Countdown to Irish Impact 2014!

We are just six weeks out from Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference 2014 and want to take a moment to highlight several of our confirmed guest speakers, who will be coming to Notre Dame September 17 through 19.

First up, Dr. Jordan Kassalow will be the Irish Impact keynote on Wednesday evening, September 17. Dr. Kassalow is the founder and co-chairman of VisionSpring, a not-for-profit social business that ensures affordable access to eyewear everywhere. After more than 10 years, he and his associates have trained an army of 20,000 sales agents who have helped more than two million people attain eyewear that would have otherwise been unaffordable to them. JK_headshot_2013 (3)Recently named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, Dr. Kassalow also is a founder of Scojo New York and is on the Forbes magazine Impact 30 list. VisionSpring has been internationally recognized by the Skoll Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the World Bank and is a three-time winner of Fast-Company’s Social Capitalist Award.

Thursday, September 18 will feature a number of practitioners, speaking on such topics as human-centered design and design thinking, the intersection of big data with social enterprise, the social entrepreneurial ecosystem and how to bridge the funding gap.amarie_2

Ann-Marie Conrado is an assistant professor of industrial design at Notre Dame. Her research focuses on using design to address social and humanitarian concerns. At Notre Dame she brings that ethos to the classroom, engaging students in social design projects and bringing students to Nepal to work on various research projects including a $3 washing machine, a rapid deploy emergency shelter and a self-sterilizing umbilical cord cutter. She is the founder of Hope Initiative, an international nonprofit working in Nepal to utilize design thinking to address humanitarian concerns in developing countries.

screen-shot-2013-07-17-at-11-27-21-pmSaul Garlick is the founder and CEO of ThinkImpact, which advocates for “a world where massively collaborative experimental education is the norm.” ThinkImpact powers experiential education programs that catalyze social innovation and entrepreneurship by helping students, universities and companies. Their motto:  “Going abroad should impact you AND the people you meet.” Their innovation process incorporates design thinking methodology and social entrepreneurship, and Saul believes, “There is no time like the present to build the community and programs that will move the world towards a more equitable and prosperous future.”

There’s so much more to share, but we’ll close for now with Rick Klau of Google Ventures. rick-klau-portrait-headshotRick runs the Startup Lab, Google Ventures’ dedicated effort at connecting entrepreneurs at its portfolio companies with the experience and expertise across Google. Curious how Google teams set their goals? Rick is stopping by Notre Dame to discuss OKRs – that is, objectives and key results. OKRs were invented at Intel and are huge in the tech world, used by companies like Google, Zynga, Upstart, LinkedIn and many others. Rick will share the Google and Google Ventures narrative, specific to how OKRs help them manage strategy and results. This may sound like the least relevant social entrepreneurship topic, but hang on:  if you want to optimize your team and social enterprise’s performance, or any organization you intend to work for/lead, then this is probably the most relevant talk of the conference!

We just wanted to give you a taste of what’s to come in September. Please join us at Notre Dame September 17 – 19. Register at   If you are a practitioner and wish to pitch in the Zielsdorf Family Pitch Competition, please contact Melissa Paulsen at

Finally, check back here frequently, whether you are able to attend the conference or not.  Irish Impact is not just a conference. It is a hub and resource for all social innovators and entrepreneurs. We are blogging about best-in-class social entrepreneurs, social innovations, highlighting social entrepreneurs at Notre Dame, and sharing other news and information related to the field of social innovation.

See you soon!


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