Accelerating Social Transformation

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

Bridging the Gap between First and Second Curve Social Investments and Philanthropy

Bridging the Gap between First and Second Curve Social Investments and Philanthropy

Thank you very much for this recognition, I am very grateful for being called the Global Washington Hero – but I am no hero.  I want to thank both Paula and Bill Clapp for their lifetime work in creating institutions that have had both direct impact and have also become centers of innovation that are being emulated by others. 

I have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in the space of global development for the last 30 years – whether it has been in the early part of my career looking at cities, informal settlements, housing for the poor, and urban revitalization, which I reflected upon in my book Our Urban Future – New Paradigms for Equity and Sustainability; or when I started a social enterprise, and later heading Microsoft’s philanthropic programs.

Equity and Sustainability is still what drives me.  Yes they have become overused words and at times it has lost its meaning, but to me they are still important, and are two sides of the same coin.  They go hand in hand.  You cannot have equity without sustainability and vice versa. 

We are going through enormous changes in society and many of them have been driven by access to and development of technology; especially information technology. These changes are disruptive and are leading to an increasing gap between how we invest in social causes and the phenomenon of social action which has to a large extent been driven by a few individuals and is at best unorganized with no central figure.

Our current systems have evolved over 250 years through laws, regulations, tools and practices and our world of philanthropy has thrived within this context.  Yes our practices have evolved but to a large extent we have worked within this system.

However, we now entering a new era that the Institute for the Future (IFTF) calls the “second curve” 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 stable changed governance system as in the case of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. 

For the future of philanthropy to continue to create 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.  Also there is an increased number of young people who believe a killer app will solve poverty issues. How we resolve this gap is crucial for the success of the field of catalytic/social impact? 

The Nobel Prize committee recognized this gap astutely (I think) in awarding their joint Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education". Theirs is a struggle for equity and sustainability.  But it’s also a bridge between organized approaches to social change and an individual using her unique power to mobilize a much larger community addressing rights of girls to have access to education.

My work now through the Catalytic Innovators Group is thinking through and practicing how to support those that are the new investors in catalytic innovation to effectively partner with policy makers and development experts so innovations can scale and have accelerated impact.  The opportunity is to build bridges between the first and second curve and develop leaders who can work at the intersection of innovation, policy, and markets.

For the real heroes who give their lives on a daily basis to achieve equity and sustainability this gap is very worrisome.  We, all of us in this community, need to rise up and work together so we can better address this gap and build the bridges so that the real heroes can be more effective in the work they do.  We must accelerate the pace of social change.

I accept this honor on behalf of all of the real hero’s out there.   Thank you very much.