May 2011: President’s Corner

I had the opportunity to meet with two key members of Net Impact last week — Mark Albion and Liz Maw.  Mark is the Founder of Net Impact, and Liz is the Executive Director of the Net Impact Organization.  We spoke about what Net Impact is up to globally and nationally, but importantly, spent time talking about the local chapters and what the professional chapters are doing.  One of the most important things that I took away from this conversation was that Net Impact chapters, regardless of type (professional, MBA or undergrad), size, or city have one thing in common: community.  Community is the resounding and lasting “benefit” of being an active member of this group.  A place for like-minded individuals to share and test ideas, grow together and support each other in making a positive impact in businesses of all shapes and sizes.

With community top of mind, I’d like to share with you an opportunity to join your community for an amazing event this month and to highlight the great, good work of a member of Net Impact Boston.  But first, I want to share some news.

Emile Chin-Dickey, a staple on the Net Impact Boston Team over the years and our most dedicated Director of the Board Fellows Program has moved on.  He is off to Cornell to complete his MBA after spending a summer in France with family and friends. I want to thank Emile so very much for his commitment to the program he developed, for being a trusted partner on the team and for sharing his gifts, generosity and laughter with the overall NIB community.  Emile has been grooming his successors for some months, and I am very happy to announce that Maura Hodge and Kevin Greer will be spearheading this program going forward.  Thanks Guys!

On May 12th, our chapter will be co-hosting an event, “A Conversation with Bill Drayton” with the Simmons MBA chapter.  Bill is a pioneer and industry leader in the field of Social Enterprise.  Not coincidentally, this month I would also like to highlight the work of one of our members, Siiri Morley of the social enterprise Prosperity Candle.  Siiri was generous enough to allow me to interview her for a brief Q & A to share with you.  Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Q:  We have an event coming up in May where Ashoka Founder Bill Drayton is speaking.  What do you know of him and his work?

I respect him deeply and see him as one of the people making social enterprise a field of its own. When I first started learning about the field, I didn’t think I was a social entrepreneur.  I think this is really interesting.  Before Bill’s work, people like me felt they didn’t belong, like they didn’t have a field.  We weren’t exactly doing for-profit or non-profit work, but were using business tools and creating social/societal impact.

When I was younger I was often critiqued because my interests were so broad.  I’d love to go back to those people now and show them how these diverse interests of mine have
come together in an important way.  Leaders like Bill Drayton have helped me recognize that there’s a community focused on social enterprise – a community to identify with and get help and resources from.  Social enterprise goes beyond the immediate impact in one community.

Bill Drayton leads the field.  Our team fantasizes about being one of the Ashoka Fellows.  That would be incredible to be a part of.  And I’ve seen him speak, he’s fantastic.

Q:  Can you define the field of social enterprise?

Fascinating question because every group has a different definition.  Social Enterprise is an approach to creating social change by applying business tools and perspectives. There’s a focus on financial sustainability — more on generating impact and less on fundraising.  The field addresses needs that have existed for long time, but does so in a more sustainable and replicable way.  I like the way Bill has framed it — this is about sharing ideas so that social entrepreneurs can address immediate needs, but can do so with replication and scale.

Please click here to read the full interview with Siiri and join us on May 12th to meet Siiri in person and learn more about Social Enterprise.

Enjoy May.

Monica Sullivan
2011 Net Impact Boston President

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