The Regenerative Economy
Table of Contents
- Introduction to the Regenerative Economy
- Glossary of Terms
- Event 8: Strengthening Communities: Equipping the Next Generation of Regenerative Leaders
- Event 7: Making the Energy Sector Regenerative: What It Will Take to Get There
- Event 6: A Career of Impact: Investing in Yourself and Your Community
- Event 5: Corporate Impact & Regeneration: Building Partnerships for Impact
- Event 4: Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action
- Event 3: Building a Regenerative Economy Together: Inspiring Stories and Community Connection
- Event 2: Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
- Event 1: Building a Regenerative Economy: How Green Swans Can Achieve Impact at Scale
Glossary of Regenerative Economy Terms
Regenerative Economy: an economic system that is subject to a social foundation for all people and abides by the rational use of natural resources within our planetary boundaries
Black Swans: an unpredictable and unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences
Green Swans: a profound market shift, generally catalyzed by some combination of Black or Gray Swan challenges and changing paradigms, values, mindsets, politics, policies, technologies, business models, and other key factors, that have the potential to catalyze significant change
Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so
Intrapreneur: a person who applies an entrepreneurial approach to innovating within a company or organization
Sickcare System: a medical industry that responds to illness more than it promotes positive health
Healthcare System: a medical industry that prioritizes preventative health and enables patients to live healthy lifestyles
Nature Deficit Disorder: when a person lacks understanding of their relationship with the environment, within and around them
Circular Economy: a system designed to keep materials in use instead of tossing them in the landfill. Three key elements of a circular business model are i) pollution and waste are eliminated by intentional design, ii) materials are kept in use, and iii) natural systems are reestablished
Impact Investing: A form of investing whereby those who are investing are committed to doing so in a way that generates positive environmental or social benefits for society, while also generating a strong return on their investment.
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs): CDFIs are focused on expanding economic opportunities and access to financial products and services to low-income communities. CDFIs are banks, credit unions, loan funds, microloan funds, or venture capital providers that provide opportunities for communities that mainstream finance doesn’t traditionally reach. This model can help those in underserved communities start small businesses, become homeowners, develop schools, address environmental challenges in their communities and more.
Exchange-traded funds (EFTs): Funds that trade on exchanges, along a specific index. Investing in an ETF results in a bundle of assets that you can buy or sell through a brokerage firm on a stock exchange.
Robo-advisory platform: A digital platform that provides algorithm-driven financial planning services based on questions answered about your financial circumstances and investment goals. A robo-advisor invests for you automatically in various ways, without the engagement of a financial advisor or personal contact.
Mutual funds: When a company pools money from different investors and invests that into stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.
Strengthening Communities: Equipping the Next Generation of Regenerative Leaders
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
The eighth, and final, event in the Regenerative Economy series, focused on the strength of communities and the importance of embracing the resources, knowledge, and insights of each community to build regenerative economies at all levels of society. The event spotlighted organizations working to make their communities stronger by focusing on the intersection of emerging leaders and the skills they need to succeed in meaningful careers that benefit their communities. Participants learned about place-based strategies that help bridge gaps in workforce development and career attainment in underserved communities, increase community capacity to tackle pressing social impact issues, and lead to stronger and more resilient communities.
- Diana Braithwaite, Program Manager, Audubon on Campus, National Audubon Society
- Allison Jones, Vice President, Brand and Storytelling, Common Future
- Carol Silva Moralez, Founding President & CEO, Upskill NWA
- Anina Tweed, Interim Executive Director and Director of Strategic Partnerships, Hack the Hood
Highlights from the Discussion:
What do you see as the value of the work you are doing?
Carol Silva Moralez: “From a purely human standpoint, what we know about the impact of an upskilling program or workforce development program, is that it changes the person who is going to school because all of a sudden they have access to free education. They also have the extra money that will then come into the household. From a generation impact standpoint… 70% of the children of those participants will go on to college themselves, and that is the regenerative aspect of Upskill NWA because you are not only changing the life of the participant, but you are establishing a role model for their children to follow.”
Anina Tweed: “The thing that makes me most excited about doing this work in the tech space, is that we increasingly see every day that technology is not neutral and it is not unbiased. And so when we have a very homogenous group shaping the technologies that we’re using every day, that are informing our lives, that are increasingly predicting things such as policing, such as who gets healthcare, such as who gets picked up in a rideshare - when these are not being designed with diverse perspectives in mind, that affects us all. So our hope is that we have youth who are really aware of these issues and really passionate about changing their communities.”
Why is it important to focus on skill building and training for the next generation of social impact leaders?
Diana Braithwaite: “I think it is important to help train this new generation in skills, particularly soft skills, that can help them communicate their mission. Because it is wonderful to have passion, but if you can’t communicate it in a way that’s going to build connections, you’re not really going to go anywhere. So that is important. There is also an important need for fundraising skills… communities are underfunded and so you might go in there wanting to make great change, but what are you doing to support the community as you are asking different things from them?”
How are regenerative leaders different?
Carol Silva Moralez: “Regenerative leaders are intrinsically motivated. They have every reason to give back and serve others and serve the greater good… they have grit and perseverance and vision. This is someone who sees something better for themselves and is willing to do whatever it takes, and they see something better for their family too. And when I talk about service, it also includes someone who is willing to serve – they’re serving on nonprofit boards, volunteering at schools, they’re giving back. So it starts this regenerative cycle: this community has given to me, therefore I am giving to it, therefore my family will give to it as well.”
What role does collaboration play in the work that you do and how can organizations work together more to enhance impact?
Diana Braithwaite: “Collaboration right now is at the heart of a regenerative economy. We can’t create something that’s sustainable and that would have a positive impact on climate if you’re not working together with local communities, and that includes working with BIPOC communities that have been historically excluded from the conversation… these are communities that have been doing the work, they’re the ones mostly impacted by the work, and they know what their young people need, they know what their workforces need in order to move the missions forward and so you can’t do that without collaborating with them.”
