With Brazil's crisis as the backdrop, the 2016 ALI Fellows, Partners, and guests, traveled throughout São Paulo in June of 2016 and were exposed to social innovations in Heliopolis (the largest favela), the transformation of Vila Madalena (neighborhood), cultural inclusion efforts in Sala São Paulo and Pinacoteca (downtown), and highly respected social change leaders and thinkers throughout the trip. The participants were able to engage with a wide array of projects and understand the challenges on the ground more clearly.
Alberto Mora's time as General Counsel of the Navy from 2001 - 2006 greatly influenced his mission to illuminate the policy consequences of torture. Mora's drive to restore the nation's awareness and conscience against torture was gaining traction. Prominent stakeholders, including leaders in the military, government, NGOs and academia, supported his project. Moving forward, Mora knew that he still faced a number of critical challenges. What vehicles could he use to increase the project's reach and restore the nation's understanding of the costs and consequences of torture? How could he ensure that his project would survive the fluidity of public opinion? Perhaps most challenging, he had to collect meaningful data, which meant soliciting politically sensitive information.
Beatriz Cardoso, founder of Laboratório de Educação (Education Laboratory) had a dream to propel Brazilian education. However challenges in fundraising made it difficult to scale up her project, based on helping adults help children improve their literacy skills. To succeed in her goals, Cardoso had to build partnerships, raise funds, and expand the reach of Laboratório de Educação.
After a successful career as a superintendent of some of the nation's largest urban school districts, Carol Johnson elected to complete a Fellowship at Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative (2014). There, she hoped to gain perspective and knowledge surrounding how new superintendents of urban school districts could be better trained and supported in this challenging and dynamic role. Following her ALI Fellowship, Johnson created the Leadership for America's Urban Schools (LAUS), a proposed program that would provide mentorship, training, and networking for new urban school leaders.
David Weinstein, a lawyer and former Chief Administrative Officer of mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments, launched Write the World, a proprietary online platform that included a writing curriculum, essay prompts in distinct subject matter, and access to expert reviewers. By July 2013, Weinstein had completed his first writing competition in partnership with a school, where students submitted essays through Write the World. While Weinstein was eager to host future competitions, he also considered a number of other models to expand the program.
Former Trader Joe's President Doug Rauch developed an innovative idea to address the challenge of food insecurity, food waste, and nutrition. His concept was a new retail grocery model, offering nutritious affordable food to a food insecure population in the inner city using excess inventory. His path was not an easy one, but by April 2015, Rauch was celebrating the upcoming launch of his Boston pilot and flagship store, Daily Table. Daily Table would be able to test its operating model and impact, better understand its customer base, and establish community partnerships. After further expansion to other sites in Boston, Daily Table planned to expand nationally. But there were questions about whether acceptance by one community would transfer to others and what could Rauch do to prepare himself and his team.
Medical errors both in the U.S. and worldwide occur at alarming rates. In the U.S. medical errors were the third leading cause of death. Southwick experienced the consequences of preventable medical errors firsthand. As a physician and a professor, he researched and wrote about the causes and solutions for medical errors over the years. Southwick also launched pilot programs applying different quality improvement frameworks from other fields to medicine. Although the results were positive, he encountered resistance from many physicians. To build more skills, Southwick became an Advanced Leadership Fellow in 2010 and a Senior Advanced Leadership Fellow in 2011. He used his time at Harvard to develop solutions that would address the root causes of medical errors. The complexities in healthcare and the entrenched cultural norms presented strong barriers to creating change. The case explores Southwick's efforts in getting medical professionals to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and create a new sustainable culture that improves healthcare outcomes. Southwick's experience raises the question of how one person can best make a difference in a large, complex, entrenched system.
In July 2012, retired United States Army Major General Gale Pollock created Elevivo, a venture that worked on developing a comprehensive disease management software system to support the growing number of visually impaired individuals by providing them with tailored information for how to create and sustain a high quality of life despite vision loss. As a first time entrepreneur, Pollock was continuously frustrated with the slow pace of process. She also faced a number of challenges, including personal setbacks, financing concerns, large institutional deficiencies within the existing medical infrastructure, and a need to shift her business model. Pollock had an unwavering commitment to the development and adoption of the system.
