Live From The Clinton Global Initiative: How 6 Changemakers are Making an Impact


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In this “very special” episode of Untapped Philanthropy (cue music)....

Actually, this episode was a little different and exciting from the traditional Untapped Philanthropy podcasts in that both Tim and Kerrin attended the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) 2023 annual meeting, which brings in global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. These meetings cover a wide range of topics, including climate change, inclusive economic growth, and health equity. This year, the Clintons put forth a theme of “Keep Going” - what it takes to maintain and advance progress, in spite of the difficulties that arise, and increase the capacity to cross the divides and make common cause with one another wherever possible to build a stronger future for all. Pretty special, indeed (you can read the letter here).

With a remote setup, Tim and Kerrin not only had the privilege of attending this event, but were invitedto host the podcast right there in New York, bringing in guests who were attending the event and having discussions on a wide range of topics. Here’s a snapshot of the guests they interviewed - listen above for the full story:

Natalie Byrne, Founder of Blank Space  (00:01:37)

The first guest was Natalie Byrne who is the founder of Blank Space, an impact and strategy firm that works with brands, founders, and foundations on what they’re doing and helps them devise strategies on how to tell the world about it. 

Natalie joined in to talk a little about the general why and how of the CGI meeting and what it means for the sector as a whole. As Natalie puts it. “this is actually one of the few spaces that I find that people show up at all different levels from all different places in the world, all different expertise and backgrounds, and they kind of leave it at the door.” Whether it’s a political figure, a celebrity, or world dignitary - they are all equal at CGI and all aligning to the same goal of advancing impact. 

Beyond the atmosphere that CGI creates, Natalie talks about how her work is helping to look at organizations and corporations to tie impact to their brand, to leverage leadership as activists for what their company believes in. These brands have loyal “tribes” that you want to align a message with and drive change through them. The narrative that these leaders create matters and helps to keep impact going in today’s world.

Kyran O’Mahoney and Chris White, The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (00:16:41)

Next up on the show was Kyran O’Mahoney and Chris White - CTO and Group Chief Executive at the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI). Additionally, Kyran founded a company called Inclusion and Accessibility Labs (of which Chris is a board member). Over the past 10 years the NCBI has done an enormous amount of work to help transform the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired to deliver tangible change to their growing needs. Through support programs, technology or just education, NCBI has been instrumental in creating impact for the blind in Ireland.

In addition to discussing how NCBI is making changes through technology, and taking actions to quickly measure impact, Chris and Kyran spoke to Tim about the idea of an inclusive digital revolution. Chris speaks to the idea of a “digital day in the life”. How people go about their day, and what common apps - social media, banking, ordering food, etc. - and how often those consume the time spent in a day. Then you put on the lens of someone with a disability and the level of inclusion shifts dramatically. “When you look at the individual steps that somebody with disability has to go through to participate equally and with a level of equity in that digital life that we all lead, you quickly realize every step they make is a barrier that we, through our own lack of thinking…they are being excluded time and time and time again by that simple thing of thoughtlessness.” A lot of what Chris, Kyran and the NCBI are helping to do is advance equity through technology.

Ellie Bertani, President & CEO of the GitLab Foundation (00:40:30)

Tim and Kerrin next brought on Ellie Bertani, the President and CEO of the GitLab Foundation, which works to create opportunities for individuals through catalytic investments in job training and job placement organizations, improve labor market efficiencies by addressing human capital supply/demand mismatches, and strengthening collective action through field-building activities that lead to greater information-sharing and co-investment among employers, decision-makers, and philanthropists. To put it more simply, the foundation works to help increase people’s lifetime earnings on a global scale. 

Ellie and the GitLab Foundation recently announced that they are committing $10 million to their mission. As Ellie explains, “our commitment to action is really focused on the use of merging technologies such as AI, but also things like cloud computing and advanced data science to support nonprofits, social enterprises and partnerships to drive economic mobility and opportunity.”  What’s been so invigorating for the GitLab foundation is the number of applicants and types of technology that are being presented to help fuel the impact on their mission. As part of their work, they formed an AI for funders roundtable - which has about 40 funders exploring different issues on a monthly basis and bringing in experts on how to leverage AI technology to help with training, job placement, education, and other avenues. This, all with a lens on how to use AI in a responsible and de-biased manner. This, of course opened up a whole discussion on AI in philanthropy, of which you can listen above for a deeper dive.

Kathryne Cooper, Partner at Jumpstart Nova and Maya Hardigan, Founder and CEO of Mae (01:01:30)

The final group of guests came in tandem with Kathryne Cooper and Maya Hardigan. Katherine is a partner at Jumpstart Nova, a venture capital firm that focuses on investing in healthcare startup organizations. Maya Hardgin is the founder of Mae, which is elevating the level of care for Black women through a trusted, digital-first health platform (Mae also happens to be one of the organizations supported by Jumpstart Nova).

Kathryne spoke to the group about the importance of capital allocation as the most important way to help with investing in early stage healthcare technologies. This is quite literally writing checks to founders like Maya that will then go and build companies that thrive and impact patients on a broad scale. For them both, it’s much like a partnership; it is not just about investment and return on that investment. With a focus on social impact, the investment additionally lies within the alignment of the visions and working with investors who understand the importance of serving the communities they are focused on.

The experience of CGI, for both Maya and Kathryne has been about the focus on solution building; how so many people from all over the world and different walks of life come together and listen to each other to drive change and build solutions. As Kathryne states, “But what I found is an incredible ecosystem of doers and commitment makers. Those folks who are experts in their industry or their domain, but they're here to collaborate and they're here to learn from others. And for us being healthcare investors, healthcare is a team sport. We need partners from healthcare organizations to founders to payers. It takes everyone to make this system work.”

Tim and Kerrin’s time at the Clinton Global initiative brought these folks together, along with thousands of others, to answer the call to “Keep Going”. To get the full story behind each changemaker’s story, listen to the recording above. 

Episodes of Untapped Philanthropy are released monthly and always shared on the Fluxx blog. We encourage you to subscribe to the Fluxx blog to stay up to date on new episode releases and follow us on social media for podcast excerpts and more!

For a comprehensive list of all Untapped Philanthropy episodes, visit the Fluxx blog, or your favorite podcast listening station, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

Download the transcript here.

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