Anina Tweed: “I think collaboration is everything. We at Hack the Hood can do everything we can to train youth and empower them, but if the corporate ecosystem and if employers are not ready to receive them, and hire them, and also change their practices in the way they invest, then that is never going to be successful. And if we are not getting investment from local government, if we are not working with school systems, if we are not working with other community partners that are serving the same population, the impact is siloed and limited.”
What can YOU do?
- Consider how you can use your skills to help your community. Perhaps you have experience in coding, web design, business planning, finance, environmental science or another field and can use those skills to help emerging leaders bring their ideas to fruition and gain experience.
- Get involved with community organizations or companies working to improve communities. Look for ways to get involved with organizations in your community that are engaging in efforts to help youth or other community members engage in regenerative careers. That may mean seeking a career with those organizations or finding opportunities to volunteer. For example, if you are in the Bay Area, Hack the Hood seeks volunteers to serve as mentors for students and share their time and advice with youth learning to code and build their own careers in STEM. Or perhaps there are opportunities to mentor and engage students at educational institutions in your community. The Audubon Society also has local chapters, offices, and sanctuaries across the U.S and internationally. Students can consider bringing Audubon to their campus by starting a campus chapter, affiliating with an existing student group, or becoming an ambassador.
- Learn new skills to help your community. Consider applying for programs like Net Impact’s Climate Ambassadors Training program to improve your own skill development. The Net Impact Climate Ambassadors program offers an opportunity to be trained on how to effectively communicate the climate crisis, understand the system dynamics of climate change, become familiar with the highest-leverage climate solutions, and learn how to facilitate educational workshops using an interactive simulator. Learn more about these and other Net Impact programs.
- Engage in community projects through a Net Impact Chapter. Engaging in projects to support local communities is a core component of what Net Impact Chapters do all around the world. If you are part of a Chapter, consider what community projects your Chapter can lead and help with to strengthen your community and contribute to skill-building and knowledge-sharing. If you are not part of a Chapter and would like to get involved, you can search for one through the Net Impact website.
- Expand your knowledge with some of the following books and podcasts suggested by our event speakers:
- 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World: An Abolitionist's Handbook by Patrisse Cullors
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern by John Mark Comer
- Brené Brown’s "Dare to Lead" podcast, and in particular the episode with America Ferrera
- Harvard Business Review’s "Coaching Real Leaders" podcast
- Learn more about the organization’s our speakers represent:
Making the Energy Sector Regenerative: What It Will Take to Get There
Friday, May 20, 2022
This multi-stakeholder conversation explored the difficult question of how to create a regenerative global energy supply chain. Critical stakeholders engaged in an interactive discussion on what transformative change in the energy sector entails - including barriers to success, progress that can be celebrated, and areas for collaboration. Discussion areas focused on advancing an equitable and sustainable energy transition, expanding efforts to reduce global reliance on fossil fuels, and taking action within energy supply chains to mitigate the effects of climate change.
- Vibhuti Agarwal, Manager, Project Operations, Kevala, Inc.
- Raul Alfaro-Pelico, Senior Director, Energy Transition Academy, Global South, RMI
- Akilah Leblanc, General Manager Commercial Innovation Partnerships, Shell
- Frank Nguyen, Knowledge Manager, Global Climate Strategies, Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI)
- Bruno Sarda, Partner/Principal, Climate Change & Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young LLP
Highlights from the Discussion:
What do you think are two critically important things needed in order to create a more sustainable and regenerative energy sector?
Vibhuti Agarwal: “One for me is collaboration across different stakeholders in the energy industry. I think a lot of players in the industry – utilities, solar developers, EV developers, startups – everyone is doing really awesome work, but everyone sometimes works in isolation so if we could actually figure out a way to bring folks together, bring all of that brain power together, I think that collaboration could make things happen much faster and in a more efficient way. And then the second one is speed – sometimes there is a balance between risk taking and speed, and I think we need to prioritize speed a little bit given where we are in our climate journey.”
Raul Alfaro-Pelico: “Even in the perfect scenario today - even if we had all the finance in the world and all the technology - we don’t actually have the people trained to implement the transition. So for me, regeneration starts with people and I look at it in two ways – one is workforce development and that means equipping people with the skills to actually work in the energy sector. Whether it’s young people or women who want to move into science, technology, engineering, or mathematics disciplines – we need to bring them on board. Right now, if you think about the fossil fuel economy, maybe it has 10-15% participation of women in the workforce whereas in the context of renewable energy, you are talking about currently around 30% with the potential to increase to 50% if we put the resources in the right place… the second thing is a bit more abstract, which is leadership empowerment. When people talk about finance and technology, I think we often forget that behind that financial decision, there is a person. A lot of the work that we do in the Energy Transition Academy is targeting leaders at utilities, regulators, developers, government, and the financial sector – because those are the ones really making decisions and those are the ones who can change minds and hearts in order to really allocate the necessary resources to people.”
Frank Nguyen: “A future where the energy sector could be more regenerative is one where there’s no further harm to ecosystems and communities that would be impacted by these activities. The focus of this definition needs to be on people. And a future energy sector should definitely provide increased energy security and access at lower costs while having the potential to shift ownership and production of those resources to being more locally led and owned…In my mind, we have the technology that we need, we just need to scale it a lot faster. So first is increasing the pace of renewable deployment and energy efficient technologies, particularly in developing countries – and increasing finance for those countries in the global south. And then secondarily, modernizing grid technologies that include transmission link buildouts and developing better technology around batteries and digital tools to help manage the grid better.”
