Session Topics

What do we talk about?

Meetings include community interactions as well as a Featured Discussion by a speaker, panel, or voice from within the group focused on knowledge sharing, problem solving, case studies, and innovative tools and technologies. The group is highly participatory and members are encouraged to view each session as a platform for both sharing and listening to viewpoints, insights, challenges, opportunities, and solutions in the international development and global impact sector. All members are invited to our LinkedIn group to keep the collaboration going between meetings.

Sessions are open exclusively to Community Members. Interested in joining us? Learn more here and reach out here for an invitation.

Take a look at recent and upcoming themes:

October 2018: What Drives Radicalization? Rethinking Countering Violent Extremism

Ideology is important to extremist movements, but what if countering extremism is not about ideas alone, but something else? Join us in October as we explore current trends rethinking Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programming. Scott Shadian, CEO of Sayara International, will share knowledge and lessons learned from Sayara’s CVE programs in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Pakistan. We’ll examine CVE through the lens of civil war theory, looking at examples around the globe to understand how civil wars start, what this tells us about violent extremism, and how to use this knowledge for CVE. Through a series of workshop exercises, we’ll look local, understanding the role of communities around the world, and how gaps between governments and citizens can enable extremism to take root. Attendees will come away with a new perspective on CVE, new design tools and strategies, and more impactful ways to use research to support CVE programming. Learn more and register here.

July 2018: Summer Happy Hour

This July, instead of a thematic session, let's celebrate summer and spend some time getting to know each other better! We look forward to connecting with current and new community members over cocktails and conversation. Friends, colleagues and prospective members are welcome.

June 2018: Supercharge Your Personal Leadership Communication Strategy

Savvy leaders know that a communication strategy is just as important for an organization as a business strategy. As leaders, we spend significant time strategizing for our organizations, but what about for ourselves? Imagine if you and your fellow managers and executives were to leverage the same proven techniques of strategic communication used at the organizational level to build trust, inspire action and positively influence your key constituents. In this workshop style session, we’ll be joined by David Grad, Senior Consultant, Leadership Coach and Facilitator at The Kaufman Partnership, Ltd., to explore some of the key trends in this field. We’ll learn how mindset and self-awareness can help us create an environment more conducive to developing empowered relationships, and practice a proven, replicable framework for developing communication that enables us to better articulate our vision, provide clear direction, win buy-in and enable our teams to drive greater impact.

May 2018: Reciprocity Mastermind - sometimes the best resources are each other!

Drawing on our collective community "brain trust," we will focus inward for a peer-mentorship Mastermind session with our Community Members, facilitated by Elle DiLorenzo of Enduring Impact. We all have challenges in our work and this is an opportunity gain advice from your peers. Each attendee shares a meaningful request, challenge or question related to their work in the sector. Then, fellow members provide insights, strategies, resources or other feedback in response. The result: You will receive outside perspective and concrete ideas to see your situation in a new light and help you achieve your goal or address your challenge.

March 2018: SGI Happy Hour

This March, instead of a thematic session, let's spend some time getting to know each other better! We look forward to connecting with current and new community members over cocktails and conversation. Friends, colleagues and prospective members are welcome.

February 2018: Forecasting Civil Unrest using Ethnography and Artificial Intelligence

Join us in February when we'll be joined by Professor Eduardo Albrecht for a discussion on Ethnographic Edge. This project uses a combination of artificial intelligence and ethnographic methods to identify recurring patterns and develop leading indicators, relying on a three step process, which leads to statistically significant crisis forecasting and produces operationally relevant early warning signals, particularly in under-researched areas of the world. Forecasts are used by organizations operating in these locations to minimize disruptions to their operations.. During the session, we'll cover the project's methodology and explore forecasts for Kenya, South Sudan and more.

January 2018: Reciprocity Mastermind - sometimes the best resources are each other!

Back by popular demand! Drawing on our collective community "brain trust," we will focus inward for a peer-mentorship Mastermind session with our Community Members, facilitated by Elle DiLorenzo of Enduring Impact. We all have challenges in our work and this is an opportunity gain advice from your peers. Each attendee shares a meaningful request, challenge or question related to their work in the sector. Then, fellow members provide insights, strategies, resources or other feedback in response. The result: You will receive outside perspective and concrete ideas to see your situation in a new light and help you achieve your goal or address your challenge.

