is that your parents can become effective bridge builders with their investment and ability to change the conversation – think Transformation, Policy and Singles.

Wishing you and your parents an amazing journey of making slow, yet transformative change.

Conference Recap: Evolving Dynamics of Corporate Philanthropy and CSR

by Akhtar Badshah, Chief Catalyst, Catalytic Innovators Group — @akhtarbad

There is a serious crisis brewing. Even though the economy is on the uptick, around the world there are over 300 million disengaged youth, says Blair Taylor, chief community officer and executive vice president of Starbucks Foundation.  Solutions are not coming from the government, we all have to be engaged – “creating jobs is the endgame”.  This set the tone for a lively session with a packed audience that conversed around the issues of corporate philanthropy, partnerships, and making lasting impact.

Over 90 minutes Taylor, Liz Warman (Director, Global Corporate Citizenship, Boeing) and Lori Forte Harnick (GM, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft) raised issues ranging from moving the paradigm from philanthropy for social good it is the morally right thing to do, to it is a business imperative to investment as the future of business depends on a healthy and thriving society.  Each company has its own focus on creating opportunities for youth, employee engagement and mobilizing their large corporate networks to ensure the right level of investment, partnerships and impact.

What was highlighted is that corporations have several assets that they leverage – financial resources; employee acumen; products; and their ability to amplify the issue and be an advocate.  It is important for any nonprofit or any organization that wants to partner with corporations to study the company and its focus areas and make sure their mission is aligned to what you as a nonprofit may want to accomplish.  The key is to be aligned closely rather than broadly in terms of the outcomes. Blair said it best: “fish where the fish are!”

As a group the panelists were clear in their message, this the time for us to make large bets and invest in the future.  And if the focus is economic growth and empowerment corporations have to be at the table right from the beginning. 

On the whole the issues discussed in this panel dovetailed with some of the other conversations throughout the duration of the conference. Participants were grappling with hot issues of sustainability, climate change, employment, poverty alleviation to just name a few.

With all of the challenges that the conversation focused on what also became clear is that there is enormous opportunities.   There is wealth that is being generated, and significant wealth transfer will take place over the next decade – this investment will be very different and as a community we have to be ready for that.   Further information technology has also been a game changer and yet we all seem to be struggling how to effectively utilize the digital dividend for the underserved community.  Speakers at the conference emphasized that progress has been made and there has been impact.  But the opportunities presented by the new resources need to be capitalized on especially new forms of investments, new tools and other resources that can become a game changer in effectively scaling programs that have impact on creating sustainable living conditions for the majority.  

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