Is there a key alliance or partnership that you’ve seen work really well? Any thoughts on examples of partnerships, what we need to see more of?
Akilah Leblanc: “One that I’m especially proud of because I work directly in this space is our Shell Gamechanger Accelerator and that is a partnership with NREL – the National Renewable Energy Lab. It is a multi-million dollar collaboration, multi-year, and we identify startups that are developing really novel disruptive technologies that can impact the future of energy. We intentionally make it this big statement because as I like to say, we welcome weird, wonky, crazy ideas and take a look at them to see how we can de-risk it, develop a proof of concept and ultimately make larger investments. It’s about getting technologies to scale in a way that’s affordable and accessible to large groups, communities and society.”
What are some of the key obstacles and challenges to achieving a regenerative energy transition?
Frank Nguyen: “We have to remember that there are real challenges that folks still face every day in terms of their relationship with energy. For example, I talked to folks in South Africa recently and they’re in a place where the narrative isn’t about ‘let’s make our energy as clean as possible.’ It’s like ‘am I going to have energy tomorrow night?’, so when we have those types of competing priorities where often their survival and their livelihoods are tied to it, it’s tough to push a narrative of clean technologies and climate change. These kinds of concerns need to be addressed…a second big challenge in this is going to be the ability to wind down expansion of further fossil fuel infrastructure and really prevent further emissions locked in. The recent IPCC reports show that we really can’t afford to be using fossil fuels to this extent for that much longer and for developing countries in the Global South, they are looking to improve energy production and energy access. The Global North has not really taken their fair share of fulfilling the promises where we would help finance the Global South’s leapfrogging fossils straight into clean technologies and there is a lot of disagreement, for example, among developed countries of who is responsible and who is liable for what, on a historical and equity basis and that kind of dialogue is in such a deadlock.”
What is one thing you would like to highlight or celebrate--point out as a success?
Akilah Leblanc: “10 years ago, we were still debating in the U.S. if climate change is real and what I’ve seen evolve from that is an acknowledgement by so many people in our community and industry – there is an acknowledgement that this is real and it is having an impact. So that’s a huge leap…I think one thing to celebrate is that we’re putting targets in place, we’re making those public, we’re holding ourselves and each other accountable, even in a space where there is no specific roadmap… and I say we, the collective we by us talking about what our goals and ambitions are and putting them on paper. I think that is definitely something we should celebrate – the progress we’ve made in the last 5 years.”
Vibhuti Agarwal: “When I started working In the industry, sustainability was a buzzword and greenwashing was a real concept... but that has really changed and I think we are witnessing some true changes happening, some transformations happening. We’re getting a sense of urgency in everyone’s own behaviors. What encourages me is that I see targets in the year 2025 as well, which is scary that it is just 3 years away, but we need that. So despite all of the challenges, that is definitely something to be celebrated and encouraged by – there are a lot more people today dedicated to this cause and to making things better in the U.S. and globally as well.”
What can YOU do?
- Consider a career in sustainability and energy: You can help contribute to new ways of thinking about regeneration in the energy sector and addressing climate change through pursuing a career in STEM or sustainability in the energy sector. If you are a social impact professional, think about what your company can do to better engage in efforts to advance sustainable and regenerative energy goals.
- Participate in accelerator programs like Net Impact’s Future of Energy program or Net Impact's climate ambassadors training program. Net Impact hosts programs related to climate change and energy solutions. The Future of Energy Challenge is a case competition & business accelerator focused on innovative solutions to reduce emissions for a sustainable energy future. The Net Impact Climate Ambassadors program offers an opportunity to be trained on how to effectively communicate the climate crisis, understand the system dynamics of climate change, become familiar with the highest-leverage climate solutions, and learn how to facilitate educational workshops using an interactive simulator. Learn more about these and other Net Impact programs.
- Advocate for policies and business solutions that improve regeneration and sustainability within energy supply-chains: Encourage businesses and governments to push forward towards net zero emissions, and even further to climate positivity and regenerative benefits that replenish resources.
- Explore this topic with your local Net Impact Chapter or community. Investigate efforts in your community to advance regenerative and sustainable energy practices and look into how you can help support these initiatives. Look for ways to partner with organizations working in this space, and to help educate your community about the importance of reducing emissions within energy supply chains and creating a more regenerative energy system.
- Expand your knowledge with some of these books and podcasts suggested by our speakers:
- Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
- Ernst & Young’s "Sustainability Matters" podcast
- Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism by John Elkington
- Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins
- "Stuff you Missed in History Class" podcast
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
A Career of Impact: Investing in Yourself and Your Community
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
This sixth event in our Regenerative Economy series was an in-depth, multi-workshop event exploring how members of the Net Impact community can create positive social impacts and support regeneration through the choices they make regarding their careers, investments, and the ways in which they network and build connections with others. Through participating in this 3-part event, participants:
- Learned more about the ways in which banking, investments, and other financial decisions can promote positive impacts for your community and the planet
- Gained a better understanding of the social impact career landscape, we all as, trends and predictions for emerging career fields
- Connected and networked with fellow members of the Net Impact community, professionals, and social impact companies.
Part 1: Investing for Impact
The first session focused on how you can create an impact as an individual through choices you make regarding your own personal finances, including how you structure your investments and 401(k) and what financial institutions and banks you choose to utilize for your savings.
- Danielle Burns, VP of Business Development, CNote
- Ethan Powell, Principal & CIO of Brookmont, Founder of Impact Shares
- M. Randall Strickland, Director, Pathstone; Member, Board of Directors, Net Impact
Highlights from the Discussion:
In its simplest terms, what is impact investing?
