David B. Smith, Managing Director, Presidio
Building a new way to solve the challenges
of our time
A century of innovation has transformed almost every part of
the human experience. It has also created a mind-bending set
of complex challenges. Increasingly, there is a call from
all levels of society to create solutions that are
comprehensive and sustainable.
The Presidio Institute supports the emergence of new ways to
address the major social challenges of our time. The issues
we face are too large in scope for any one part of our
society to effectively tackle alone. In fact, they're too
great for anything other than integrated, cooperative effort
across all parts of society. We believe that it is only with
the active collaboration of corporate, non-profit, and
government organizations that we can begin to make
significant impact on the myriad of social issues before us.
Research on organizational trends confirms the need for such
cross sector solutions.
According to 2012 and 2013 research
conducted by Civic50,
an initiative that identifies the fifty most
community-minded companies in the nation, cross sector
partnership is a growing phenomenon nationwide. Nearly 70
percent of companies involved in community engagement report
collaboration with the non-profit sector using the skills of
their workforce rather than just giving away their financial
resources. Eighty-six percent of these companies
report that such engagements have a positive impact on their
bottom line. And an overwhelming 96 percent say they
evaluate their business program based on the impact of their
community engagement programs, signifying the growing
reality that supporting social change is a core value in the
We have seen a similar trend in the public sector. The
economic recovery of the past few years has spurred
government to partner with the business and social sectors
to solve community challenges more collaboratively.
We're heartened that the emergence of such values is growing.
It is fertile ground from which to approach the bottom-line
question we seek to answer: how do we shift
sector-specific cultures and priorities towards working
together for lasting change?
We believe the answer lies in developing a strong pipeline of
cross sector leaders – people with the skills to lead the
way to solutions serving both sector-specific priorities, in
addition to the greater good for all.
To address this, the Presidio
Institute has launched the Presidio
Institute Fellows program in April 2014, an
action-oriented fellowship that equips high-potential
executive leaders from all sectors with the skills,
networks, and confidence required to apply a cross sector
approach to their core initiatives.
To broaden our reach, we partnered with other leading
organizations that also explore how best to leverage
collective effort, like theWhite
House Office of Social Innovation and Civic
Participation, McKinsey & Co, the U.S. Office of Personnel
The twenty-four Fellows in our inaugural class each entered
with an organizational challenge they felt would be best
addressed through cross sector engagement. With issues
ranging from investing in the educational and career
prospects of young adults; re-integrating veterans returning
from service abroad; and advocating for new vaccines to
fight drug-resistant disease, our fellows represent the
diversity of good work that is happening in the world today.
The year-long Fellowship is designed to help participants
solve these challenges within their organizations and
communities. Fellows engage in intensive leadership
development experiences that focus on creative
problem-solving, building self-awareness about personal
leadership styles, and honing techniques to develop shared
goals that encompass multiple agendas.
The elevation of key skillsets and network opportunities
within the program are supported by our relationships with
some of the most innovative organizations in the world:
Google, Tesla, White House agencies, Year Up, United Way,
Living Cities, Gap Inc., the cities of San Francisco and New
York, and more. Fellows meet with senior leaders within
these organizations to learn, teach, and share best
practices about the remarkable initiatives that are underway
in cross sector leadership development.
Together, we're widening our circle to create an ecosystem
that will have the synergy and momentum to take us to a new
place in our ability to meet the challenges of our time.
Please join us in the virtual space of this new
newsletter, Reveille, as we further our
mission by hearing from our partners and fellows on their
ground-breaking work. We hope you will learn from their
stories as they push the envelope on effective practices
toward social change. We also invite you to be part of this
dialogue, to lend your stories of success and failure, and
to help build this movement together.
Your partner in forging new ground,
David B. Smith
Smith is the Managing Director of the
Presidio Institute, and formerly the Executive Director
of the National
Conference on Citizenship andMobilize.org.
Building on the Presidio's legacy of service and
public-private partnerships, the Presidio Institute
provides transformational experiences that inspire,
encourage, and empower leaders to make measurable,
positive impact in their communities. More information
about the Presidio Institute Fellowship program can be
found at http://institute.presidio.gov.