Elevating Impact Summit 2014 & Finding your Social Innovation Path

On 5/9/14, I conducted an interview with Abby Chroman. She works with Impact Entrepreneurs helping to communicate great ideas, launch PSU’s online certificate in The Business of Social Innovation, and design the 2014 Elevating Impact Summit happening in Portland on 6/20/14.  Before joining PSU Abby worked for five years with Ashoka, where she helped select and connect leading social entrepreneurs in the US, and created an online space for social entrepreneurs to collaborate around the world.

Picture from EIS 2013

Tell us about EIS 2014

Around the world pragmatic, creative innovators are designing unprecedented solutions to pressing social and environmental issues and creating value for their companies, communities, and society at large. The Elevating Impact Summit is put on by Portland State University’s Impact Entrepreneurs and celebrates these new approaches to generating social and environmental impact across business, social, public, and academic sectors.

This year’s Elevating Impact program includes keynote addresses from globally renowned social entrepreneurs Kat Taylor, Founder of One PacificCoast Bank, Marc Freedman, Founder of Encore.org, and Victoria Hale, Founder of Medicines 360, along with lively panel discussions on impact funding, encore careers, and communities in transition. The event also hosts pitches from the region’s rising social innovators, the annual Impact Awards, and authentic first-person stories of resilience. The one-day gathering in beautiful Portland, OR attracts around 400 participants each year.

What is a social innovation?

Social innovations are creative new ideas and approaches to solving social and environmental challenges around the world – from maternal health to disaster preparedness and from financial systems reform to international conflict resolution. Social innovation takes place in and across traditional sectors and both within existing institutions and by entrepreneurial change leaders forging brand new systems and organizations.

Why are you interested in social innovation?

This is kind of new as a “field”. It’s not business, non-profit, or public sector, and it’s not limited to people with a certain skill set. I think I’m attracted to social innovation because in it there are pathways for anyone to participate in positive social change. Almost everyone I know has an issue they care about. What if they could create a life where they contributed to improving the world by addressing the issue they care most about?  I know business executives who are applying their acumen and expertise to help grow social enterprises (Look at Ashoka’s ASN program), young people who are taking charge and solving problems around them (see Peace First) and older people who are giving back with amazing new ideas (Elevating Impact keynote speaker Marc Freedman is pioneering this idea). Systems are emerging in which everyone has something to offer. Ecoapprentice, for example, matches crowdsourced knowledge with businesses looking for sustainable solutions. I’m optimistic. Creative individuals and teams are transforming industries around the world, and systems as we know them. It makes me excited for our future.

Impact Entrepreneurs is the program hosting EIS 2014; what is Impact Entrepreneurs?

Impact Entrepreneurs is a program of Portland State University (PSU) that was founded in 2010 in the PSU School of Business Administration. We are committed to fostering economic, social, and ecological prosperity through entrepreneurial action. We work with partners locally and globally to deliver initiatives that strengthen organizations, build entrepreneurial impact-focused leaders, and catalyze social innovation. Along with a group of cross-campus collaborators, we are also a part of the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus consortium, a select group of institutions of higher education that demonstrate commitment and cutting-edge approaches to galvanizing solutions to major human and environmental challenges.

DISCOUNT! Want to attend EIS 2014? The full day event, including lunch and reception, is just $50 if you register before 5/20 with the discount code: CC_ECOA.

Interested in becoming a social entrepreneur? Start by proposing an EcoSolution to any of our challenges. Membership to EcoApprentice is free. We look forward to attending EIS 2014!