Randy Strickland: “There’s an alphabet soup of terms and acronyms you have probably heard: green investing, ESG, socially responsible investing or SRI and of course impact investing and while there might be slight different methodologies between all of them - in its simplest terms impact investing is really about - using capital market solutions to solve some of the world’s most vexing problems, whether that is the environment, social justice, healthy foods, access to capital, health care, education….you should care about this because things like inequality, things like climate change, things like a lack of access to capital are all systemic risks that actually have financial consequences and so this is not just about a morality play – there is enough evidence to show that if these things are not addressed, they will affect the global economy.”
What are your thoughts concerning the democratization of impact investing – or how can those who are not independently wealthy or come from money engage in impact investing and align their investments with their values?
Danielle Burns: “As an industry, we have the challenge, the call to action, to move out of it only being a place for wealthy, white individuals to both work and invest in and making it a place where all folks have access and opportunity to do so. We have done a really good job at using language that seems very exclusive and for the average folk, it is intimidating – if I have no idea what that means it must mean it is not for me. All of those things together just really paint a picture that impact investing is not for the common individual person. As a result of that, that is exactly why CNote was started. CNote was started as a way to democratize investing for individual investors. Our minimum is $1 and so literally anyone can invest through CNote and we’re really proud of that because we believe anyone who wants to be able to invest in supporting communities they care about should be able to do so.”
Ethan Powell: “Until relatively recently, impact investing and ESG investing was largely the purview of philanthropic endowment foundation pools of capital that were doing direct community investments. There are a lot of options today. I think it starts with the realization that every dollar of your consumption, your portfolio of investment, has an impact on the world around you and so you, as an investor, need to start thinking about how much intentionality you want to have with that investment money and then to the extent you do have a financial advisor, or intermediary, or even friend or family member you can turn to, explore different investment options that reflect an express your desired social and environmental outcome. It starts with your own understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and then exploring alternatives there.”
What can YOU do?
- Consider contacting a financial advisor:
- The event speakers noted a few different ways you may be able to start engaging with a financial advisor. One suggestion mentioned was signing up to use robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront that can help you figure out how to invest small amounts of money in a meaningful way. If you want to meet or speak with a person (and not a robot), our speakers noted the important role that Certified Financial Planners can have in terms of helping you better engage in impact investing.
- Look for ways to invest in CDFIs
- Learn more about the work that our speakers are leading at CNote, Impact Shares, and Pathstone to democratize impact investing. Consider if working with either company could be a good fit for you:
- CNote: https://www.mycnote.com/
- Impact Shares: https://impactetfs.org/
- Pathstone: https://www.pathstone.com/
- Consider if you may want to change your relationship with banking
- Banks have significant financial power and the ways in which they use that power can be very different across companies. Mission-driven banks can also be CDFIs and you may want to consider how you can invest in those institutions which are providing access to financial services for underserved communities.
- For those who are students or alumni of universities - research what they are doing with their money and large endowments, stay informed and see how you can advocate for changes based on the kinds of investments you want to see being made in order to support broader social and environmental impact goals.
- The U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment has online and live courses for different audiences, including advisors, other financial professionals and individual investors and fact sheets on the basics of sustainable and impact investment that can help you get started.
- Green Money Journal is another resource that provides information and news on sustainable and responsible investing.
Part 2: Social Impact Career Landscape & Workshop
The second session supported participants in gaining a better understanding of the current landscape of social impact careers, with an emphasis on regenerative careers in fields such as circularity, environmental justice, and social entrepreneurship. Attendees gained insight into skills, tools, and resources to help shape their own regenerative and social impact-focused careers.
- Marcos Salazar, CEO, Be Social Change
- Jenn Lishansky, Chief Engagement Officer, Be Social Change
- Caroline Ouwerkerk, Principal Career Coach, Caroline Ouwerkerk Consulting, LLC
Highlights from the Discussion:
Why is it important to find your purpose as the first step in engaging in a social impact career?
Marcos Salazar: “When you get clarity on your purpose, it’s not some end destination where everything is puppy dogs, ice cream, rainbows… but you do need to figure it out and get clarity on it and that helps you move into the direction that you want to go. Purpose is really the foundation for everything because when you have clarity on your purpose it serves as a framework to make decisions on your career but also your life.” Marcos also emphasized that “Your purpose is the background of your career because it creates that framework for all future decisions, for all strategy. So once you have clarity on that you can go through the world, search for jobs, you can search for your career path, you can see if the culture of an organization fits because you have clarity on your purpose.”
What are some of the key elements of building a strong personal brand?
Jenn Lishansky: "Number one is based on the clarity that comes from really understanding what your purpose is. Once you have defined what you want to be known for, then you can decide what strengths you want to communicate. It’s also about clarifying the key problems that you can solve for people or for an organization. So if somebody has an open position and they want to fill that with the most credible and experienced person they can, it is on you to express how you can do that… You also want to be sure to craft what is unique about you. It’s not so much that you want to have a personal brand that is exactly like someone else’s. Your personal brand should speak to who you’re about.” Jenn also emphasized the importance of understanding who your target audience is and who you are trying to communicate your brand to: “This last piece is one of the most overlooked components of a personal brand and yet it is one of the most imperative. You have to understand who it is that you’re communicating to. If you’re saying you’re communicating to everyone, then you are communicating to no one.”
What are some of the challenges individuals might face if they pursue careers based solely on what others have told them they are “good at” or others’ perceptions of the kinds of jobs they should do?
