"Innovating for Social Impact" - Ask leading VENTURE PHILANTHROPISTS how they pick SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS


An exciting evening with leading VENTURE PHILANTHROPISTS to learn how and why they choose innovative and resilient SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS for their portfolios

Whether it involves using embedded-fingerprint smart cards to facilitate microfinance in a fledgling economy, selling treadle-style irrigation pumps to help poor rural families raise themselves from poverty, using dirt motorbikes to deliver health services in the remotest corners of Africa, or simply using the internet to let you directly finance a micro-entrepreneur in a developing country, successful social entrepreneurs are living proof that innovation, be it process innovation or technology innovation, is a prerequisite for social impact. And, nobody understands the importance of innovation better than the people that write the checks that help social entrepreneurs grow to scale. In this engaging session, the venture philanthropists who are bankrolling some of these social entrepreneurs will show you how they analyze whether a social entrepreneur is resilient and innovative enough to take on some of the world9s toughest challenges. Join us for a fascinating discussion on why innovation and disruptive technologies could be the most important tools in the social entrepreneur9s quest for social impact. 

Moderator: Prof. Gordon Bloom, Harvard-Kennedy School of Government Director of the S.E. Collaboratory  


Ambassador Swanee Hunt, President, Hunt Alternatives Fund & former US Ambassador to Austria

Lisa Nitze, Ashoka VP, global E² effort, Business Entrepreneur program 

Vanessa Kirsch, Founder & President, New Profit

Raman Nanda, Director of Finance, Acumen Fund   


 Gordon Bloom, Director of the S.E. Collaboratory, Harvard-Kennedy School  of Government     

Gordon Bloom, is director and founder of Harvard9s Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory (SE Lab), a principal of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, and faculty advisor on Social Entrepreneurship, Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government. He is an author of the edited volume Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change (Oxford University Press, 2006). Prior to Harvard Prof. Bloom taught a series of courses on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University as a lecturer on the Public Policy Program faculty, School of Humanities & Sciences, and a faculty affiliate of Stanford9s Center for Social Innovation, Graduate School of Business. At Stanford he created the Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory (SE Lab), an innovative, Silicon Valley influenced incubator where student teams create and develop pilot programs for U.S. and international social sector initiatives. His teaching and research interests primarily concern strategy and vision for U.S. and international nonprofits and social entrepreneurship. Bloom9s interest in entrepreneurship is also informed by work in the private sector in the United States, Europe, and Asia as CEO of a medical technology company and in international strategy consulting. He holds degrees from Harvard (A.B. 1983, History & Science), Stanford (M.B.A. 1987) and Columbia (M.F.A. 1992).  

Ambassador Swanee Hunt, President, Hunt Alternatives Fund & former US ambassador to Austria

Swanee Hunt’s mission is to achieve gender parity, especially as a means to end war and rebuild societies, as well as to end poverty and other human suffering.  Hunt is the founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she also teaches.  She also chairs The Initiative for Inclusive Security (including the Women Waging Peace Network), which advocates for the full participation of all stakeholders, particularly women, in conflict transformation.  She has conducted training for women leaders in more than 35 countries.  From 1993 to 1997, Hunt served as ambassador to Austria, where she hosted negotiations and international symposia focused on stabilizing the neighboring Balkan states.  She has authored numerous articles for American and international newspapers and professional journals, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Denver Post, Dallas Morning News, and Rocky Mountain News.  Her book, This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, won the 2005 PEN/New England Award in the non-fiction category and included a foreword by former President Clinton.  Her memoir, Half-Life of a Zealot, was published in October 2006.   Raised in Dallas, Texas, Hunt made her mark as a civic leader and philanthropist in her adopted city of Denver, where for two decades she led community efforts on social justice issues such as public education, affordable housing, women’s empowerment, and mental health services for two mayors and with the governor of Colorado.  Later, Hunt became a specialist in the role of women in post-communist Europe.  In July 1997, she launched “Vital Voices: Women in Democracy,” a conference convening 320 women leaders in business, law, and politics from 39 countries.  The conference spawned the documentary Voices as well as an ensuing US State Department initiative led by Madeleine Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Hunt has provided news commentary and analysis on international and domestic television networks, including CNN, MSNBC, PBS and CBS Evening News.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Crisis Group and USA for UNHCR.   

Lisa Nitze, VP, Ashoka VP, global E² effort, Business Entrepreneur program  

Lisa is an entrepreneur with a real passion for developing public/private partnerships that harness combined resources, networks and expertise for public good. She has started four organizations, and worked in a variety of roles to advance job creation, educational excellence, environmental protection, historic preservation, cultural tolerance, and immigration and incarceration reform.  As Executive Director of the World Trade Center and World Trade Center Institute in Maryland, Lisa represented Maryland abroad and attracted foreign investment to the state. She developed a restoration and reuse plan for Ellis Island that had the combined support of national ethnic communities, historic preservationists, the U.S. Congress and the states of New York and New Jersey. Lisa also hosted government leaders and explored trade links with the countries represented in the 1994 World Cup Soccer Games played in New Jersey.  She directed efforts to develop tourism, technology, business retention and marketing plans for the State of New Jersey. Lisa also led efforts to draft an environmentally sustainable plan for opening the largest privately-owned piece of property in the state to the public, directed urban renewal initiatives in the cities of Newark and Camden, and worked on safe, clean outdoor play spaces for children in Newark. She was instrumental in creating and securing funding for the horticulture vocational training program for inmates at the New Jersey Correctional Facility for Women.  Lisa spent time in Lebanon, during its civil war, working as a teacher and in Thailand, as a reporter, writing for a business magazine. She earned an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from Harvard. She is now on the Board of Directors of the American University of Cairo working to find ways to promote peace in the Middle East through education. Lisa joined Ashoka in November 2006 and leads Ashoka’s global E² effort.  

Vanessa Kirsch, Founder & President, New Profit Inc.  

Vanessa Kirsch is the President and Founder of New Profit Inc.  New Profit is a national venture philanthropy fund that unites engaged philanthropists with visionary social entrepreneurs to grow their social innovations to scale.  Vanessa has more than 17 years of experience in developing innovative solutions to social problems and is widely recognized as a leading social entrepreneur.  Prior to launching New Profit, Vanessa founded and led two nonprofit organizations, Public Allies and the Women9s Information Network.  Vanessa has received numerous public service awards and recognition for her work.  In 2005, Ernst & Young named Vanessa “Entrepreneur of the Year” in the category of Social Entrepreneurship, an award that recognizes the innovation, vision, and tenacity of New England’s top entrepreneurs.  She has been recognized by Forbes as one of 15 innovators who will reinvent the future; by Fast Company as "Who’s Fast 2000;" and by the Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” as one of the most promising leaders in Boston.  Currently, Vanessa serves on the Board of Overseers to Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, and on the Boards of New Leaders for New Schools and College Summit.  Vanessa is a graduate of Tufts University and currently serves on the Alumni Council.  She lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts with her husband, Alan Khazei, Co-Founder of City Year, Inc., and their daughter, Mirabelle.  

Raman Nanda, Director of Finance, Acumen Fund   

Raman Nanda is the Director of Finance and Management Team member at Acumen Fund, managing investment-related transactions, the organization’s finance strategy and performance metrics for both the fund and its investments. Before joining the Acumen Fund, Raman Nanda worked at McKinsey & Co. for four years, mainly in the finance and healthcare sectors. Previously, Raman worked on tribal housing in North India and led an emergency medical relief team for earthquake victims. His academic work was based out of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

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