News & Events

Social Innovation Series

Business+Impact has hosted and sponsored great speakers at the Ross School of Business as well as presenting its own speakers at events and conferences.  Below is a representative sampling of these activities.  The Social Innovation Series brings top leaders to campus who cut across boundaries to advance innovative, practical solutions to society’s toughest social challenges.


“Working Towards Shared Prosperity: An Academic-Executive Dialogue”

 October 24-26, 2018

Over a hundred executives and academics came to Ross for this conference sponsored by Business+Impact and the Aspen Institute.  Two public events featured Carl Camden, former CEO of Kelly Services; and James Keane, CEO of Steelcase.  Discussions ranged from employment opportunities to creating cultures that share the wealth. See all of the exciting details about this event on the conference webpage.

Bending the Arc – The Rise of Social Enterprise and Mission-Based Businesses

Dr. Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft philanthropy division
 March 16, 2018

A new generation of funders are looking at new models of social investments; they also have a different approach to measuring social return on investments; they are utilizing technology extensively; and they view the role of public policy and scale with a new lens. In his talk Dr. Badshah covered these issues and provided innovative approaches to bend the arc of humanity for good.  This event was cosponsored by the School of Social Work, Ford School of Public Policy, and Business+Impact, among others.


Positive Links Speaker Series: Mindful Engagement for Positive Education in Cambodia

Evelina Fredricksson, People Improvement Organization Cambodia
 November 15, 2017

The educational system in Cambodia, from kindergarten to university, still suffers from the Pol Pot regime. In the talk, Evelina shared her experience of creating a positive setting for learning and growth. She talked about how the practice of mindful engagement and the strengths of gratitude, teamwork and creativity can pave the way forward.  This event was co-presented by Business+Impact and the Center for Positive OrganizationsWatch the entire presentation on Youtube.

Media Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship

Laxmi Parthasarathy: Ashoka
October 26, 2017

Laxmi Parthasarathy, Director of Global Media Partnerships at Ashoka, discussed her research on the intersection of social entrepreneurship and media innovation in building more informed and civically engaged communities.  During the summer of 2017, she leveraged a Center for Social Impact intern.


Board Fellows Forum: Innovation for Board Engagement

Chase Cantrell: Matrix Human Services, Building Community Value
Joe Upton: Neutral Zone
Alan Burg: Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor
Karen Peterson: Food Gatherers
February 7, 2017

The Center hosted a panel discussion with southeast Michigan nonprofit leaders focused on innovative strategies for board engagement. Attendees will learn about the unique and impactful strategies used by these organizations to engage and retain board members.



Soul of a Citizen: Making a Difference through Business & Politics

Paul Rogat Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen  and The Impossible Will Take a Little While
November 1, 2016

Acclaimed author of several books about activism and social change, Mr. Loeb offered a critical look at pressing social issues such as poverty, criminal justice, environmentalism, and citizen activism.  Just in time for elections, this enlightening discussion raised questions about the ways business and politics can be used as tools to achieve positive social change.

2015-16 Social Impact Challenge Finals with Expert Panel on Creative Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse

Tim Richey – CEO, Detroit PAL
Tonya Allen President & CEO, Skillman Foundation
Thom LinnChairman, Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy
Rico RazoDistrict 6 Manager, City of Detroit
February 9, 2016

In 2016, students tackled strategic and operational questions to help launch Detroit PAL‘s Kids At the Corner Campaign in partnership with the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which involves the redevelopment of the historic field.   The 2016 Social Impact Challenge judges presented Leadership Lessons from Detroit just before the winners were announced.  Co-sponsoring U-M schools and colleges included the Ross School of Business, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, School of Information, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Naturaal Resources and Environment, School of Education, Stamps School of Art and Design, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Michigan Law, the Office of the Provost, and Michigan Athletics.