Caroline Ourwerkerk: “People’s suggestions of what you should do with your career are not nearly as creative as the variety of jobs that exist. There are so many jobs out there…when we tell kids especially ‘oh you’re good at this, you should do that’ we start to internalize these words and I think that is a really important message to consider. We start to internalize those words and we don’t necessarily have the time or the space to consider if we actually like this thing that people are telling us we’re good at. And rarely, if ever, are we given permission to stop doing something we’re good at, especially if the reason is ‘we don’t like it’…It takes a lot of effort to do things you don’t like to do, no matter what your skill level is. You might find yourself procrastinating and doing something you enjoy more, or avoiding the project, or coming up with ways to not have to do it.” Caroline also focused on the benefit of shifting your approach to careers and to consider: “How can you do more of the things you’re good at and like to do? How can you tell people in your life like managers, or other people who have the space to give you work and development opportunities – how might you share with them that you are interested in things, in these tasks, so that they can identify projects that will help you continue to develop those skills."
What can YOU do?
- Net Impact’s career resources website and a jobs and internship board where you can search for employment opportunities in mission-driven businesses and social enterprises. And if your company is interested in hiring people who are passionate about change, consider posting on our jobs board.
- Missed the workshop? You can view the PowerPoint slides and use the following worksheets to help you explore your career purpose:
- Caroline Ouwerkerk’s “Good at/Like to do” matrix will help you determine how your interests align with possible career fields in the social impact space.
- The Social Impact Career Change Checklist created by Jenn Lishansky and Marcos Salazar of Be Social Change will help you get started with your job search!
- Interested in having a more in-depth conversation with one of the career coaches who engaged in this event? Feel free to connect with them on LinkedIn or visit their websites to connect and discuss your career pathway.
- Consider what your engagement on LinkedIn looks like. Have you joined groups to help you connect and engage with others in social impact? Consider joining the Net Impact LinkedIn group, which has almost 14,000 members, in order to better utilize LinkedIn as a tool to engage with like-minded people and expand your professional network.
- Expand your network by joining a Net Impact Chapter if you aren’t yet a member. Through Net Impact Chapters, you can connect with people who are also interested in making a difference in the world. Find a Chapter in your area!
- Tools for finding your purpose and seeking a social impact career:
- Books & Articles Suggested by Speakers & Participants:
Part 3: Career Networking & Connection Building
The third session provided participants with an opportunity to connect with peers and social impact professionals through the option of joining smaller discussions focused on key areas of social impact, or having one-on-one informal chats with fellow members of the Net Impact Community. Through these conversations, participants built connections and strengthened their professional (and personal) networks to support social impact.
Main speakers in each themed discussion room:
- Olayinka Credle, Social Impact Entrepreneur, and DEI & Wealth Equity Consultant, Olayinka Credle Consulting
- Marie Koesnodihardjo, Managing Partner, Mangrove Web Development
- Elizabeth Sarquis, CEO & Founder, Global Gaming Initiative, LLC
Environmental, Social and Governance
- Danielle Azoulay, VP, Head of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), Bed Bath & Beyond
- Mary Jane McQuillen, Managing Director, Portfolio Manager, Head of ESG Investment, ClearBridge Investments; Net Impact Board Member
- Jennifer Silberman, VP, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), YETI; Net Impact Board Member
Circularity & Regenerative Supply Chains
- Ben Christensen, CEO at Cambium Carbon
- Allie Strauss, Senior Project Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability, Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc
- Ibada Wadud, Founder & Head of Impact, LULAH
- Eric Lee, Vice President, Aligned Climate Capital
- Milena Stojceska, Manager, Investor Experience, Unreasonable
Non-traditional Career Paths in Economics
- McKenzie Fleurimond, Economic Development Commission North Miami Beach, Vice Mayor - North Miami Beach
- Dr. Taron Richardson, Professor of Public Policy, University of Virginia / former City Manager/Chief Executive Officer for the City of Charlottesville, VA
STEM & Social Impact
- Jasmine Michelle Carbone, Web Developer & Designer, Animikii Inc
- Abayomi Sofolahan, Software Engineer, Etsy
- Akhil SG, Founder & Managing Trustee, Sahridhaya
Environmental & Climate Justice
- Rachel Arlene Redeye Porter, Co-Founder of Kneading Change; Founder, The Indigenous Enough Project; Public Speaker & Consultant, Rachel A. R. Porter Consulting
- Sophia Dossin, Regulatory Affairs Analyst, Invenergy LLC
- Kevin V. Shen, Northeast Transportation Policy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists
Key Elements of the Discussions:
- There is no singular path to engaging in a meaningful social impact career. By bringing together professionals with a myriad of perspectives and backgrounds to share their experiences and insights with participants, this event showcased a broad range of stories, journeys and career pathways in social impact. The diversity of speakers provided critical understanding on how social impact shows up in their everyday work and choices and helped participants gain an opportunity to see and learn the nuances and differences between careers. While each discussion room had several professionals from the same broad field (e.g. impact investing, climate/environmental justice, social entrepreneurship) discussing their role and background, all speakers had their own unique story and journey that defined how they got to where they are today.
- There are a wide range of careers you can pursue to make a positive social or environmental difference in the world. From environmental justice and social entrepreneurship to equity in economics and voter rights, the social impact career landscape is immense and there are vast options in terms of careers that you can choose based on your interests, skills, goals, and the kind of difference you would like to make for your community. This message was highlighted through the range of professional backgrounds maintained by each speaker, and the conversations that discussed the myriad of ways different kinds of careers - like a data scientist, an advocate or an impact investor - can all contribute to a common goal of climate justice or another social or environmental issue. And the landscape of social impact careers is growing, with new kinds of jobs being created and designed every day, again emphasizing that there are a wide range of career options for those wishing to engage in an impactful career.
- Building connections is critical. The importance of networking and building connections was emphasized by speakers throughout the event. This included the importance of connecting professionally, but also the value of sharing and learning from one another, celebrating successes and growing from failures, and helping others as you progress in your own career. The speakers discussed the value of “finding your people” and building connections to support your professional and personal growth.
What can YOU do?
- Build your connections!
