Dean Williams (Keynote Speaker)

Dean Williams (Keynote Speaker)

Director of the Global Change Agent Program, Harvard Kennedy School

Dean Williams is the event’s keynote speaker. He has been on the Harvard faculty for nearly two decades, based at the Center for Public Leadership. He also earned his graduate degrees from Harvard specializing in leadership and organizational change. He has consulted to governments, companies, and social organizations all around the world. For the past decade he has directed Social Leadership Singapore, a five month leadership development program that brings executives from government, business, and the social sector together to build their leadership capacity and explore strategies to address the array of social challenges facing the nation. Dean also served as the chief advisor to the President of Madagascar for five years, guiding an innovative national development process. He is the author of two popular books: Real Leadership, and Leadership for a Fractured World.

Topic: Keynote Address - Social Leadership in a Disruptive World

The world is a crazy place with so much disruption, uncertainty, and surprise. This has serious implications for leadership and change. Social leaders must be change agents that can help people make sense of what is happening in the world, transcend the tribal impulse, and develop initiatives that respond to the demands of marginalized and struggling people and communities. They must lead with creativity, conviction, and courage, while being sensitive to the political and cultural realities of their environment.  They must be willing to go to the frontier of their competence as they will often find themselves in unchartered waters filled with both potential danger and tremendous promise. The problems in the sector are messy and interdependent “adaptive challenges” that require the engagement of multiple and diverse groups, and the willingness to cross boundaries and build bridges, if breakthrough results are to be achieved.  These challenges place heavy demands on social leaders, but this is a period of thrilling adventure.