My First Social Good Summit

I recently attended the Social Good Summit, a two-day, star-studded event held in September 2015 in New York City.

I am new to the nonprofit sector after having spent 14 years in the advertising world for publications such as Hearst Digital and AT&T. In my new role as Business Development Manager at The Wakeman Agency, I am always looking to learn more about the social change movement and attending the Social Good Summit was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with people who are moving the needle on important issues and other like-minded folks.

Cortney Stanley, Business Development Manager at The Wakeman Agency with Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director UNFPA at The Social Good Summit 2015
Cortney Stanley, Business Development Manager at The Wakeman Agency with Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director UNFPA at The Social Good Summit 2015

I attended dozens of sessions that were united by a shared premise – that analyzing strategies for the betterment of tomorrow’s world must happen now, today, if we want a more sustainable and equitable global society by the year 2030. In fact, reportedly more than 100 nations were there either in person or virtually. Many of them participated in the Social Good Summit through meet-up gatherings, a showing of the trans-national, multicultural and nonpartisan attraction to the causes discussed.

Basically, all of the world’s problems are intertwined. Poverty causes unrest, and inequality causes educational woes, which lead to even greater poverty, so I wanted to be part of the solution and network with like-minded people from around the world.

The premise that no individual is an island reverberated throughout the event and was reiterated throughout sessions about topics, issues and concerns that have global weight. Whether in developing nations or in high-tech industrial societies, I learned that gender equity, economic vitality and educational access are shared keystones in positive progress.

A key fact I came away with is that development and advancement are very much up to the people, and not just the government. Everyone needs to talk and act to spread the word. So actions have to come from the top down as well as the bottom up.  No one can push or pull the weight of the problem on their own.

I was particularly interested in sessions focused on the environment, whose prognosis for future generations hangs in the balance. Sessions including “Pristine Seas” and “Champions of the Earth” really brought home the toll of poor environmental stewardship to audiences far and wide.

Greenpeace and, a global climate movement, fully believe that if everyone acts now, the environment can be saved. But it will require a massive undertaking by the world; it can’t involve only a select group of concerned citizens.  We all live here, so we all have to help!

And major corporations need to stop destructive practices. I didn’t hear much about what global citizens needed to do, but they urged everyone to get educated and seek out info and spread the word.

As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to dominate headlines, with the United States planning to accept up to 100,000 displaced Syrians by 2017, speakers addressed humanitarian responses necessary in re-stabilizing affected persons. In sessions like “The Future of Humanitarian Aid,” “Refugees: The Route to Resettlement” and “A Conversation with the Global Poverty Project,” I heard speakers affirming the shared mandate to conceptualize and help carry out life-changing policies that address disparities in economics, education and government.  

Regarding humanitarian aid, Madeleine Albright and Dave Miliband of the International Rescue Committee said that leaders on an international scale could do more to help the refugees. Stigmas associated with helping refugees are a big hurdle for some governments and their citizens to overcome. The Social Good speakers drove home the point that we all have to remember we’re talking about real people and not just numbers.

Many of the Social Good priorities and goals dovetail with The Wakeman Agency’s vision and mission to be of service to visionary nonprofit organizations, causes and startup companies committed to building better lives. The current agency roster features clients devoted to racial justice, gender equity, education, green living, economic mobility and the arts, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of their team!

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