- Consider joining the Net Impact LinkedIn group, which has almost 14,000 members or other LinkedIn groups, such as Reconsidering Business — A Group for Social Impact, Sustainability & CSR Practitioners, in order to better utilize LinkedIn as a tool to engage with like-minded people and expand your professional network.
- Expand your network by joining a Net Impact Chapter if you aren’t yet a member. Through Net Impact Chapters, you can connect with people who are also interested in making a difference in the world. Find a Chapter in your area!
- Seek out opportunities to network in-person or virtually to connect with others and continue to grow your circle of professional and personal connections.
- Connect with speakers on LinkedIn or via their websites listed above to learn more about their work.
Corporate Impact & Regeneration: Building Partnerships for Impact
Wednesday, Mar 23, 2022
This fifth event in our Regenerative Economy series spotlighted corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who are working at the intersection of business and impact to spark social enterprise and build regenerative and resilient communities.
Speakers shared their insights and experiences supporting social entrepreneurship, leading accelerator programs, and ensuring company investments have a positive impact on people and the planet. Participants learned how to apply these strategies and received advice for social entrepreneurs and/or those seeking an impact-focused career.
- Laura Clise, Founder and CEO of Intentionalist
- Jenn Graham, Founder and CEO of Inclusivv
- Philip McKenzie, Cultural Anthropologist and Strategist, Host, “The Deep Dive”
- Maury Wolfe, AVP, Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs at Cox Enterprises
Highlights from the Discussion:
How do you continue to prioritize your customers, your communities, and your company’s values while you also scale and grow?
Laura Clise: “What it comes down to is building trusted relationships with people. No amount of growth is worth compromising the belief that we have that we can transform consumer culture to better reflect the values that we say we’re committed to–to make it easier for all of us to walk the talk. What we’ve been able to demonstrate over the past four years is that the trust we’ve been able to build with all of the stakeholders in the main street, small business ecosystem is why we’re now seeing an acceleration of opportunities with tech companies, with professional sports teams, with nonprofit organizations that recognize that it isn’t just about what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it–in a way that isn’t extractive, in a way that keeps benefit to small business owners at the heart of every decision we make. Otherwise, we don’t move forward.”
Jenn Graham: “Flexibility; remembering who you are, why you started this work, the impact that you want to create at the end of the day. When we went back to our core mission, to create a more inclusive world, it was a no-brainer when we came up with our new name, Inclusivv. It’s more than just about diversity, equity, inclusion, and identity: it’s literally a practice of how we make sure every voice is heard, that everyone has a chance to have a say and play a role in co-creating a better world. And don’t measure yourself by the size of your organization or even the revenue you have; it’s about the mission and the long-term sustainability of our work.”
What is the value of building partnerships between these different stakeholders in order to support social enterprise and social impact?
Maury Wolfe: “For a long time it felt like there wasn’t supposed to be a return on investment, there wasn’t supposed to be business growth–we were supposed to keep those things separate–and I’ve always had a problem with that premise because I saw a lot of value with businesses. Now we’ve seen the market shift and the reason is because when we can have business value and a return on investment for doing social or environmental good, it’s stickier–it lasts longer. It’s not someone’s pet project or someone’s personal passion; it gets embedded as part of the business. That’s why you’ve also seen businesses start to transform: now we find ourselves focused on doing good in the areas where we have business expertise because then we can have an outsized impact. It really speaks to that idea that there’s business return and if you’re smart about it, and play where you have strength, we can have an even greater impact in the places that matter.”
What Can YOU Do?
- If you work in a big company, figure out how you can increase your impact within that company - is there a part of your company that already works with social enterprises that you can get involved in?
- If you are in social enterprise, how can you find accelerators like TechStars or make connections with others - such as community support organizations - to help grow your business and your impact?
- And if you are an investor, how can you support social enterprises or build partnerships to support entrepreneurs?
- Host an inclusive conversation with Inclusivv: https://www.inclusivv.co/
- Adopt regenerative consumer practices that support local communities: https://intentionalist.com/
- Resources suggested by our speakers:
- Obtain financial and mentoring support for your social enterprise start-up:
- Go deep with our moderator, Phil McKenzie, though his podcast, The Deep Dive: https://www.thedeepdivepod.com/
Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Our fourth Regenerative Economy event focused on the intersection of regeneration, circularity, and careers and featured companies at the forefront of advancing circularity within supply-chains. Participants learned about the ways in which companies are embracing circularity, latest trends in the circular economy landscape, and tips on how to find an impact-focused role. The event covered key trends in circularity, the changing impact job market, and how to take action in your current role.
- Tim Dunn, Director of Environmental Affairs at Best Buy
- Devin Giles, Manager, Renewable Solutions at International Paper
- Paula Luu, Project Director, Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners
- Suzanne Hilker, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at Best Buy
- Asheen Phansey, Co-Founder and CEO of Eleven Radius
Highlights from the Discussion
There are material challenges around circularity, such as the amount of times that paper can be recycled or consumers storing electronics in their home. How are your innovation teams and reverse logistics teams thinking through some of these material resource challenges?
Devin Giles: “Fibers do break down. The fiber might not be turned back into a box, but we can find other beneficial uses for those leftover fibers. Whether it’s using [paper] byproduct to go into cement or other items, there are all these crazy uses for this secondary resource, so finding that beneficial resource and really looking for ways beyond utilizing it for energy or other items.”
What does your company look like five to ten years from now? How are your supply chains different? How are you engaging with your customers? What are your products like?
Tim Dunn: “Circularity can thrive efficiently. The more we take that lens for the business, the more it becomes a part of the culture. When supply chains are restrictive, when moving product can be a challenge, more and more it becomes about efficiency: do more with less. So that’s going to be the next five years.”
What does it mean to be an impact professional? What does that mean to you and how has that evolved over your career?
