We hosted the event because we wanted to broaden the conversation and educate people in the federal government about the importance of social innovation. We were fortunate to have an exciting group of attendees, including the recently appointed head of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Patrick Corvington, Mike Firestone from Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, Jim Fruchterman from Benetech, and Bill Strathman from Network for Good.
We opened the morning with a welcome from Virginia Congressman Jim Moran and an introduction from myself, and then heard from a panel of social innovators followed by a panel of government leaders. You can listen to audio from the event by clicking on the session links below:
My introduction (click here to read my remarks)
Opening Remarks from Virginia Congressman Jim Moran
Social Innovators Panel: Keith Artin, the COO of TROSA; Marcia Kerz, president of OASIS; Ellen Lawton, executive director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership; and Terri Steingrebe, Bonnie CLAC’s CEO, discussed the critical role that government can play in furthering their work, the barriers they face, and what government can do to accelerate their impact.
Government Leaders Panel: Chris Campbell, Sen. Hatch’s legislative director; Judy Reese Morse, Louisiana Lt. Governor Landrieu’s chief of staff; Peter Frosch, Rep. McCollum’s legislative director; Brian Van Hook, the senior policy advisor to the Senate Small Business Committee/Sen. Landrieu’s office; Marta Urquilla, the Senior Advisor for Social Innovation from the Corporation for National and Community Service; and Shivam Mallick-Shah, the Director of Special Initiatives for the Office of Innovation & Improvement at the Department of Education, gave their perspectives from Congress, federal agencies, and at the state level on what must be done to accelerate social innovation with government’s support.
For me, there were a couple of really critical takeaways from the event:
- We have to find a way to turn the conversation from the few to the many. Although this work is getting a lot of attention right now, the reality is that only a few members of Congress and government agencies at the city, state and federal levels are championing this work. We must convince people from agencies and in elected offices that this work is important.
- We need to clarify exactly what we’re working toward: the better mousetrap. We have to work hard not to get caught up in our own jargon, and to simplify the message about how what’s different here could make real change. When we lead off with “social innovation,” it often falls on deaf ears. How do we refocus and emphasize that this is about social needs and addressing problems in a different way, and communicate that we are really talking about improving people’s lives?
I especially encourage you to listen to the panel featuring government leaders. I believe it is the first time that representatives from Congress, government agencies, and a state have come together to share their viewpoints about social innovation. They each had very different perspectives on both why and what needs to be done to continue the work, and I know I learned a lot from the conversation. I hope you will too.
You can also see clips from the panels and video interviews with various attendees on Root Cause’s YouTube channel.
Photo by banna123456 via flickr
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