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Posts Tagged ‘Sonal Shah’

The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an interview today with Sonal Shah, director of the new White House Office of Social Innovation, and Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.  Although the office was officially established a few months ago, little in the way of official news has come through until now. The interview provides some interesting updates on what the office has planned, and where they hope to make an impact.

Much in line with our recent GPF conference theme, Melody Barnes describes the catalyzing role of the office:

“This fits into the president’s larger goals of doing business in a different way in Washington, the idea that every good idea does not come from government. Government should be effective and efficient and should handle its responsibilities well, but it also should be a partner with the philanthropic and business communities and the social-entrepreneurial community to address our largest challenges and meet those goals, whether it’s health care or education, energy, housing, the list goes on and on.”

Sonal Shah elaborates:

“As we see ideas that may not necessarily fit into one agency or another, we can also help direct and create partnerships that might not otherwise have existed. A lot of the foundations will come here and we’ll know about projects or programs taking place in different agencies and being able to link them up with the right groups that are working on it and figuring out ways that partnerships can happen.”

Looking forward to more updates as the new office gathers momentum.

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Matthew Bishop and Michael Green put up a great post yesterday on Obama’s plans for philanthropy that came out during GPF last week.  Looking at Sonal Shah and Secretary Clinton’s remarks, they discuss the administration’s attitude toward philanthropy and what this might mean going forward for joint government-philanthropic initiatives.  They applaud most of Secretary Clinton’s outline for a working relationship between the State Department and philanthropy, especially where she argues that we must focus on, “avoiding duplication, learning from each other, [and] maximizing our impact by looking for best practices.”

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In an article yesterday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy confirmed the rumor that Sonal Shah has been named the head of the new White House Office of Social Innovation. The office was created to “promote government efforts to help innovative nonprofit groups and social entrepreneurs expand successful approaches to tackling pressing social problems.” Our CEO & President Jane Wales is quoted in the article on the potential of the new office: “…it has the opportunity to encourage public-private partnerships aimed at addressing some of the toughest problems we face at home and abroad,” and in addition, “the office can take a careful look at U.S. government policies, including tax and regulatory policies, and determine which policies spur innovation, and whether others might needlessly impede innovation.”

Previously the head of global development at Google.org, Sonal is an excellent choice for the position, and we’re looking forward to seeing where she takes it.

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