Paula Luu: “Anyone can be an impact professional. It’s a matter of first becoming a subject matter expert and from there understanding the linkages between different decision points and what impact those decisions have. An impact professional speaks the language of their audiences: it’s about knowing how you can make improvements that ultimately benefit people, planet, and profit and your ability to communicate to the profit opportunities, to the market-competitiveness of the opportunities. That’s really where success and speed emerge.”
How did Net Impact play a role in your careers?
Suzanne Hilker: “Being familiar with Net Impact, attending my first conference, it was a full education for me. The energy, emotion, and inspiration I felt at that first conference–it really started me on my path of understanding that this is where I’m supposed to be, this is what I want to do, these are my people. That has really continued for me and starting the Net Impact chapter at Best Buy, bringing others along on the journey, helping more people to have the tools, the network…it opens a lot of doors and gives you the opportunity to work on things that you might not in your day jobs.
What can YOU do?
- Give some thought to circularity in your own life - are you purchasing and using products with their end life in mind? How are you contributing to a circular economy through your own practices and your support of companies who embrace circularity?
- Identify companies committed to circularity. The Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action program spotlighted two leading companies - Best Buy and International Paper - working to advance circularity. Do the research to find others taking action to replace the traditional “take-make-waste” system of production and resource use with regenerative and circular strategies.
- Extend the life cycle of paper products that you use and support circularity efforts by ensuring you are properly recycling those products.
- Recycle your old and unused electronics. Here are some places you can do so recommended by our speakers and participants:
- Consider pursuing a career related to circularity or examining how you can foster circularity-based approaches within your current company. Search for a new career opportunities and learn more:
- Participate in one of Net Impact’s related programs:
- Check out the books and podcast recommended by our speakers:
- Check out these books recommended by our attendees:
- Looking for professional credentials in sustainability? Check out these organizations and suggested resources:
Building a Regenerative Economy Together: Inspiring Stories and Community Connection
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Our third Regenerative Economy event focused on community connection, spotlighting BIPOC social entrepreneurs in an inclusive dialogue for all to participate in and learn from each other's perspectives and experiences. The Net Impact community is filled with leaders and this highly interactive event gave our community a chance to hear from new voices, meet new people, and connect with speakers and other attendees to build relationships and take action together.
- Daniela Fernandez, Founder & CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Danielle Kayembe, CEO & Founder of Greyfire Impact
- Respect Musiyiwa, Team Leader at CASL Trust and Director at Precision Farming Africa
- Diana Yousef, Founder, and CEO at change:WATER Labs
Highlights from the Discussion:
Daniela Fernandez: "When I graduated from Georgetown, I had started [Sustainable Ocean Alliance] and I was all about building community...My mission was to figure out how to activate young people--how do we bring about solutions in this space? But it was just an idea...it took talking to people, being curious, being vulnerable, being open. I still get the question from folks as to 'Are you a marine biologist? Do you have a doctorate in ocean science?' I'm like, 'No. My background is in economics and government but I do have a passion to save the ocean.' And so I'm a big believer in that you don't have to necessarily have to have studied the topic in-depth to be able to contribute and enabling more people to enter the space from their own perspective is really important and really valuable."
Diana Yousef: "One of the big things that kept circling about my head as I was becoming a professional was, 'What are we doing about water?'...It pretty much underpins everything and yet it seemed to me that there wasn't enough being done to try to figure out how we're trying to keep recycling the water molecules that were given to us...I ended up starting change:WATER...The only thing I had was a stroller, a baby, and an idea. I didn't have money, I didn't have collaborators, I didn't have space, I didn't have any supports, and I didn't even have the technology. But eventually what I was [start change:WATER] and we ended up developing a waste-evaporating toilet that gets rid of 95% waste without the need for external power-plumbing to extend safe sanitation to more people around the world."
Respect Musiyiwa: "I'm motivated and inspired to initiate community solutions because I believe that when working with rural communities we are able to ensure food security in local communities in sub-Saharan Africa...The most important thing that you can do as social leaders and also as organizations are to go back to communities and see communities not as charity cases, but as equally important partners in finding solutions that are facing communities. For me, regenerative social change is about leaving no one behind...and making sure we take these communities and give them important platforms so that they can develop themselves."
Danielle Kayembe: "After I left investment banking...I started to really think about what it meant for all of us to coexist and cohabitate in a space where most of the design and funding was going to a very small group of people. A very small percentage of people is receiving ninety-eight percent of the funding. Only two percent of funding is going to women; about 0.2% of funding is going to women of color. So there's a real disconnect between the world we're all expected to live in and who's allowed to be at the table when designing the world for all of us... It's not just about products and services. It's also about the importance of deconstructing the idea that the discomfort of everyone doesn't matter and that diverse people shouldn't have a seat at the table designing the future of the world."
What Can YOU Do?
- Enroll in the Spring 2022 Climate Ambassadors cohort to become a certified Climate Ambassador in your community.
- Apply for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator through Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Learn more about the Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Learn more about the women-drien economy and GreyFire Impact
- Learn more about precision farming and CASL Trust
- Learn more about change:WATER Labs and their waterless, portable toilet
- Watch Net Impact Chicago's event: Water & You Global Local Essential
Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
What is the catalyst that will activate our generation to end climate change in our lifetime?
Net Impact hosted renowned climate change thought leader, activist, writer, and speaker, Paul Hawken as part of the second event in The Regenerative Economy series. Paul Hawken and PBS journalist, Paul Solman, dove deep into Hawken's book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. The key question for Hawken, and the Net Impact community, were how a more inclusive movement can end climate change and how we can influence and shape inclusion through our actions and intentions.
- Paul Hawken, Author, Executive Director of Regeneration.org
- Paul Solman, PBS News Correspondent
Highlights from the Discussion:
What does regeneration matter to you personally and how do you define it?