In 2011, Gilberto Dimenstein, a well-known Brazilian journalist, created a new model that connected disparate resources to revitalize Sao Paulo. He wanted his model to expand across Brazil and the world. Dimenstein covered many of the social issues facing Brazil as a journalist and became determined to create solutions. Dimenstein started two social ventures, ANDI and Escola Aprendiz, before creating and developing Catraca Livre (meaning "open turnstile" in Portuguese) while he was an Advanced Leadership fellow at Harvard. Dimenstein pursued his idea of "learning neighborhoods", which meant a localized, low cost and effective way to leverage the existing available resources as educational opportunities. The resources were underutilized because of a lack of awareness. He believed that education should not be limited to the classroom and instead should be expanded to the entire city. Catraca Livre enabled Sao Paulo's residents to utilize untapped resources by aggregating all of the available resources and disseminating the information through multiple avenues including a website, subways, restaurants, workplaces, and more. This case shows how Dimenstein spearheads his solution to improve his city and offers a model for revitalizing cities around the world.
In 2013, Howard Fischer (hedge fund founder) and Eric Jacobsen (serial entrepreneur and private equity investor) established Gratitude Railroad as a community of impact investors in nine different "tracks." Each track represented a different concept for using capitalism to impact a social or environmental problem. The founders hoped to prove that impact investing could earn market rate returns or better, while achieving a positive social and environmental impact. After over a year of progress, they had to determine the best path forward for their community and how to prioritize between the tracks in order to maximize their impact.
A veteran of the freight forwarding industry, Issa Baluch wanted to transform the education space in Africa by introducing hands-on practical teaching in agriculture and agribusiness. In the summer of 2015 his vision of a practical learning institute for African agriculture workers had finally found its footing as the African Agribusiness Knowledge and Innovation Leadership Initiative (AKILI). Several African countries were interested in having AKILI branches; however, Baluch and his team were still working hard to design a concrete model for AKILI and figure out the best possible expansion strategy.
In May 2015 prominent leaders in St. Louis were celebrating the launch of the Contractor Loan Fund (CLF), a $10 million revolving loan fund meant to help area minority and women-owned construction contractors grow their businesses. John Dubinsky, the leader behind the advancement of this project, aimed to decrease the region's longstanding economic and social inequalities. Despite successfully scoping out the project, recruiting a team, fundraising, and launching the fund, Dubinsky was still worried about the process by which they would cultivate the growth of minority and women-owned construction contractors.
In 2011, Junko Yoda with Pam McCambridge launched CLinked, a venture aimed to reduce human trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. Since incorporation, they launched several different pilot programs in partnership with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Lampung, Indonesia where they also encountered a number of challenges ranging from a lack of trust within the local community to diminishing financial resources. Yoda struggled with the best approach to the large and complex issue, but started to gravitate towards developing replicable programs using art that positively impacted a small number of victims in high-risk communities. In 2013, Yoda wondered how she would grow CLinked and ensure its future.
After a successful career as Chairman and CEO of Paris-based luxury food company, Fauchon, Laurent Adamowicz, sought to reduce obesity and improve health outcomes. Adamowicz created a mobile application to provide consumers with more accessible and interpretable knowledge about the food they were eating so they could make better decisions. Despite Adamowicz's focus on promoting healthful and informed eating habits, many choices still lay ahead of him in deciding how to develop a platform and database, the type of business model that would best support his goals, and the types of collaboration and marketing techniques that would get his idea off the ground. Since 2010, Laurent Adamowicz evolved his concept for a mechanism that acted as a "nutritionist in your pocket" into Bon'App, a fully formed nutrition database and nutritional educational platform. After multiple iterations of the app design and revenue model, Bon'App began to see encouraging results with an increased user base and usage. Adamowicz's venture was accepted into a prominent Boston-based accelerator, attracted outside capital, added team members and attracted its first paying corporate client. Despite the progress made Adamowicz knew that his start-up remained in a fragile state. He wondered if he would be able to maintain the flexibility needed to capitalize on new opportunities while staying true to his mission to create a new standard for nutritional information.
