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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When Big Is Beautiful

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Session Description

A conversation between panellists and delegates will explore how social ventures and social entrepreneurs can create great impact using a variety of different techniques, from replication to changes in society’s beliefs and norms.

When | Where

10:00 - 12:00 Wednesday, March 28

Session leaders

  • Jim Fruchterman Speaker
    Founder and CEO, Benetech
    Jim Fruchterman is the founder and CEO of Benetech, a Silicon Valley nonprofit technology company that develops software applications to address unmet needs of users in the social sector. He is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his work as a pioneering social entrepreneur, including the MacArthur Fellowship, Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Migel Medal—the highest honor in the blindness field—from the American Fdn for the Blind. A Caltech-trained engineer, Jim’s first social enterprise idea was a machine that recognizes words and uses software to read those words aloud to people who are blind. In 1989—after a stint as a rocket scientist and after creating two successful for-profit Silicon Valley companies—he founded Benetech to actually build reading machines. Not only did these tools give blind users the freedom to read independently, they proved critical to their social inclusion and enabled them to expand their educational and employment opportunities. This impact inspired Jim to broaden Benetech’s mission to empower people to improve their lives by leveraging scalable technological applications. Since then, Benetech’s work has grown to touch thousands of organizations and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Benetech’s suite of tools and services has transformed the ways in which people with disabilities such as dyslexia and vision impairment access printed information, at-risk human rights defenders safely document abuse, and environmental practitioners protect species and ecosystems. Today, through Benetech Labs, its innovation arm, Benetech explores new software-for-good ideas that have the potential to make life better for millions. Through his work with Benetech and as a trailblazer in the field of social entrepreneurship, Jim continues to advance his vision of a world in which the benefits of technology reach all of humanity, not just the wealthiest and most able five
  • Peace Ambassador, Search for Common Ground
    Susan Collin Marks, Search for Common Ground’s Peace Ambassador, is an internationally renowned peacemaker and peacebuilder. For nearly three decades, she has worked in some of the most conflictual places on the planet, including mediating in the heart of her native South Africa’s transition from apartheid, facilitating ongoing dialogue in the Middle East, and establishing peacebuilding programs throughout Africa. In recent years she has focused on coaching high level political, institutional and civil society leaders worldwide, encouraging them find common humanity with their opponents. In September 2014, she stepped aside after 20 years as senior vice president of Search for Common Ground, and moved from Washington DC to Europe. Her book, Watching the Wind: conflict resolution during South Africa’s transition to democracy, USIP 2000, captures the compelling story of how peace can be built even in the most intractable conflict. She holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town. Honors include an Honorary Doctorate from the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica, Jennings Randolph Peace Fellowship at the United States Institute for Peace, Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, President Jimmy Carter’s Waging Peace Award, Marvin Johnson Diversity Award, Association for Conflict Resolution, Exemplary Leadership Award from the University of Pittsburgh, and the Institute for Noetic Science’s Creative Altruism Award. She speaks, teaches, coaches, mentors, writes, facilitates, and supports peace processes and conflict resolution programs internationally. She holds a vision of a world of peace and dignity for all. She believes that our common humanity binds us together more than our differences divide us. She works to make it so.