More than 100 alumni and other members of the Wesleyan community attended the Social Impact Summit, Nov. 13-14, on campus. The summit was sponsored by the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the seminar supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues. The event included keynote speakers with TED-style talks on the theme “The Change I Want to See,” panel discussions, and workshops, as well as networking opportunities.
“Social impact and entrepreneurship are deeply embedded in Wesleyan culture, and our students and alumni are known for creating significant change in the world,” said Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life; and Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Center for Community Partnerships also provided welcoming remarks.
Keynote speakers offering TED-style remarks in Memorial Chapel, which were open to the public. They included Kirk Adams ’73 P’13, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, who leads the work of SEIU Healthcare; Irma Gonzalez, the principal of Zoen, specializing in change and transition management in support of social justice advocacy; Jessica Posner Odede ’09 chief operating officer and co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities; and Kennedy Odede ’12, the CEO and co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).
In their talks, Adams spoke on making voting “accessible, universal, and familiar,” calling for the effort to “push this country to be what it should be.” Gonzalez highlighted the qualities of an equitable society—one where our success would not be predetermined by birth and skin color. “How do we harness technology in the service of social justice?” she asked.