Ideagen Power 100 Exclusive Interview with the UN Foundation’s Kathy Calvin with Ideagen’s George Sifakis - Part II of the Interview Series

George Sifakis:
Welcome to Ideagen Ideas Leader Radio. Today we have an exclusive interview with one of the 2016 Ideagen Power 100, UN Foundation President and CEO, Kathy Calvin.

Sabrina (Ideagen):
I do really find it interesting that you say Ted Turner’s goal was to be innovative and bold, and so is the UN Foundation. Going off of that what inspired you to join the UN Foundation?

Kathy :
Well, I hadn’t worked in the non-profit sector and when Ted and the former president Tim Wirth invited me to join, I thought, “Wow. What do I know? What could I bring?”

I’m not a foreign policy expert, but in the end what inspired me was that I could see something big was happening in the non-profit sector. It was really becoming the place to be ... lots of innovation, lots of exciting opportunities to engage and make a difference. I thought the UN was the biggest brand around and would be a really interesting place to try to promote the partnership idea which was just becoming an idea at the time, about 15 years ago.

Lastly, I realized that one of my strengths and assets is that I’m pretty good at translating. At AOL I translated the new internet world to non-techies. When I was in politics I translated the candidates views to voters.

I love that I can help translate what the UN does on a daily basis to save lives and keep girls in school and ensure refugees have assistance. Those are very important things to be able to tell people about, so I love that opportunity to help change the world by helping translate what’s going on and coming up with ideas and opportunities for people to be part of it.

Ben (Ideagen): 
Kathy, that’s fantastic. Kind of going off this idea of inspiration and speaking from your experience, you’re not originally a foreign policy expert but you’re able to be part of something interesting or you have a place or partnership coming together.

How does your role within the UN Foundation continue to inspire you as you work towards fostering a more peaceful, prosperous and just world?

I get to work with an incredible range of incredible people from meeting Malala to meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Kofi Annan who was the former Secretary General who is now on our board, to Muhammad Yunus who is the founder of the Grameem Bank, to a 9 year-old girl, Katherine Commale who was one of our champion fundraisers for our Nothing But Nets Campaign to Hollywood stars who have put their energy behind making sure girls stay in school. It’s so exciting to see people take their passion and be able to do something with it, and that we can help connect them to it.

I’ve also been really inspired by some business leaders who broadened their vision of impact to include how they are adding to the development space and they’re not just saying, “Well, we’re doing charity or philanthropy in our communities in a traditional form,” but they’re really leaning in and using their marketing expertise and their market-building expertise and their employees to make a difference in the world, whether it’s through education or water facilities or delivering vaccines. There’s so many interesting ways that the business community has gotten involved. Usually when a business leader makes a case for development, it’s very inspiring.

That’s right, Kathy. I think you hit on something that we’re focused with that idea again which is engaging the business community because they’re playing such an outside role of impact as well, and so they need to be at the table to provide some of the critical solutions to many of the world’s most vexing issues.

On that point, Kathy, what key lessons and vantage points help you to successfully carry out your role?

You called me a tri-sector athlete in the beginning in the intro and I have worked across 3 sectors in government, in business ... well, actually media, and now in the non-profit sector and it’s given me an insight as to how each sector operates and how they can better work together to solve global challenges. Sometimes the sectors don’t even speak the same language, and I think sometimes we just assume the non-profit world has the market cornered on compassion and the business world has the market cornered on efficiency.

In fact, I see those sectors coming much closer together and I think the future will be hybrids ... organizations that we call the fourth sector, but certainly organizations will care about all those issues and the employees that they’ll be attracting, younger people, will certainly hold them accountable for doing that. That’s really exciting and I think is a vantage point that we all have to use as we look forward.

Second, I had a mentor once, a former boss from AOL, Steve Case, who always said, “Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” That’s a really important thing. Over 10 years we have significantly reduced child mortality and changed the future for girls and boys around the world, but it is a marathon and you have to be able to invest and stay with it, bring more people on board and keep working it.

That’s a mantra that I use around here all the time to help people focus on the best way to get things done is, first of all, that old adage from Africa ... “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Obviously we all want to go fast and far, but we’re learning how to do it together in some new and powerful ways.

