Education, Global Health & Community Development at SBSI 2013

This post was written in April 2013 by Maddy Devine, a first year student at Fuqua and one of the track managers for the 2013 SBSI conference.

As one of the track managers of the Net Impact Club’s Sustainable Business & Social Impact conference, I had been tasked with pulling together three panels that encompassed the vast “social impact space.” The task was daunting. I looked to my classmates and fellow Net Impact Cabinet members to source areas of interest for panels and finally arrived upon three, covering education, global health, and community development.

“How is Education Reform Really Happening?” (podcast) 

As a former Teach For America Corps Member, I was thrilled to invite speakers with such rich and diverse experiences in education to join us at SBSI. The panel opened with a tough question from our moderator, Executive Director of the Education Pioneers Southern Office and 2009 Fuqua alum John Troy, “What does education reform mean to you?”

Tim Field, a Senior Policy Fellow at Public Impact responded, “Well, reform can mean change which can be either good or bad,” opening up a discussion that challenged both the panelists and audience to think through the many facets of the education reform issue.

Sarah Rosenberg, alum of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Education Analyst at Education Sector, noted that after several years of the “education reform movement,” the country is now hitting the implementation phase – and in doing so realizing the role for policy and the role for schools and innovators.  Elliot Sanchez articulated where he saw the need for entrepreneurship after his experiences on school reform teams with both the Louisiana state department and Superintendent of the Recovery School district in New Orleans. He determined that the policy climate with the Federal Race to the Top program actually favored the entrepreneur and founded mSchool, an accredited, technology-based micro-classroom model. “The challenge,” said Elliot, “is that there has been a change in the way that we interact with information in our daily lives, and this has yet to ripple down to how we prepare our children to function in society.”

Charter schools have often been seen as the innovator’s prime tool to producing better student outcomes, and all panelists chimed in with thoughts on the positives and negatives of charter school management organizations. Tim drew from his experience as the former Deputy Chief in Philadelphia’s Office of Charter, Partnership and New Schools and noted how important it is for districts to be rigorous in their charter review process. Fuqua 2011 alum Chris Tessone, shed light on some of the negative externalities of the school scorecard review process. Chris is COO of DC’s Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools, a network of schools that cater to students who are significantly behind or need special education. Before the schools were certified alternative education, a failing school scorecard did little to indicate the successes of the population they were built to serve. Sarah also brought up an important point in the charter school discussion – what happens if there isn’t the demand to bring in a charter school? As a former TFA teacher in rural Eastern North Carolina, she made the case that there needs to be an innovative solution that fits even that one big high school in a small town.

Last but not least, all chimed in with thoughts on what “magic wand” solutions they most hoped for, and populated a list of innovative solutions for top priority issues that slow reform, including the elective nature of school boards, education, student funding and facilities ownership. The packed audience was riveted by the discussion and by the end I had to kick them out so the final panel could start!

“Is It Scalable? Duke and Global Health” (podcast) 

To start the morning, we heard from a diverse set of panelists who are collaborating on the $10M USAID grant that Fuqua was awarded to launch the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD). In the spirit of SEAD, Fuqua Professor and moderator Paul Bloom posed challenging questions about scaling to our esteemed panelists.

The session featured panelists from many different disciplinary backgrounds. Associate Director for the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD) Richard Bartlett gave compelling testimony as to why he believes that social entrepreneurs in global health must strive to scale. Karen Clune, an Innovation Advisor for USAID, provided the Agency’s insight as to who has effectively scaled and been successful in the international health space. With a background in medical device engineering, Bob Malkin, Professor and Director of Engineering World Health at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, brought the discussion to life with tangible examples about the different needs for the different considerations for medical device design for use in developing countries. And last, but certainly not least, Fuqua Professor Cathy Clark hit upon one of the key challenges faced as she discussed the role of impact investing in scaling social enterprises. The panel’s diversity shed light on both the complexity of solving global health problems, but the need for people from different disciplines to work together to scale approaches that do work.

“A Lesson in Community Redevelopment: Durham as a Case Study” (podcast)

“We thought Durham needed to get its swagger back.”

“Thanks for bringing it.”

The crowd erupted in laughter as Farad Ali thanked his longtime friend and colleague Michael Goodmon in what was a boisterous and entertaining conclusion to an inspiring set of panel topics. What better way to end a day than to have four business, government and non-profit leaders from the local Durham community speak about the collaborative nature of community investment? Durham County Government’s Deputy County Manager Lee Worsley moderated the all-star panel which sat Durham philanthropist and businessman Michael Goodmon, Vice President of Real Estate for Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC); the Director of Durham County’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development Kevin Dick; Executive Vice President of Self-Help, Tucker Bartlett; and Vice President of the Institute of Minority Economic Development Farad Ali.

When American Tobacco closed in August of 1987, there were 2000 employees who were severely impacted. “When these industrial-type facilities close around the country, these people aren’t losing their jobs. These people are losing their lives,” said Michael. He told the story of Durham’s decline and how, for years, downtown Durham was abandoned, riddled with crime, and down on itself. “We even had a ‘Durham: Love yourself’ campaign,” added Tucker.

The reinvestment in downtown Durham started with Michael and the CBC real estate team looking at the abandoned American Tobacco facilities. “Those facilities offered a great opportunity to not only change the asset we have but the perception of what Durham really is.”

Then unfolds the story of how government, business and non-profits worked together to rebuild a town that spurs entrepreneurship, particularly for minority and women-owned enterprises, attracts business, creates jobs, reduces poverty and increases opportunities for Durham’s children. By the end of the day, the audience learned more about Durham, the spirit of collaboration, and the leaders themselves. While their fraternal warmth and humor may have stuck with me about the hour and a half we spent together, it was their ten and counting years of collaboration that has made an impressive and lasting impact on Durham.

Reflecting on the initial investment of CBC into American Tobacco I remember Michael’s words and am renewed in my personal definition of socially responsible business, “[American Tobacco] has never been about a great financial opportunity; it’s been about the community. Since when has business been about your tax burden?”