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Storytelling Has the Power to Change Lives

Thursday, Mar 17, 2016 Category Education

​A Message from Managing Director David B. Smith

​Storytelling can convey a message, influence listeners, and make an impact. Stories stay with us, inform our future, and honor our past. When asked about my own stories, I gravitate toward those that position my past as the roadmap to my present.

When I look at what brought me to my work at the Presidio Institute today, I think of my father who served for many years at the Presidio of San Francisco alongside other dedicated servicemen and women. I'm pretty sure this early exposure to military life as the son of a visionary, disciplined Army officer shaped my present day values, and contributed to my commitment to service and positive social change through innovative forms of leadership. 

While I could've explored this commitment at any number of think tanks or academies throughout the country​or even followed in his shoes of military service—it's serendipitous that today I drive leadership initiatives at the very place that inspired my father so many years ago.   

That's a story I never get tired of telling.

When my father passed away in 2009, my siblings and I chose to honor his memory by establishing the Major George A. Smith Memorial Fund through the National Conference on Citizenship, and bestowing what we call the "HOOAH! Award." The "HOOAH!" – military slang for "an affirmative response to the challenge that lies ahead" – is presented annually to individuals who make a significant, positive impact on the lives of military veterans and their communities.

One such awardee is Chris Marvin, a Presidio Institute Fellow alumni, veteran, and master storyteller.  In this issue of Reveille, he shares stories of reaching across sectors to expand one's mindset and empathetic nature to create lasting impact in the lives of others. To truly measure the impact of our programs, we need look no further than people like Chris, and other alumni, partners, and our 2016 Presidio Institute Fellows and listen to the stories of success they tell.

You'll hear from Alison Gold, our Manager of Leadership Education at the Presidio Institute, who shares her newfound observations on cross sector leadership; Lawrence Greenspan who pulls back the curtain on the "Drucker Playbook;" and a first-hand account of "sector exploration​" from Leaderosity alum, Ivellisse Morales. We also have one of our "Salon Features," the video, Social Movements for Good with Derrick Feldmann, and much more.

We invite you to become part of the narrative by taking part in one of our programs, or contacting us to participate in the next issue of Reveille and share your story of successful cross sector collaboration.

Your storytelling and problem-solving partner,

David B. Smith


David B. Smith is the Managing Director of the Presidio Institute, and formerly the Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship and 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