The Social Innovation Summit is the Other UN Changing the World

These are not ordinary do-gooders – they are aligned with business objectives, strategies, customer expectations, and needs and secure partnerships that reflect outcomes.

The Social Innovation Summit is a secret gem in corporate social responsibility, purpose, social impact, and cause-related efforts that unite mega companies, inspired entrepreneurs, and government agencies. If this year’s gathering is any indication of the past Summits and future conclaves, it ranks up alongside Aspen and Milken. It offers a taste of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The schedule for the two-day gathering, which attracts 1,200 people, is jam-packed with sessions that range from an overflowing mainstage room to roundtables featuring four to five panelists who are at the top of their fields and could occupy a mainstage and dynamic, edgy topics breakout.

The expected question from someone who has not attended a “Summit” is, do the conversations lead to outcomes? The short answer is “Yes.”  The longer answer is found in the volume of partnerships among corporate attendees in forming coalitions and consortiums that draw in not-for-profit attendees. In many situations, company executives recognized that to “make things happen,” collaboration is required with third parties dedicated to a common concern. 

Aside from the set program, plenty is happening during the coffee and lunch breaks.  Attendees rub shoulders with leaders such as Candace Dixon from Command Shift, a national consortium advocating for strategies that inspire the advancement of young women of color in tech careers; Laura Wlling, Esq from Goodwill Industries International, whose societal contributions encompass a vast range of services – from employment training to supporting sustainable communities that reduce landfill and offer affordable consumer goods to struggling households.  

There are also incredibly compelling stories that magically appear over lunch. One young woman who will be a national inspirational speaker, Aliscia Brorman, spent her childhood shuttling from foster home to foster home. Foster Love sponsored Aliscia to attend the Social Innovation Summit. As an attendee, she mesmerized her lunch table with her journey of overcoming challenge after challenge. Foster Love arranged for Aliscia to complete a college degree.  Here’s an interview that traces her journey from an abandoned child to a societal role model:

Who is Behind the Social Innovation Summit

Landmark Ventures is the magic behind the Social Innovation Curtain.  An investment banker and strategic consultancy, Zeev Klein, chief executive officer, expresses his passion for the Summit, calling it “The organization’s contribution to conversations that can change society for the better.” Unlike other curators and high-tier meetings, Klein can be seen among attendees, usually chatting and seeking to help people make connections.  He does not step to the main stage for applause.  Gratification comes from advancing the Summit’s mission.

Photo Credit: Medika Life: Landmark Ventures CEO Zeev Klein, speaks with colleague Nick Fontova

Klein recalls that the original Summit meetings were hosted by the United Nations and even once held in the General Assembly room.  He and his senior team attend the Summit looking to introduce and make connections among the attendees, including many significant health, consumer, and high-tech manufacturing companies with edgy start-ups and NGOs.

Waves of Inspiring Leaders and Stories

Story after story unfolds at the Summit.  For example, with nearly one billion people living without access to reliable electricity, families in poverty spend up to 30 percent of their income to light their homes.  They sacrifice food, medicine, and education to function in the dark. Watts of Love Founder Nancy Economou is equipping people with the resources they need to end the cycles of poverty with a simple, sustainable solution that has an immediate impact.

Through a financial literacy program combined with a patented solar light, Watts of Love empowers women and families and puts them on a path to economic sustainability.

“I am invigorated by the energy and enthusiasm of the Social Innovation Summit and feel privileged to be part of the conversation. Surrounded by others committed to promoting solutions to social challenges, we are reminded of our shared responsibility to be catalysts for positive social change, says Economou. “The Summit’s focus on fostering collaboration, sharing best practices, and highlighting innovative approaches to creating positive social impact is truly inspiring.”

Learn more here about Watts of Love:

Post-COVID lockdowns, accelerated online shopping continues, and a new ” wardrobing ” trend is growing. E-commerce customers purchase multiple clothing items to return most items after trying them on at home. Retail returns doubled from 8% in 2019 to 16% in 2022, generating 24 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions in 2022 alone. Carbon emissions are linked to significant environmental issues and public health challenges. 

An advanced live virtual try-on (LVTO) technology platform, GEENEE, serves major fashion brands, behemoth SHEIN, luxury eyewear conglomerate Luxottica, and global beauty brands such as L’ORÉAL to reduce emission-producing product returns.  GEENEE tackles the fragmented device ecosystem dilemma, where mobile phones, laptops, and desktops have different camera modules with varying focal lengths and specs.  Data show that 40% of product returns are due to the customer’s dissatisfaction with the product’s look and style.

After trying GEENEE’s product firsthand, I saw how fast products instantly appear and how far the tech has evolved since pockets of early adopter brands introduced the public to online VTO experiences nearly a decade ago.    

Ultimately, GEENEE CEO Cory Grenier states, “Whatever the technical tools applied—AR, AI, ML or others—these are just features, not products. GEENEE’s product and service is ‘personalization.’ Personalized product experiences speak to customers because people are served products that align recommendations with their expectations, leverage purchase history, save time, and eliminate frustration. Personalization can also help make our environment healthier by reducing rampant returns.”   

