I work at the intersection of global innovation, foresight, social change and resilience.
A central thrust of my work has been how to harness the power of networks for collaborative discovery, innovation and change. I also spend much of my time advancing a global dialogue on resilience – how to help people and systems persist, recover and thrive amid disruption.
For several years, my colleague Ann Marie Healy and I traveled from the coral reefs of Palau to the back streets of Palestine exploring the dynamics of resilience in many contexts. The results are encapsulated in Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, published by Simon and Schuster in the U.S., and in many other languages and territories around the world.
Since then, my resilience work has focused on bringing together coalitions of interested practitioners and leaders from many related fields, developing new, interlocking strategies for personal, urban, community, climate, and organizational resilience.
From 2003-2014, I was the primary creative and curatorial force behind PopTech, a renowned innovation and social change network. The organization brings together a community of innovators from many different fields — artists, scientists, technologists, social change agents, entreprenuers, and unconventional ‘wierdos’ — to share ideas and to work on new approaches to some of the world’s toughest problems. PopTech identifies and trains some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet, doing things you cannot believe humanity is up to. PopTech helps them share breakthrough ideas and to work together on truly world-changing projects, doing stuff nobody had ever tried before, in areas like financial innovation and inclusion, data science and community resilience, mobile health, climate adaptation, urban resilience and violence cessation. Once a year the organization convenes much-beloved gatherings of these innovators on the coast of Maine.
In addition to the above, I’ve been honored to serve as a Fellow of the National Geographic Society, an organization I have loved since I was a child. I also strategically advise, and speak regularly to a wide array of leading companies, governmental organization, NGOs, startups and cultural and civil society groups. I have advised senior leadership teams at companies including GE, PwC, Nike and Facebook. I serve on the Boards of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (a vanguard contemporary performing arts center), the Garrison Institute (a forefront non-sectarian organization exploring the intersection of contemplative practice and engaged action in the world) and Blurb (a breakthrough personal publishing platform). I serve as an advisor to PlanetLabs (a revolutionary Earth-imaging company), DataKind, which is bringing data science to the social sector, and The Workshop School, a transformational experiment in what a public high school can be, taking place in Philadelphia — among many others.
I’m honored that my work and ideas are sometimes covered in the media, and humbled to have been recognized in places like Vanity Fair’s “Next Establishment” to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of “Innovators to Watch“.
I live in Brooklyn, NY with my family, who, every day, teach me a little more about love.
In my office is this poster, by the talented Joey Roth. I aspire to the third category.