2013 - Social Innovation: Making an impact one person at a time

Originally published on March 11th, 2013 by Ivey Public Affairs

Barry Slauenwhite, President and CEO of Compassion Canada, discusses his organization’s focus. Photo by Melissa Leithwood

Barry Slauenwhite, President and CEO of Compassion Canada, discusses his organization’s focus. Photo by Melissa Leithwood

Helping with basic needs such as food and housing to more advanced skills such as computer literacy, today’s socially-focused organizations are creating better communities.

And those attending the 4th Annual Social Innovation @ Ivey forum got a sampling of what such organizations have to offer and why it matters. The forum focused on the role of leaders in implementing groundbreaking social innovations. It was co-hosted by Ivey’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value and its Sustainability Certificate Program, the Ivey Sustainability Club and Ivey Connects.

The keynote event was a presentation from Barry Slauenwhite, President and CEO ofCompassion Canada, a London-based organization that works with churches in 26 countries to help with child development.

Another highlight of the day was a fireside chat with Neil Hetherington, EMBA ’13, CEO at Habitat for Humanity, New York City. He pointed out that his organization is not only focused on building homes for families in need, but on building communities.

“Good homes equal good communities,” he said. “It’s not so much about houses anymore. My audacious goals are now about impact.”

There was also a panel session and workshops with representatives from three socially-focused organizations: Positive Impact Law GroupYouth Empowering Parentsand Canadian Roots Exchange. Positive Impact Law Group provides legal counsel for social entrepreneurs. Canadian Roots Exchange is a federal not-for-profit that offers education and exchange programs to raise awareness of Indigenous communities. Youth Empowering Parents is an award-winning program whereby children teach their parents English and computer literacy skills.

Natalie McFarlane, founder of Positive Impact Law Group, said social innovation is about “anchoring yourself in the why,” while Vibhor Garg, Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange, discussed how social change happens one person at a time.

“One person can change a whole community,” he said.

Madhur Choudhary of Marketwire and Ivey PhD Candidate Melissa Leithwood also led a workshop on Social Media for Social Good.

Representatives from Youth Opportunities Unlimited London and Meals on Wheels also discussed how the two organizations partnered to provide healthy meals to seniors and adults with disabilities in London. Meals are prepared by youth employed in a skills training program in food preparation and services and brought to Meals on Wheels volunteers who hand-deliver them to those in need.

They said it’s a great example of how alliances between not-for-profits can make communities stronger.

Angel Rodriguez, a Human Resources Administrator at Williams Fresh Café who attended the event, said he gained valuable knowledge that he can use to help his community.

For more on the event, please see Facebook video or #iveysi on Twitter.