Meet the BLK SHP.
BLK SHP nickname - "K-Scope"
Position / Job Title - Co-founder, Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative. Global Community Cultivator, House of Genius. Image Maker, The Faun Group
BLK SHP origin story - I was born and bred in San Antonio, Texas. My friend Mark Zamora and I started my first company, a lawn mowing business, when we were 11. It was official the moment we printed out business cards and walked in the summer sun to spread the word about our grassy venture. An obsession with Indiana Jones coupled with an only child's active imagination led me to quest in search of new tastes and new people.
BLK SHP mission statement - To gather unlike minds with like hearts. I want to create safe, but not sterile spaces for people to connect, experiment, share, innovate, and invent. The projects that draw me cultivate practices and rituals of hospitality, where the strange person, strange idea, or strange feeling is welcomed and celebrated, and friends are not always quickly made.
BLK SHP traits: I enjoy learning about creative, slightly off kilter ways of looking at the world. I'm either a quick study or a thick study. I will understand something really fast or dreadfully slow. I ask a lot of questions.
BLK SHP skills - After seeing a photo of a rock climber backlit by the setting sun somewhere in the desert of Yemen, my dream has been to recreate it. I've been a rock and mountain climber for the past 7 years and am still hankering for an opportunity to climb in the desert. Closer to the ground, I have a passion for long-exposure photography and using time as a paint brush and people as pigments. My work was featured and sold in a solo show produced by Pembroke College, Oxford University in the Fall and Winter of 2016.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP - Turn shit into fertilizer.
BLK SHP Nickname - Sottsass
BLK SHP origin story - I was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in Northern California. I'm a writer, editor, strategist, and creative director. I build brands big and small. I love making things happen and simply making things. Whether it’s the largest skateboard ramp in Northern California, the modern architecture bible, Dwell, a column about trash for the New York Times, a hyper-local/mega-global Craigslist, or an identity for one of the “World’s Best Hotels,” I specialize in bringing great ideas to life.
BLK SHP mission statement - Always listen. Always learn. Always have a sense of humor.
BLK SHP traits - A questioning mind, a loving heart, and a keen eye for the intricate answers that are right in front of all of us if we just take the time to really open our eyes.
BLK SHP skills - (Almost) always see the glass half full. Give me a dry dirt field and I'll see the most mesmerizing place you would never imagine. With my rose colored glasses I bring a great love for the realities of the world. I always aim to bring those two skills together in a seamless fashion.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Don't believe the hype. Especially your own. Question everything always.
Position / Job Title - Singer/Artist
BLK SHP origin story - I attended my first BLK SHP dinner in 2016. I remember being blown away by who was sitting at the table and the kind of conversations we were having about the state of the world. I appreciated the range of views and backgrounds. I was gracious to have my voice heard and to be welcomed as an artist to the table.
BLK SHP traits - I don't want to participate in the status quo of the current music industry. Binta Brown and I cofounded the label Big Mouth Records because we believe artists should own their masters, have creative control, and should be treated as partners in creating and releasing their art into the world. I want to be out spoken for others and build a platform to help give voice to what's right and to lift other people up.
BLK SHP skills - I don't give up. I like finding way to solve problems. I'm here to use my creativity and imagination for good.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Ask a lot of questions and big deep into conversations. Go below the surface and find ways to take action with the knowledge and platform you have.
Job title / position - Artivist
Position / Job Title – Pianist - Entertainer - Speaker
BLK SHP origin story – I was first introduced to BLK SHP through Peter Sims many years ago. We met at a studio in Times Square named Platinum Sound. By chance and coincidence, we discovered that we were both on the panel for Public Radio International's Annual Ambassador's Conference, just weeks after meeting each other. We've been friends ever since.
BLK SHP mission statement – To reach as many people as I can throughout the world. To change as many lives as I can through sharing my story and experience. Together, we can create the world that we want to live in, one day at a time.