Two years after the formation of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), a national affiliation of four independent Asian American civil rights groups, Paul Lee, who spent his professional career as a corporate attorney and stayed active in social justice issues, was still wondering how to strengthen the affiliation. Lee led the creation of AAAJ to be a national civil rights voice for Asian Americans. However, the affiliation still struggled to act as a unified group without a formal governance structure to resolve disagreements between the affiliates. Lee felt that the common goal of creating a national civil rights voice for Asian Americans was very important. But sustainably advancing towards that goal was a difficult task to master for AAAJ given that affiliates had differing priorities, boards, and working methods.
Raymond Jetson, an inner-city pastor, former Louisiana state legislator, and 2010 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow, has embarked on a new career as a social entrepreneur. The case charts Jetson's career in public life and the ministry, his experience as an Advanced Leadership Fellow, and his efforts to establish and grow a nonprofit organization, MetroMorphosis, with a mission "to develop and mobilize a critical mass of citizens in inner-city neighborhoods to design and implement sustainable solutions to persistent community challenges." As he approaches 60 and contemplates his future and that of his organization, Jetson must consider how to position MetroMorphosis for maximum impact now and over the long term.
After successful careers as lawyers Richard Fahey and Robert Saudek set out to tackle a large-scale infrastructure challenge in a complex environment by increasing Liberian citizens' access to lighting solutions. They developed the Liberian Energy Network, which aimed to distribute solar light fixtures to citizens across the country, including some of the most remote regions. Working in Liberia presented a large set of challenges and difficulties, however Fahey and Saudek persevered.
Two Valmont Industries (an international leader in infrastructure products and services) colleagues, Robert (Bob) Meaney and Richard Berkland hoped to improve the lives of small and medium-sized farmers in the developing world through modern irrigation technology. In October 2015, they had already launched three pilot projects in Africa, each with a unique model of engaging local and global actors around center pivot irrigation technology. They were eager to understand the impact each model had on agricultural yields, water resource management, and farmer income, to create a model adaptable to different regions around the world.
Bob Whelan developed an idea with partners that was a seed before his fellowship year and seemed to address a significant national challenge - college financing - with a creative concept and experience from his years in venture capital. His nonprofit was called 13th Avenue Funding and it provided equity as an alternative to debt for students to finance college. Since he first set out on his journey, he faced a lot of resistance and difficulty in scaling his non-profit aimed at enabling one million low income students to obtain a postsecondary education debt free. Whelan continued to persist and adapt to the changing environment.
Bob Whelan developed an idea with partners that was a seed before his fellowship year and addressed a significant national challenge - college financing - with a creative concept and experience from his years in investment banking. His nonprofit was called 13th Avenue Funding and it provided equity as an alternative to debt for students to finance college. Since he first set out on his journey, he faced a lot of resistance and difficulty in scaling his non-profit aimed at enabling one million low income students to obtain a postsecondary education debt free. Whelan continued to persist and adapt to the changing environment.
Following a successful career as a Senior Vice President, Vice President, and Chief Communications Officer at two large corporate companies, Shelly London set out to promote opportunities for young people to practice the ethical decision making that she had found integral for success in the corporate world. She developed a portfolio of initiatives that would expand opportunities for young people to be exposed to ethical dilemmas through familial interaction, computer games, and additional media outlets. London reflected on her recent efforts, she was pleased to see various facets of her programs and projects having an impact on the development of ethical thinking among young people.
Tom Santel, a former CEO of Anheuser-Busch's international subsidiary, pursued his initial interest in addressing St. Louis' educational challenges, which morphed into an early childhood health intervention program given the strong links between health and education. The initiative focused on connecting existing assets across the city to support the healthy development of infants until they reach third grade. Coordinating the collaboration between businesses, civic organizations, higher education, and nonprofits was challenging.
Following a successful career in finance, Torsten Thiele devoted himself full-time to the challenging cause of ocean conservation and stewardship. In August 2015, Thiele had already come a long way in spearheading initiatives towards the protection of the ocean: from building meaningful connections, to starting the non-profit Global Ocean Trust aiming to protect the ocean, and drafting a proposed system for a Global Ocean Bank for Sustainability and Development (OBSD). But Thiele still struggled to identify the best approach to advance the OBSD at the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting, where he could finally get closer toward a legally-binding universal agreement for countries to consciously protect the ocean.