Recognizing the systemic nature of the change they’re seeking, organizations are shifting how they approach change-making. They’re preparing for journeys that are more long-term, more large-scale, and more complex. How should we think about strategy in such conditions? What does success look like, and what challenges do we face? This panel will explore the new approaches and perspectives that social impact practitioners are bringing to their work.
The panelists’ reflections on these questions are collected in the new book Perspectives on Impact: Leading Voices on Making Systemic Change in the Twenty-First Century, which brings together over 20 leaders to share their perspectives on how the impact “field” is tackling the complex, multi-dimensional challenges facing our world. JOIN HERE
Chris Larkin, Director of Impact, IDEO.org
Chris Larkin joined the world of design after a journey through the fields of social and organizational psychology, social research, and behavior change programming. She has led research and evaluation with a number of creative organizations that leverage media, communications, and digital technologies for social impact. These have included BBC Media Action and Girl Effect, where she has worked extensively in Africa and Asia on programs tackling gender equality, political participation, climate resilience, and health. As the Director of Impact at IDEO.org, she supports design teams with integration of impact theory, measurement, and systems thinking in the creative design process. She is inspired by the transformative potential of design for social impact.
Shanti Nayak, Principal, Incandescent
Shanti Nayak leads the systems change practice at the consulting firm Incandescent. In this role, she has partnered with clients to advance the youth employment ecosystem, to build capacity to move the needle on national service, and to shape strategy that improves the effectiveness of the federal government. Shanti brings to her work a focus on strategy, and on the organization and people responsible for bringing strategy to life. Shanti enjoys working with leaders to bring their vision to life in the organizations they lead, to think deeply about how culture can reinforce the fundamental “why” of an organization, and is particularly interested in the challenges organizations face at points of inflection. Shanti holds an M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Mary T. An, Senior Director, Africa Programs, Sesame Workshop
Mary T. An is Senior Director, Africa Programs at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street in the United States. Through TV, radio, digital, and community outreach in more than 150 countries, Sesame Workshop provides the world’s most vulnerable children with access to early learning. Mary oversees Sesame’s programs and strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 18-year Takalani Sesame show in South Africa featuring “Kami,” a girl Muppet who is HIV positive. Before joining Sesame, Mary was the Director of Development & Planning at American Documentary POV (“Point-of-View”), the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary series. Prior to this, Mary managed and advised governance projects in international settings. She served over two years with United Nations Development Programme in Khartoum, Sudan launching a $142 million project strengthening democratic processes and ensuring elections. She has consulted for UN Women, National Democratic Institute, Open Society Foundation, Emory University, and the United Nations Foundation; and is on the board of directors of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture. Mary has traveled in over 50 countries, and holds a bachelor’s from Scripps College and a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University.
Cynthia Warner, Head of Research, Incandescent
Cynthia Warner leads research at the consulting firm Incandescent, connecting insight about human enterprise to the firm’s work with leaders, teams, and ventures. Cynthia is passionate about bridging disciplines to help organizations work in new ways, and has led a number of strategic, multi-sector partnerships to achieve creative and ambitious goals. She has especially enjoyed working at the intersection of design and city government, including at the New York City Department of Education, where she developed the Office of Innovation’s first professional learning program to create a culture of innovation for civil servants. Cynthia is a teacher at heart and by training, and is an alumna of Milano at The New School, where she earned a masters in Organizational Change Management.
Michele Kahane, Associate Dean and Professor of Practice, The New School, Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment (moderator)
Michele Kahane is Associate Dean of Educational Innovation and Social Engagement and Professor of Professional Practice in Management at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. She has more than 25 years of experience in the global business, nonprofit, and philanthropy sectors. Her teaching and professional practice are focused on social entrepreneurship, social innovation and social investment. As Associate Dean, she is responsible for developing, resourcing and promoting new innovations in applied, field based, and project based learning in support of the graduate and undergraduate programs within the Schools of Public Engagement and across the university. Prior to her faculty appointment at The New School, she worked in executive positions at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Ford Foundation and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College where she worked with companies, social entrepreneurs, and the public sector to forge innovative market-based approaches to global development. Michele currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future and Criterion Institute, and is a change leader in the Ashoka U Changemaker Consortium. Michele has an MBA and Master in International Affairs from Columbia University.