Partnerships Are the Currency of Success at the Social Innovation Summit

Curt Ellis, Co-Founder and co-CEO of FoodCorps, is partnering with Alex Amouyel, CEO of the Newman’s Own Foundation, to host a SIS roundtable on food justice. FoodCorps currently taps into more than 520,000 students in its work, helping them experience food as a daily source of joy and power in school. Through its AmeriCorps direct impact program, its power-building work with students, families, and BIPOC school nutrition leaders, and its policy and advocacy work, FoodCorps is pursuing a bold 2030 goal: achieving a future by the end of this decade where every child has access to food education and free, nourishing meals in school.

“The Social Innovation Summit brings together the dreamers and partners we need to realize our ambitious vision for shifting the school food system on behalf of the 50 million kids who show up in school every morning needing not only to learn but to eat,” says Ellis.

Investing in Global Health from the Ground Up

Photo Credit Medika Life: Astor Chambers, vice president of marketing at World Shoe, joins a Roundtable exchange on Global Health Equity at the Social Innovation Summit

Plenty of attendees addressed the very granular health and environmental issues faced by people in developed and emerging countries. Moderated by FINN Partners’s Amy Terpeluk, a social impact pioneer, The World Shoe shared insights at a roundtable conversation tackling an overlooked problem – the dangers of 600,000,000 going shoeless.  Without suitable footwear, more than one billion people face deadly diseases due to bacteria, insects, and unhealed sores.

“This first day at SIS was a great reminder of the WHY behind all our work for collective betterment. Building with other disruptive minds moves us from healthy competition to coop petition is infectious. The dynamic solutions being shared have increased my desire to push the envelope of change with what we are doing with World Shoe,” shares Astor Chambers, vice president of marketing at World Shoe.

Photo Credit: World Shoe Fund

Chambers is no stranger to footwear. Prior to World Shoe, he helped rally consumers to mega-sport shoe brands such as Nike and Adidas. At NIKE, Inc., he drove the overall strategy and leveraged all three basketball brands within the “Just Do It” giant.  He’s now making it happen for tens of millions of people.

Police with a Heart

Police2Peace is a transformational program geared to change law enforcement culture for police and sheriffs by reframing officers as “peace officers.  Its mission is for every cop in America to deliver policing that’s practical, empathetic, and just. The five-year-old, DC-based nonprofit does police culture training for cities and states and is a federal government contractor. Its training also includes compassionate mental health, homeless and domestic violence response. 

Lisa Broderick founded the organization after a 30-year stint as a high-tech executive.  Broderick’s career began at Apple Computer as a student at Stanford in the 1980s. Then she realized the words “peace officer” could be a disruptive technology for policing, and she believed the term “peace officer” could change how the public saw “cops” and how “cops” see themselves.  Some 80% of states historically refer to their law enforcement officers as “peace officers” in state statutes—while none use the term as a label when describing the cops to the public.  Lisa, community members, and police leaders set out to change that mindset.  

“America wants to see the heart behind the badge,” said Broderick.  “And cops can be on the lookout for the heart behind the person,” referring to the need for compassionate police response in tough situations like mental health-related calls for service.  “It’s a win-win.”

Journey to the Stars – a Summit Launch

Photo Credit Medika Life: Oprah Book Club Author now a voice for the incarcerated Shaka Senghor was one of the mesmerizing main stage speakers at the Social Innovation Summit

The meeting is oversubscribed, but societal needs—from making caregiving accessible and ensuring a working wage to pursuing sustainable manufacturing best practices to women’s rights and realizing the terror of the penitentiary system to paving the way for talented people like Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space—ignites the imaginations of millions to pursue life journeys filled with purpose. It’s all magically happening at the Social Innovation Summit.


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Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Health advocate connecting the dots to transform biopharma, digital health and healthcare innovation | Managing Partner, Chair Global Health FINN Partners | MM&M Top 50 Health Influencer | Top 10 Innovation Catalyst. Gil is Medika Life editor-in-chief and an author for the platform’s EcoHealth and Health Opinion and Policy sections. Gil also hosts the HealthcareNOW Radio show Healthunabashed, writes for Health Tech World, and is a member of the BeingWell team on Medium.


Editor in Chief, Medika Life

Meet the Medika Life editor-in-chief, working closely with founding editors Robert Turner and Jeff Livingston, MD.

Not your usual health-industry executive, Gil Bashe has had a unique career shaped by more than three decades in health policy, pharma, life science, digital health, eco-health, environmental innovation and venture capital and informed his determination to ‘give back.’

A champion for health innovation that sustains people’s lives and improves their care, Gil honed his perspectives on both battlefield and boardroom. He started in health as a combat medic in an elite military unit. He went on to serve as a clergyman tending to the ill; as a health products industry lobbyist in environmental affairs; as CEO of one of the world’s largest integrated health marketing companies; as a principal in a private equity-backed venture; as a Medika Life author and Health Tech World correspondent; and as Chair Global Health and Purpose at FINN Partners, a community of purpose dedicated to making a difference.

In the forefront of change, Gil is ranked as a Top 10 Digital Health Influencer; Medical Marketing & Media Top 10 Innovation Catalyst; Medika Life named him a “Top 50 Global Healthcare Influencer,” and PM360 presented him with its “Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award.” He is a board member for digital health companies and is an advisor to the CNS Summit, Galien Foundation, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, Marfan Foundation and other health-centered organizations.





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