View photos from the event

See the Finals Program

Michigan Changemaker Event

Scott Sherman, U-M alum and Founder & Executive Director at Transformative Action Institute
 March 31 – April 1, 2016

Scott Sherman presented over a two-day period to regional nonprofits along with students and faculty.  The discussion covered key principles from his book, Transformative Action – The Science of Making the World a Better Place.  In addition to learning from thoughts and anecdotes, participants were able to put theory into practice with each other.

brandonstantonChange Our World Lecture: Humans of New York

Brandon Stanton, creator of “Humans of New York”
 March 24, 2016

Brandon Stanton, renowned photojournalist and creator of the book and blog “Humans of New York,” delivered the annual Change Our World Lecture to a sold-out Power Center for the Performing Arts. During the lecture, Stanton recounted the life events that led him to create his largest blog and photojournalist compilation, “Humans of New York.”  Business+Impact co-sponsored the lecture with the Center for Campus Involvement and other programs.

Mike-MuseNew Face of Entrepreneurship

Mike Muse, U-M alum and founder of My Brother’s Keeper
February 5, 2016

Business+Impact worked in tandem with Innovate Blue and the U-M Alumni Association to co-sponsor Mike Muse.  He has created a career that crosses entrepreneurship, entertainment, and politics and has worked at a millennial entrepreneur champion.  Muse’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion showcasing entrepreneurial thinking and a student pitch contest for new start-ups.

Photo album



Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan

Rishi Moudgil, Founding Director, Center for Social Impact
November 11, 2015

The center presented how it evaluates social enterprises, determines social impact, and identifies opportunities to engage further on campus. Ninety alumni gathered at U-M’s Detroit Center to listen and also engage with a panel of U-M alumni who are working as new venture creators, nonprofit founders, and impact investors in southeast Michigan and Detroit.

Photo album

Community of Social Innovation Scholars Faculty Workshop

Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management Professor of Management and Organizations
May 15 – 17, 2015

The Community of Social Innovation (COSI) scholars group convened in an interactive session aimed at advancing research efforts within social innovation. COSI’s mission is to foster and advance the sharing of insights around teaching, data, theory and methods in the social innovation space, and to provide focused opportunities to mentor junior scholars in the domain.

Photo album

daveegnerCenter for Social Impact Launch Year Celebration

Dave Egner, Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI)
April 22, 2015

The launch celebration of Business+Impact at the Ross School of Business began with refreshments and networking, followed by a keynote address from David Egner.  Egner’s remarks outlined NEI’s $130 million foray into social innovation and parallel this to the pressing need for cross-sector conveners such as Business+Impact, which works extensively in Detroit.

Watch a video on the experience

Photo Album

kimberlyrichardsonNavigating Board Culture As a Young Professional: Gaining Trust, Leading, and Overcoming Obstacles

Kimberly Richardson, U-M Alum and Senior Counsel for Dupont
March 25, 2015

Kimberly Richardson discussed Nonprofit Board Dynamics during this interactive presentation. She offered tips and strategies for young professionals serving as board members, and shared her own experiences and insights from her board service, leadership, and career journey.

2014-15 Social Impact Challenge Finals with Expert Panel on Creative Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse

David Williams, Senior Advisor, City of Detroit Mayor’s Office, Jobs & Economy Team
Eleanore Eveleth,  Interim Executive Director, Vanguard CDC
Geraldine Gardner, Director Urban and Regional Policy, German Marshall Fund of the U.S.
Dr. Harley Etienne, Assistant Professor, Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning
February 18, 2015

The 2015-16 top teams presented their proposed solutions for creative redevelopment of the Fisher Plant, and dialogued with judges and Detroit experts and leaders from the City government, community organizations and civic groups, and the investment community. Expert panelists included David Williams, Eleanore Eveleth, Geraldine Gardner, and Dr. Harley Etienne. Co-sponsoring U-M schools and colleges included the Ross School of Business, Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, School of Natural Resources & Environment, School of Social Work, Stamps School of Art & Design, and Ford School of Public Policy.

View photos from the event

Can You Be an Entrepreneur in Government?

Shelley Metzenbaum, President of Volcker Alliance
February 16, 2o15

In this event, co-sponsored by the Ford School of Public Policy, Shelley Metzenbaum, former Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget, shared her insights on how one person can make a difference in government using the tools of outcomes-focused goals and measurement to illuminate, motivate, and communicate.



aaronhurstsmEmerging Purpose Economy Keynote at the 2014 Social Innovation Summit

Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative
October 10, 2014

During the 2014 Social Innovation Summit, leaders from across sectors revealed how they have found purpose through their careers and applied themselves to deliver impact in the community. Attendees explored their own purpose journey, and engaged with social entrepreneurs and thought leaders to explore social challenges and innovations. Keynote speaker Aaron Hurst, a renowned entrepreneur and social innovator, shared insights from his book, The Purpose Economy, during the keynote address.

