The first Social Leadership Innovation Forum was held yesterday at the Mexican Heritage Plaza on Alum Rock and was co-hosted by San Jose State University and Hewlett-Packard.
Joyce Osland, e
xecutive d irector of the global leadership advancement center and professor in the college of business, said the event’s purpose was to bring together people from different business sectors of the valley and discuss social issues.
“(We want) to give them the opportunity to learn more about social innovation and to also promote cross-sector collaboration to solve local social problems,” Osland said. “That’s our emphasis, to solve local social problems using innovation-centered leadership.”
Marynel Rapinan, a junior business major, said she went to the event with several classmates to volunteer and at the same time
get a glimpse of the entrepreneurship and innovation.
"I was interested in what the event was and wanted to (get involved)," Rapinan said. "There are a lot of interesting keynotes and panels here. (I) wanted to see how they had their own non-profit (organization) and how they feel being a CEO."
The Mexican Heritage Plaza was chosen due to the fact that it was easy for people to get to, as well as being a large and beautiful place to meet,
“One of the things that are unique about our focus is that many social innovators work on global problems,” Osland said. “We thought, ‘Who's been working on the local problems?’
"And (governments) don’t have as much money as they used to have and we thought if the people from the different sectors got together and collaborated maybe we can come up with innovative solutions.”
Local problems, Osland said, include homelessness, poverty and much more.
“There are (many) social problems in Santa Clara County,” Osland said. “They could benefit if we take the innovation knowledge that Silicon Valley is famous for and applied that to local social problems.”
Osland said she hopes that people
leave with knowledge and a new idea on how they can collaborate with each other in the valley as well as networking with new people.
Bradley Maihack, co-chair of the Social Innovation Forum, as well as the founder that provided the grant to
SJSU to launch the forum to explore social innovation, said he enjoys working with SJSU.
“My whole passion is around how do we take an idea and make it successful,” Maihack said. “And about six or seven years ago I did a project with San Jose State around 'How do we use technology and innovation to bridge the digital divide issue in our community?'”
Maihack said this project launched a passion to bring together technology and community to figure out new solutions to the problems that are in San Jose.
“The event’s focus is on leadership and trying to introduce leaders to the topic of innovation,” Maihack said. “Most non-profits in the public sector have not been officially introduced to the concept of innovation and using it as a tool to help support their leadership and helping to drive change in a positive way.”
The event is to create a mindset around the tool of innovation, Maihack said. The other purpose of the event is to share and teach their best practices.
“(We’ve) got everything from very large non-profits like Catholic Charities, organizations like Hewlett-Packard, educators like San Jose State,” Maihack said. “Everyone here has realized that the way they approach serving our community’s needs and challenges, through grants and public assistance, is changing dramatically and they have to think a little bit differently and have to move to a new model that allows them to grow and serve new needs.”
This is the inaugural event, Maihack said, and he hopes it will become an annual event.