Third, I think it’s been fascinating to watch the UN change from an institution that only considered it’s genuine partner to be member states of the government. We’re now seeing that the civil society and the private sectors are equally important partners that deserve a place at the table and can be relied on to help really deliver what needs to be done.

10/12/2016 11:09 am ET

Ideagen Exclusive Interview With Ritz Carlton’s Sue Stephenson

The Ritz Carlton is helping to promote the mission and goals of IMPACT 2030.

It was an honor to have Sue Stephenson, a Corporate Responsibility Executive with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, as a speaker at our Ideagen (Idea-gen.com) Summit in June. Her speech highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations General Assembly will adopt on September 25, 2015. There are 17 goals in total, encompassing the key issues impacting our planet such as “poverty, inequality, and climate change.” Ms. Stephenson also discussed IMPACT 2030, an organization that was created as the “result of a resolution that was adopted by the sixty-sixth UN General Assembly” which stated: “The General Assembly... welcomes the expanding involvement of the private sector in support of volunteerism, and encourages its further engagement through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities.”

She went on to discuss IMPACT 2030 and its goals. “Impact 2030 is a business-led coalition with multiple stakeholders, including the United Nations, civil society and the public sector. Our goal is to align companies and their employee volunteering strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals to make real and sustainable change by 2030.”

Ms. Stephenson also mentioned Project Everyone, which has a “goal to educate, inspire, and engage 7 billion people around the globe about the Sustainable Development Goals” or the Global Goals as they will become known. “On the 25th of September, when the goals are adopted by the UN General Assembly, a campaign will be launched, mobilizing an incredible network in 173 countries, including all of the major global media outlets,” working to publicize these Global Goals.

IMPACT 2030 is collaborating with Project Everyone to create a Global Goals Employee Engagement website. By educating employees about the Global Goals, they will see that their volunteer actions aren’t just impacting “what the company feels are important local issues, but in fact they are laddering up to what indeed are global issues. So particularly for our millennial workforce, who bring their values to the workplace and want to be engaged in making change, creating great good — alignment with the Global Goals presents an outstanding employee engagement opportunity.”

IMPACT 2030 partner companies have begun aligning their employee volunteering strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals. This is exciting for the companies involved because, “these are issues that resonate with employees, they are relevant to communities around the world — whether it’s poverty, hunger, or health, education, gender equality, energy for all, climate, etcetera.” Ms. Stephenson also highlighted that IBM, one of the IMPACT 2030 member companies, has developed an app “that records the hours that employees are giving in skills-based, pro-bono, and traditional volunteering, and mapping it to the Sustainable Development Goals.” Eventually, IBM will be making the app available for other companies to use.

IMPACT 2030, Ms. Stephenson says, is about mobilizing “strategic human capital” to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “For those of us that are involved in skills-based volunteering, we know it is a powerful tool to inspire and engage your employees, and to help them develop critical thinking and leadership skills” by leveraging their unique talents, skills and experience and is also “an effective way to strengthen employee retention. So, there’s both a real investment and value proposition for the companies involved.”

IMPACT 2030 is also focused on measuring the impact employee volunteers make. Ms. Stephenson says, “We’ve got to be able to determine how we effectively measure the impact of the important work that our employees are engaged in around the world.” She shared that IMPACT 2030 plans to work with existing resources to develop methodologies and frameworks through which to measure both the impact of volunteer commitments of member companies and the collective results of the IMPACT 2030 network on the UN Development Agenda.

The organization sees cross-sector cooperation as a method vital to achieving their objectives. IMPACT 2030 plans to maintain a strong global presence “through our multi-sector regional voice networks.” Ms. Stephenson says, “It can only be done through a multi-sector approach to these regional voice platforms, which are currently taking place at a continent level, but we envision have the potential to be distilled down to a community level.” IMPACT 2030 also aims “to create avenues for cross-sector, cross-industry, and trans-regional collaboration and cooperation” between companies and stakeholders to initiative joint commitments and actions.

She concluded, “At the end of 15 years, we are going to leave existing and new organizations with advanced tools to engage employees in volunteer work, to measure progress and impact, and I think, most importantly for us, to promote the power of people to change the world.”

Impact 2030 has targeted, admirable goals, and we cannot wait to see the positive change their work will create throughout the world.

08/27/2015 03:38 pm ET