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To the Skoll World Forum!

During the week of April 3rd to 7th, I had the privilege of attending the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford. Every year around this time, The Skoll Foundation puts on this forum, meant to be the world’s largest gathering of social entrepreneurs. Innovators from a spectrum of countries come to hear influential speakers, network with fellow entrepreneurs, and enjoy the creative environment that the forum invites. It was in this context that I was able to scurry from session to session, hearing the stories and advice of individuals who work in the same fields as Parker Clay. It was the perfect environment to share Parker Clay’s story and work with the many people I had the pleasure to talk to. Being a relatively small fish in a big pond, the forum was a wonderful opportunity to feed off the wisdom of successful innovators and learn from those who had truly experienced the failures and successes that social entrepreneurs are bound to face. The first night of the forum began with a much-hyped opening plenary that celebrated the spirit of social change and innovation. High profile figures from Bono to the president of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Kim, spoke and praised the struggle to make meaningful and impactful change in the world. They encouraged us to take full advantage of the diverse gathering of speakers and sessions before us. I took this to heart. From sessions on cross-the-aisle dialogue, business as a catalyst for poverty alleviation, virtual reality, and leading mass movements for positive change, the Skoll forum proved a rich resource for direct, optimistic, and practical advice on impacting the world. Abby Disney, Walt Disney’s grandniece now documentarian, explained the deep friendship she developed from her conversation and kinship with a conservative, far right evangelical pastor. Two Burundian journalists, one Hutu and the other Tutsi, discussed their work together—building peace through a cross-ethnic public radio station. The president of the US African Development agency, CD Glin, discussed navigating the foundation’s mission in light of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Innovators in virtual reality technology discussed the potential for new technological experiences that could mobilize people to make change in the world. The president of Coca-Cola’s women empowerment branch was interviewed on the impact and upward opportunity that her organization’s work actually provides to women in developing countries. I left the forum with my stock of Parker Clay-related literature depleted, my journal full of notes, and my mind racing. If anything, the diversity of speakers left me slightly overwhelmed yet hopeful about the many avenues of change growing through the world. The forum painted a lasting picture of an interconnected, mindful world with each and everyone contributing his or her own skills, big and small, to create enduring, sustainable opportunity in which everyone can thrive.


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