BLK SHP traits – I love meeting new people. I'm very engaging and outgoing, but at times can be very internal as well. I love learning things. Every time I learn something new, it's a chance to experience being a beginner again. An opportunity for growth. I believe that keeps us young at heart.
BLK SHP skills – Musician, composer, producer, dancer, martial artist, bodyworker, public speaker, actor, casual magician, and Rubik's Cube guy.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? This is something I say to myself every day. I ask of my higher power to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I believe that this is a good practice for anyone in any position, level, or status to have.
Photo credit: Nichole Washington
Position / Job Title - Independent Contractor - Project Management // Business Development Manager, Paradigm Shift
BLK SHP origin story - I am Indian by ethnicity, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grew up in South Africa. After winning the Green Card Lottery, my family and I moved to Tulsa, OK, where I attended and graduated from Oral Roberts University. As one of America’s newest citizens, I still live in Tulsa and work as an independent contractor for various clients. I spend a majority of my time working with first generation college students in the education sector, as well as with working professionals in the corporate sector doing experiential-based leadership training and development.
BLK SHP mission statement - To encourage and empower leaders of all ages to reach their full potential no matter their background or current circumstances. “Change Your Paradigm, Change your World.” I believe in doing business with a purpose. Those we work with are striving to reach new heights, so we intentionally frame our workshops in ways that will empower them to do so.
BLK SHP traits - My verb is to “challenge”. Whether it is a goal, a thought, an idea, or a fear - I enjoy helping others make sure that they are doing their part to be the best version of themselves. Live with excellence.
BLK SHP skills - My strengths finder results explain me to a tee. Top 5: Harmony, Includer, Achiever, Consistency, and Adaptability. I love to make things happen.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Doubt will get you more than once. When it does, even the most unrealistic fears start to become so probably. It will do whatever it can to pollute your dreams, Dream anyway. When you have a dream, be intentional about how you’re going to get what you want. Your methods may be unconventional, but sometimes it’s the craziest ideas that work the best.
BLK SHP nickname - "Dr. Midnight"
Position / Job Title - CEO of GoldieBlox
BLK SHP origin story - A pivotal moment for me growing up was in high school: my teacher said he would give an automatic “A” for the year to the winner of our statewide science fair. The project I decided to do was called, “Carnival Games: Why Can’t I Win?” where I explored how these games are designed with math and physics principles that make it difficult to win while appearing so easy. It was a spectacle: I built life-sized carnival games, complete with the booth, balloons and darts - and I ended up winning! Looking back, this was my first foray into mechanical engineering and marketing, and it set me on the path to where I am today.
BLK SHP mission statement - I started GoldieBlox to disrupt the “pink aisle” and get girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. Engineering is largely missing the female perspective as only 14% are women — that’s the equation we’re trying to change.
BLK SHP traits - I have secret comedic aspirations! In college, I wrote for the Stanford Chapparal, our campus humor magazine, and I even joined an improv group when I lived in Seattle. I obviously ended up choosing a different career path, but those skills have definitely helped me build confidence by pushing me to go outside of my comfort zone.
BLK SHP skills - I am freakishly good at carving Jack-O-Lanterns. One year I carved the Mona Lisa.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? I was lucky enough to hear Steve Jobs’ infamous commencement speech at my Stanford graduation. The message, “never settle” really stuck with me since that day. Before GoldieBlox, I had a pretty circuitous career path - from branding the New York Knicks, to volunteering in India, to working at a jewelry company. But I never settled until I found my true passion, and it’s an amazing feeling to know what you were meant to do with your life.
Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Engineers: Debbie Sterling at TEDxPSU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEeTLopLkEo
GoldieBlox & Rube Goldberg "Princess Machine": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIGyVa5Xftw
2014 Superbowl Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVCC83cDch0
BLK SHP nickname - "C-topher"
Position / Job Title - CEO, Forward Impact, Co-founder, Forward Cities, Innovator in Residence, Center for Creative Leadership, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellow, Duke University
BLK SHP origin story - Born to politics in DC; shaped by social justice in South Africa; focused as a journalist for CNN; awakened by starting a bar in Santiago, Chile; inspired by scaling education ventures and writing a book about Life Entrepreneurs; working to harness the power of change-making leaders in communities across NC and beyond
BLK SHP traits - Super passionate and high energy, peripatetic by nature, trying hard to deepen impact, loving husband and father
BLK SHP skills - Translating vision into action
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Dream big but make sure to do
BLK SHP nickname - "Bette Kane"
Position / Job Title - President & CEO, Council on Foundations
BLK SHP origin story - I’ve lived all over the world, “growing global” was how I was raised, first as an Army brat and then as the daughter of a corporate Dad. Living in many places taught me to quickly adapt to a range of diverse circumstances and gave me a great appreciation for people and their differences.
BLK SHP mission statement - I’m a pragmatic advocate for change. I’m an entrepreneur who believes in the power of institutions: bridging from old to new, complex to clear, complicated to simple.
BLK SHP traits - I see patterns, connections and trends ahead of others and though lonely, the place from which I lead. I translate what is complex into what is powerful.
BLK SHP skills - I am impatient and patient; know what to wait for but eager to arrive.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Stay true to your inner compass. It knows what you need. Build it and they will come.
BLK SHP nickname - "The Likely Oracle"
Position / Job Title - Founder and Chief Catalyst, Curious Catalyst // Challenge Faculty Director, THNK School of Creative Leadership
BLK SHP Origin Story - As the daughter of two rocket scientists, I've always been curious about everything - from chemistry to photography, ballet to kickboxing. I left Boston to become a filmmaker in Hollywood by way of a psychology detour at Stanford. And the circuitous path to large scale systems innovation has included R&D with emerging technology platforms, a stint as the "chief" of a sustainable tourism project in Fiji, solving cross-disciplinary problems in the digital agency space, strategy and operations for early social media innovators and then an open-source cloud computing powerhouse focused on the developing world. I self-published an email tale in the form of a mixed media book that grew out of time in the LA spoken word poetry scene, made a short film around the nuance of veterans' rights, and founded Curious Catalyst to marry investigation with action, bringing a new take to the business of social impact through my experience in agile approaches.
BLK SHP Skills - ScrumMaster! Relentlessly curious! Rabble-rouser! Connector! And a huge proponent of sharing knowledge, via open sourcing or otherwise, to increase our ability to evolve faster, better, together!
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Never forget the journey is the destination - so how we get there is as important as where we're going. And asking the questions is more important than the answers....
Artists IN RESIDENCe
BLK SHP nickname - "The Improviser"
Position / Job Title - Musician, Actor, Dancer, Entertainer
BLK SHP origin story - I am from Kansas City, Mo. and was born in Arusha, Tanzania. I grew up in a culturally diverse household, which has helped me to appreciate the differences that we all share.
BLK SHP mission statement - To reach as many people as I can. Connecting through what is the same and growing from what is different.
BLK SHP traits - I have a wide skill set in different fields. I believe that this has made me unique and different.
BLK SHP skills - I'm a musician, martial artists, bodyworker, magician, dancer, Rubik's Cube guy, and actor.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Every moment alive is another opportunity to turn anything inside of us around.
Social Entrepreneurs in Residence
The following individuals have been selected as BLK SHP Social Entrepreneurs in Residence for 2015.
BLK SHP nickname - “The Whiz”
Position / Job Title - University Innovation Fellow, Co-Founder of 10-4 Good City, BLK SHP Social Entrepreneur in Residence
BLK SHP origin story - Soft pretzels and cheese sticks shouldn’t be considered a “vegetarian option”. As a fourteen year old, I told my friends that we should do something to change school food. They told me it wasn’t possible, so I started a blog to channel my frustrations. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I cast my own vision for a better system. Somehow, the lunch ladies found it and called the District Office. On the last day of class my freshman year, I got a tap on the shoulder while passing through the lunch line. The manager said: “We read your blog, and want to work with you. Let’s meet with the Culinary Director of the school food program.” Soon thereafter, we were on our way to creating healthy menu options for kids across the county. This was a small beginning, but it was the first time that I tuned out the world and listed to the voice that encouraged me to take a risk. It is this voice that guides me on each day.