Watch the Keynote Video

veronikascottMichigan Social Entrepreneurship Showcase

Veronika Scott, Founder & CEO, The Empowerment Plan
June 20, 2014

Co-sponsored by Michigan Corps and Business+Impact, this Showcase featured leading impact investors across the venture capital, philanthropic and crowdfunding spaces, alongside the state’s top social entrepreneurs. Prize winners from this year’s Michigan Corps Social Entrepreneurship Challenge presented their innovative solutions to our state’s toughest challenges, and industry leaders like Veronika Scott provided feedback and insights.

Photo Album

kencockrel2013-14 Social Impact Challenge Finals: Detroit Future City vision

Ken Cockrel, Jr., Executive Director of Detroit Future City Implementation Office and former Detroit Mayor and City Council President
February 18, 2014

Ken Cockrel, Jr. spent the evening with our teams from the 2014 Social Impact Challenge. He spoke about the new Detroit Future City Framework that represents the shared realities, aspirations, and strategies of hundreds of thousands of Detroiters to define a new future for their city.

Watch a video on the experience

Photo Album



flanneryA Conversation with Matt Flannery at the 2013 Social Innovation Summit

Matt Flannery,  Co-founder of Kiva and Co-Founder of Puddle
October 11, 2013

A Conversation with Matt Flannery,  Co-founder of Kiva and Co-Founder of Puddle. Matt addressed the founding of his company, microfinance trends, his social impact career path, and other topics in social funding. Throughout the day-long Summit, leaders from across sectors and invested university and community members together defined, explored and delivered thoughts and applications around Social Funding Methods.

Watch the Keynote Video

Lunch Lecture on Government Performance Auditing

Dr. Mark Funkhouser, Director of Governing Institute
Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint
April 1, 2013

Dr. Mark Funkhouser and Mayor Dayne Walling joined students for a private lunch and an exclusive preview conversation to discuss his book, Honest, Competent Government: The Promise of Performance Auditing. This book lays out the challenges that government performance auditors face in the real world and puts forward recommendations to move the field forward. Following lunch, Dr. Funkhouser presented a lecture discussing performance management and partnering with citizens to produce results. He addressed some of the aspects of this co-production and how it is working across America, including community economic development, place making and the tools and techniques of deliberative democracy. This event was co-sponsored by The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

Lecture: Faith-Based Social Services

Ram Cnaan, Program Director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research
February 25, 2013

Who Cares for the Needy? Dr. Cnaan is a world-renowned expert on faith-based social services from the University of Pennsylvania. He spoke about the role of organized religion in the post-welfare society. He’ll discussded the often “invisible” but tremendously significant social impact of congregations across America. Lunch was served. This event was co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

2012-13 Social Impact Challenge Education Leaders Forum, Awards, and Finals

Scott Morgan, Founder & CEO of Education Pioneers
Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit
Kendra Hearn, U-M professor at the School of Education
Lesley Redwine, CEO of New Urban Learning and Superintendent of University YES Academy
February 21, 2013

Community and academic leaders gathered at the Education Leaders Forum to discuss, “How do we attract top education leaders and managers to Detroit?” Scott Morgan and Dan Varner were joined by Kendra Hearn and Lesley Redwine. Guest from across campus and the community joined the conversation and reception.

Following the reception, the final four teams participating in the 2013 Social Impact Challenge presented their final recommendations to a panel of judges. The panel included: Scott Morgan, Dan Varner, Dr. Susan Dynarski, U-M professor at the Schools of Education, Public Policy, & Economics, and Dr. Victoria Johnson, U-M professor of Organization Studies.

Watch a video on the experience

Photo Album

Breakfast Lecture: “Solving the World’s Toughest Problems”

Dr. Paul C. Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and founding director of the Global Center for Public Service and Social Impact
February 8, 2013

Dr. Light held numerous positions prior to joining NYU, including director of the Public Policy Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts and serving as a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of 25 books, including works on social entrepreneurship, the nonprofit sector, and federal government reform. This event was a conversation with Dr. Light about Social Impact and his recent book: “Driving Social Change: How to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems”.