December 2017: Holiday Happy Hour

This December, instead of a thematic session, let's celebrate the holidays and spend some time getting to know each other better! We look forward to connecting with current and new community members over cocktails and conversation. Friends, colleagues and prospective members are welcome.

November 2017: Intrapreneurship: How to Channel your Leadership and Influence for Change

Are you interested in ideas and tools to increase your influence and become a more effective leader of change? Are you familiar with the feeling of being labeled the “troublemaker” inside your organization while wanting to be known as a problem solver instead? Intrapreneurship is a growing trend in organizations of all sizes and sectors. But, what is effective intrapreneurship and how can you become an intrapreneur yourself or support those looking to create change from within their organizations?

To help us navigate these questions, Nancy Murphy of CSR Communications will share the 5 Cs of leadership for influence and exchange ideas and opinions on effective intrapreneurship. Then we will hear about intrapreneurship in action at Special Olympics International from Olga Yakimakho, Senior Manager for Organizational Excellence, and how this global organization is using the power of leadership to enhance performance and impact, including engaging with one of the movement’s athlete leaders with an intellectual disability.

October 2017: Transdisciplinarity: A Collaborative Problem Solving Approach

We are deep into the Information Age. Never before has so much knowledge – including scientific knowledge – been produced, tested, communicated and made readily available to a vast audience. At the same time, we face science-intensive problems of global warming, over-population, water pollution and public health issues, to name a few. Yet, as the call for decisions based on sound science escalates, science is increasingly ignored, mistrusted or misused. Have you ever wondered why?

In this session, Dr. Nicolas Rofougaran, mediator in environmental disputes and educator in negotiation and conflict resolution, will explore this dilemma through examples from his work in environmental policy, then examine the concept and use of transdisciplinarity - a framework that places science, technology and general knowledge in their relevant social and political contexts. Transdisciplinarity proposes negotiated processes of knowledge production that include all stakeholders in science-intensive public issues such as environmental disputes or public health issues. In doing so, it creates a zone of overlap between the scientific, political and public spheres, where science-intensive public problems can be approached and solved more effectively. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of this dynamic and how it can be used in scientific dilemmas and beyond.

September 2017: Understanding the Role of Power in Design and Development

As someone working on a complex social issue, have you ever stopped to wonder where the power lies in your project? What has your client, partner or target community trusted you to do and for what audience? How does your place of power – as a creator and an individual – hinder your ability to relate to that audience? We often use power unknowingly. But, when we recognize the influence of our own race, politics, access and privilege we allow ourselves to understand our relationships, users and abilities more deeply. During this intimate conversation, George Aye of Greater Good Studio will help us understand the mechanics of power and how to wield it with care.

August 2017: Summer Happy Hour

This August, instead of a thematic session, let's celebrate summer and spend some time getting to know each other better! We look forward to connecting with current and new community members over cocktails and conversation. Friends, colleagues and prospective members are welcome.

July 2017: Reciprocity Mastermind - sometimes the best resources are each other!

Drawing on our collective community "brain trust," we will focus inward for a peer-mentorship Mastermind session with our Community Members, facilitated by Elle DiLorenzo of Enduring Impact. We all have challenges in our work and this is an opportunity gain advice from your peers. Each attendee shares a meaningful request, challenge or question related to their work in the sector. Then, fellow members provide insights, strategies, resources or other feedback in response. The result: You will receive outside perspective and concrete ideas to see your situation in a new light and help you achieve your goal or address your challenge.

June 2017: Design Research: Bridging the Gap between Corporate and Public Sector Design

International development and public sector innovation practitioners increasingly recognize the value of design thinking to solve complex social problems. Yet many are still learning how to adapt and modify design principles and practices from the corporate sector—which derive from the fields of product and interaction design—for public sector use in creating effective policies and programs. In this practical and interactive workshop, Marielle Velander and Emily Herrick of Reboot will share stories from their projects to bring to life the principles, methods and tools of design research. The session will offer opportunities for participation and discussion and will conclude with an exercise to help you apply these tools in your work.