Paul Hawken: "Regeneration" is a word that's coming to the fore. People are latching onto the word as fast as they can, which is lovely, but the reason I use the word is when I was writing Drawdown, I wanted to name the goal. "Regeneration" was always intended to be the how-to book. So "Regeneration" has the world's largest listed network of climate solutions and how to get them done. "Regeneration" to me is putting life at the center of every action. Look at everything you do, make, receive, purchase, and ask, "Are you increasing life on Earth or decreasing?"
What motivates you to do this work?
Paul Hawken: I started in the sustainable agriculture business when I was twenty, so my motivation hasn't changed, but in the past year I think we've reached an inflection point and that inflection point is caused by two things. One is the IPCC--the sixth assessment came out with the term "Code Red" attached to it and there was nothing new in it if you've been tracking climate science and the news but there were two new things. For the first time, it was unanimously signed onto by the countries who are part of the UN framework on climate change. That was amazing--it's never happened before. Second, it highlighted that we now know that the prognostications about climate science for the future were incorrect. We now know that when greenhouse gases peak, within a relatively short time warming ceases and we start to get on a pathway to cooling. Prior to that, we were told it doesn't matter if we stop in 2015 that the Earth will continue to warm and it could go on for decades and centuries, which wasn't a great motivation. So I feel like something really shifted--I can hear it in conversations with CEOs, people, friends, NGOs, activists...it was just a shift in the zeitgeist of the world that happened in the past few weeks.
What can YOU do?
- Check out the science fiction author, Kim Stanley Robinson, for Paul Hawken's favorite solutions for climate change
- If you have kids, "take them outside and have the experience of how mysterious, miraculous, and amazing life is and how it works. So that they, without realizing it, fall in love--because we protect what we love."
- Get in touch with that sensibility that we all have that's about kindness, compassion, and caring...What regeneration offers us is the capacity and ability to come home. When we come home in ourselves, then we look at the world around us and see the problems: the perfidy, the corruption, beauty, joy, and misunderstanding--we see it as a whole; we see the system, and we see ourselves within it. Within it, we then can understand, "Who can I be? What can I be in the systems I see that are so beautifully complex and troubled in a way that is actually a kindness to the world?"
What can you do through Net Impact?
- Join one of our programs to collaborate with like-minded individuals striving to make the world a better place: Net Impact Programs
- Buy Paul Hawken's book
- Learn more about Axo's role in regenerative food systems
- Resources shared by our participants
- Get involved with regenerative organizations and communities
- Learn more about our relationship with the planet
- Breaking Boundaries by Johan Rockstrom and Owen Gaffney
- Breaking Boundaries: The Science of our Planet
- Netflix documentary with David Attenborough
- Learn more about food systems: Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
- Learn more about us humans: Human: The World Within
Building a Regenerative Economy: How Green Swans Can Achieve Impact at Scale
August 31, 2021
Our first event in the Regenerative Economy series featured John Elkington, author of Green Swans: The coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, and a next-generation Green Swan innovator, Gary Sheng, founder of Civics Unplugged.
In a wolf thick with challenges, the possibility of a regenerative economy - one that recognizes that people, planetary resources, and systems are interdependent - is reason for optimism. in particular, "green Swans" - innovations that deliver exponential progress in the form of economic, social, and environmental wealth creation - was the focus of this initial conversation.
- John Elkington, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Volans Ventures
- Gary Sheng, Chief Operating Officer of Civics Unplugged
Highlights of the Discussion:
What does regeneration mean to you personally and how do you define it?
John Elkington: Ever so often a big new theme comes along: sustainability, back in the day, circular economy, shared value. Now [it's] regeneration and it's not random, this sequence of shifts... I've been involved in the sustainability movement for a very long time and I think one of the problems, when these [themes] change agendas mainstream, is they get diluted because everyone has their own interests. They bend the meaning, they bend the language based on where they happen to be at the time. I think regeneration is harder to do that with; it's less soft, in a way, as a concept.
What was the spark that got you interested in social impact?
Gary Sheng: I didn't consider myself civically-minded at all until 2016. A lot happened that year, not just in the U.S. but in the world. What I realized was that unlike [what] some political theorists said, we weren't at the end of history. We weren't heading toward a world that was more equitable, more democratic, more humane - and that really startled me. All during college, the default was landing jobs or internships that maximized your starting salary. In 2016, I started to question that very strong, default paradigm. It took me many years to take the leap to co-found Civics Unplugged, but during those years, I recognized we had many mutually exacerbated crises that we're facing as a global community. We're only going to survive if we do something about the leadership crisis that is underlying all of it. If we don't level up our ability to lead as individuals and produce better leaders that understand regeneration, our future is bleak.
What have been some of your blind spots and how have you been able to learn from them?
John Elkington: Thinking back, there will have been some blind spots...Blind spots come in so many different ways. Some of them you obsess around climate change and you miss human rights or corruption or different parts of the agenda. One of the challenges for us all and one of the benefits of the ESG sort of framing is that we have to think in multiple dimensions and integrate them on the backend.
What can YOU do?
- Be intentional about slowing down, pausing, and reflecting
- Making decisions aligning with our values and the world we want to create is supported by self-reflection.
- Check out HBR's "Why You Should Make Time for Self Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It)
- Regeneration only works if you have a full view of the system
- Take the time to map out the system you're in and the role you're playing
- How might you play a more regenerative role for the system you're in?
- Reference these systems mapping links:
- Explore Green Swans Observatory
- Join the Green Swans Book Club
- Sign up for the Green Swans newsletter, which will include CTAs for how to collaborate!
- Buy the book:
- Get involved with Civics Unplugged: https://www.civicsunplugged.org/