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A Look Back at Social Impact Week: Leading for Good

Social Impact Week

Yale School of Management’s Net Impact chapter, in close collaboration with a wide array of social impact-oriented student clubs and organizations on campus, hosted its second annual Social Impact Week from November 29th to December 8th, 2022. Social Impact Week started as a way to actively promote SOM’s mission of Business & Society. This year’s theme was Leading for Good, and students were treated to myriad activities and events aimed at exploring the role of MBAs in promoting “good” leadership in their careers and beyond.

The festivities kicked-off with a session on effective altruism and charitable giving led by Jack Lewars, Executive Director for One for the World. One for the World is a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing charitable giving by encouraging individuals to donate at least 1% of their income to nonprofit partners that are on the ground fighting extreme poverty through cost-effective interventions. One for the World partners with GiveWell to evaluate their nonprofit partners and ensure maximal impact. Many SOM students have since signed up for the 1% Pledge as a way to meaningfully practice the week’s theme of Leading for Good.

The week continued with a diverse and exciting array of speakers. Adda Faye, CFO of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, joined remotely from Geneva to discuss the major challenges and opportunities facing global health financing around the world. In addition to shedding light on grant-making, innovative financing models, and risk mitigation techniques, Faye provided students with a glimpse into career paths in which finance expertise and social impact work can coalesce.

SOM alum Seth Goldman (‘95), co-founder of Honest Tea, co-founder of Eat the Change, and executive chairman of Beyond Meat, returned to campus to discuss his excitement about the future of healthy plant-based foods. Highlighting components of this entrepreneurial journey, from SOM to The Honest Company to his newly launched “Just Ice Tea,” Goldman challenged SOM students to be the next generation of leaders solving complex global challenges. His advice to students: always embed mission in products, learn how to multitask, build your toolkit beyond your strengths. (See the related article.)

Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and former chair of the Democratic National Committee, joined SOM students to discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of leading for good in the public sector. “Leadership is not about posing,” he said, “it’s about doing the right thing - you need to make compromises, but you also need to ask yourself if they are pushing towards something important.”

Students were treated to a documentary screening and Q&A with Margo Walsh, founder of MaineWorks. MaineWorks provides transitional employment to people recovering from substance abuse disorders and people with felony convictions. Her inspirational story and commitment to the mission of MaineWorks resonated deeply with all who attended.

SOM alum Arpita Bhattacharyya (‘16) led a Social Impact Lab session focused on her path to the Department of Energy and the future of the climate industry. Her plea to students was simple. “We have money. We have goals. But implementing them will have trade-offs. We need your brains.”

Rounding out the week of incredible speakers were David Ryan Polgar, Founder of All Tech is Human, who led a conversation on the responsible tech movement and our role in building it, and Stephanie Mercier, Director for Impact Investing at the Corporation for Supportive Housing, who proposed innovative financing models for affordable housing projects.

Student social entrepreneurs were on full display during the week. Banofi Leather, an alternative leather company founded by Yale School of the Environment student Jinali Mody, supplied the week’s swag: notebooks bound in a leather alternative made from banana crop waste. The notebooks were a hit amongst Social Impact week participants. Not only do they help reduce reliance on animal-based products, but they look and feel like real leather. SOM is honored to have placed the first-ever purchase order with Banofi.

Other favorite moments from the week included a school wide clothing swap aimed at reducing clothing waste and reinvigorating students’ wardrobes, a book swap hosted by the Education Club, and various sustainable food tastings and give-aways.