From April 24-27, more than 300 change-makers gathered for three days of thought-provoking dialogue in San Diego.
The annual Social Venture Network spring conference is a highlight of SVN’s yearly programming. Under the theme, What Matters Most, the Spring 2014 edition saw a roster of notable speakers provoke and inspire SVN members to pursue their goal of leveraging the power of business for the greater good.
Some of the speakers included:
- Gary Hirshberg, founder and chair of Stonyfield (the yoghurt people), and Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, who focused on the challenges of expanding the organic good marketplace;
- Amory Lovins, Chairman/Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who outlined how a business-led renewable energy revolution could save the world $5 trillion in comparison with “business as usual”; and,
- Joel Solomon, Chairman of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest social venture capital firm, who shared his inspiring story of mortality, renewal and ethical investment in British Columbia and beyond.
For many attendees, the most courageous and moving presentation of the conference belonged to Megan Lowry. Megan, a member of an elite group within the Marine Corps, shared her story of rape in the service or what military brass call “an occupational hazard” for women. Fighting back tears, she talked about her struggle for justice, her attempts at suicide and the organisation that she eventually turned to for support, Honoring the Path of the Warrior.
Another presentation that got us thinking was that of Neil Grimmer, President and Founder of Plum Organics, a company with a passion for safe and healthy foods for kids. Neil focused on the ongoing challenges of ensuring that millions of American kids get the nutrition they need. As he said, “children in America don’t lack calories, they lack food.”
Finally, Betsy Leondar-Wright of Class Action, a non-profit founded a decade ago to end classism, engaged attendees in various exercises about class and classism in the workplace. Her session underscored how even well-intentioned business leaders can unwittingly reinforce barriers to social and economic advancement.
SVN events are always thought-provoking and a great opportunity to connect and share with other mission-based entrepreneurs. See you at one soon.