Amplify Blog

Insights and ideas directly from New Profit

July 11, 2017

"I’ve met several people recently who had something in common. All were building collaborations to address big problems. All were experiencing genuine success. Yet all felt somehow "odd" because the way they were addressing the problem did not fit the typical nonprofit-leader mold. To each of them, I’ve said the same thing: There’s a name for people like you, and it’s "system entrepreneur." - Jeff Walker

For the past several years, Jeff Walker, New Profit's Board Chair, has been reflecting on the critical role of a new kind of entrepreneur in driving true systemic change. His latest article featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, "How a New Breed of Nonprofit Leader is Driving Social Change," discusses system entrepreneurs, a term that "refers to the idea that leaders need a broader set of characteristics and skills beyond simply organization- and program-building to truly move the needle on big social challenges." In this piece, Walker explores the key traits and habits of system entrepreneurs, and highlights leading entrepreneurs who are working to solve complex social problems with systemic, collaborative approaches.

In the article, Walker spotlights Vanessa Kirsch, New Profit's founder and CEO, on her career in system entrepreneurship. In the early 1990s, Kirsch co-founded Public Allies, where she connected government, business, and nonprofit partners to support bringing young people into public service. Kirsch's early lessons learned as a system entrepreneur led her to structure New Profit to focus on driving systems change, using all of the levers available to surround a problem with solutions, such as innovative programs, policy advocacy, network building, and public awareness. Together, Walker and Kirsch are collaborating with donors and philanthropic partners to think about how we can support system entrepreneurship to "get the impact they want at the scale the world needs."

Click here to read the full piece.

For more of Jeff Walker's work, click here.


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