Fels Students Attend 2017 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference

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April 18, 2017

MPA ‘17 candidates Joe Lee, Mike Urso, and Kalie Wertz joined over 800 other attendees at the 2017 Social Enterprise Conference (SECON), which took place at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Business School in March 2017. This year marked 18 years of SECON and featured diverse speakers from government, nonprofits, and the private sector who spoke on the conference theme: “What’s the Bottom Line?”

“SECON was a great opportunity to learn from the world’s foremost social enterprise experts about how to leverage the public and private sectors to advance social impact initiatives,” said Joe Lee. “The most impactful sessions for me centered on the future of work. How are tech and the gig economy changing the definition of what a job is? How can we democratize access to talent and ensure access to basic employment standards? The lessons I learned at SECON will shape how I approach my studies in urban economic development and public policy writ large.”

Mike Urso said: “SECON was a great opportunity to hear from some of the leading minds in social change and innovation in the public sector. I was specifically drawn to the lecture on ‘Communicating When the Stakes Are High.’ A former Special Forces officer spoke about the need to be specific and concise when working in teams to avoid unnecessary confusion. We conducted team exercises that emphasized how words have different meanings to different people, and learned the importance of speaking in the same language.”

“I enjoyed hearing from speakers who discussed innovative financing mechanisms to create, scale, and sustain social impact,” said Kalie Wertz. “From learning about ‘Pay For Success’ models to different investment instruments, SECON provided me concrete tools that will help frame some of the issues that I look at within my job at the Urban Affairs Coalition here in Philadelphia.”

All students agreed that the social enterprise model can play an important role in advancing civic engagement, offering innovative solutions to thorny problems, and delivering the triple bottom line (financial, social, and environmental). Fels provides funding for all current students to attend qualifying conferences that relate to their career goals. 

Photo: Joe Lee

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