May 2017: Radical Listening: How Truly Listening Can Lead to Better Understanding and Tailored Solutions that Stick

Would you cut down a tree to save your child’s life? What if the only way to provide for the immediate needs of your family was to destroy the environmental resources you depend on long-term?

Communities living around Gunung Palung National Park on the island of Borneo faced this no-win question for years. Gunung Palung is a biodiversity hotspot and one of the last remaining homes for orangutans. The nearby communities valued its existence. But without quality health care, medical emergencies were common and often the only source of income was illegal logging. Hard choices like these are the daily reality for many trapped in the cycle of poverty, poor health and habitat destruction. But, communities know the solutions to their own problems, a truth Dr. Kinari Webb recognized through a technique called Radical Listening. In this session, Kinari will share her experience in Borneo, how she and her team at Health In Harmony and Project ASRI used Radical Listening to channel the knowledge and ingenuity of local communities and the win-win solutions she's developed alongside rainforest communities for human health and the health of our planet.

April 2017: From Survival Mode to Creation Mode: How our Instincts Impact our Actions

We live in a time of unprecedented potential for creativity and growth. And yet, even those with few actual threats to daily physical survival are often living in fear and insecurity. How do we shift from survival mode to creation mode and envision an abundant future of possibility? Combining her experience as a Juilliard-trained concert pianist and martial arts black belt with neuroscience and the science of expertise, performance strategist Renita Kalhorn will share techniques and strategies to jumpstart your “Mental Six-Pack” mindset — so you can achieve self-mastery, orchestrate team dynamics and gain a greater understanding of cross-cultural situations.

March 2017: Changing Behaviors through Community-centered Design

Why don’t people engage in healthy and constructive behaviors? How does the environment influence them? At the end of the day, can we really change behaviors? We will look at these questions and more as we examine the relationship between understanding behaviors and realizing behavior change. Raheel Waqar of White Rice Communications will share his insights on understanding how to spark behavior change, and the principles, process and mindset needed to design effective behavior change campaigns.

February 2017: Design Thinking: Hone your Mindset for Empathy and Impact

Design Thinking has entered the mainstream, being used throughout the development and impact sector, as well as academia and the corporate world. But, what is it really all about? And how can we use it to better inform the work we do and how we relate to others? In this interactive workshop, Elle DiLorenzo of Enduring Impact will guide you through an overview of design thinking and explore DT exercises to help you understand yourself, your audience, and your approach to problem solving for impact. Already familiar with Design Thinking? Join us and share your insight and approach.

January 2017: Understand and Practice Storytelling in an Advocacy and Development Context

Humans are hard wired to understand the world through narrative – and it’s been going on since fire was discovered. Now, everyone is telling stories, 24/7, across gazillions of platforms and channels. Storytelling is a buzzword and it’s almost impossible to hear a clear signal. In this interactive workshop, Deborah Brozina of Making Change will guide you thorough a structured approach to storytelling within the advocacy and development space. She will show her approach to identifying the characters, plot and action that make up your narrative. And with that, you can focus your attention and effort where it works and drop the stuff that doesn't.

November 2016: Emerging Tools in Development Programming: Social Network Analysis

Building on last month’s engaging discussion on Systems and Complexity, Rich Fromer will introduce a tool for systems analysis that is just starting to gain traction in International Development. Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a way of thinking about social systems by focusing attention on relationships among the actors in a system. In this session, we will discuss the uses of SNA for development, the methods for conducting SNA, and a case study example drawn from Rich’s work in the field with his company, LINC.

October 2016: Why Social Change Interventions Often Fail: Understanding Complexity in Social Systems

Development interventions generally address symptom-level issues such as poverty, violence, unemployment or other visible social ills. However most often these symptoms are highly inter-related and a result of underlying societal dynamics and structures that are less visible or tangible for most development practitioners. Moreover, even when the structural issues are identified, actual resource limitations of development initiatives hinder tackling the main issues at hand. Looking through the lens of systems analysis, Ali Mostashari, Ph.D. will lead us as we examine complexity iceberg of structure, dynamics and events and why systems tend to go back to their original dynamics when a symptom-level intervention is performed.