BLK SHP mission statement - Love people. Steward place. Shepherd change.
BLK SHP traits - I’m like a circus tent and a ring leader, all in one. I create inclusive spaces for people to share insights, find inspiration and harness the imagination to solve wicked problems.
BLK SHP skills - My superpower is connecting others. I work like mycelium to bridge divides between disparate places and create value at the intersection of networks.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Pursue the still, small voice that leads you on. Along the way, stay humble, be curious and be bold enough to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm. Most of all, be true to yourself and the place that you call home.
BLK SHP nickname - "The Chief"
Position / Job Title - Director of Provider Solutions, AVIA Health Innovation; Alumnus/Former Chief of Staff and Special Advisor, Health Leads
BLK SHP origin story - As a Bengali-American born in the Bay Area, raised in Austin, transformed in Baltimore, and activated in Boston, I grew up between goat meat curry and breakfast tacos, Tagore and Plath, Bollywood and Bmore club, data and instinct, social justice and entrepreneurial excellence. I love living inside the overlap of various Venn diagrams, and believe fervently that finding commonalities in unlikely places is crucial to achieving systems change.
BLK SHP mission statement - All people deserve to be healthy -- in every sense of the word. Together, we can build both a society and a healthcare system that address the root causes of poor health, by ensuring that everyone has access to the resources and support they need to achieve health.
BLK SHP traits - Taking abstract concepts and making them accessible, refusing to see the glass as half empty, toggling between real talk and poetry, deploying a healthy dose of irreverence and humor to self, others, and work
BLK SHP skills - I love occupying the sweet space between big, brave ideas and tangible action. I'm also passionate about taking something good or promising and making it awesome.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Learn as hard and fast as you possibly can — and extend yourself the grace to be okay with re-learning it all over again!
NOMInATE A BLK SHP IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Our raison d'etre is to inspire and support people who want to unlock their own powerful voices and creative potential for the benefit of society, with the understanding that being a BLK SHP doesn’t happen without the support and collaboration of others. And, we might as well have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.
How do you become part of BLK SHP?
BLK SHP has five core guiding values: curiosity, conviction (to stand for something and your voice), courage (to pursue paths less travelled by), collaboration (a generous spirit), and contribution. As individuals, we also love to practice what we like to call "5% GSD," channeling a percentage of our time to positive social contribution. Anyone living these values can be part of the broader BLK SHP ecosystem. We plan to establish outposts of BLK SHP around the United States, as well as several globally, led by local “shepherds."
BLK SHP nickname - "Tornado" or "Eagle"
Position/Job Title - Founder & CEO, Parliament, Inc; Co-Founder, BLK SHP; Co-Founder, FUSE corps
BLK SHP origin story - I grew up in a small Northern California town of the Sierra Nevada foothills, between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. My father was a judge, from a family of public servants, while my mother was a photographer, from a family of mostly artists. I never thought of myself as creative until I discovered the Stanford d.school, which teaches methods for creative thinking, and a community and collaborations with many entrepreneurs, artists, and social entrepreneurs to support that journey.
BLK SHP mission statement - My calling is to unlock inherent creative and leadership potential in others and, through greater humanity and collaboration, to develop more creative approaches to the institutional and social challenges confronting the world today.
BLK SHP traits - I often write down the last part first, when writing a sentence, then return to the first part. Thus, I spend a lot of time editing. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
BLK SHP skills - What unique skills do you have? My mind is wired to connect countless dots — people, problems, ideas, and solutions great for creativity and entrepreneurship, not so great when I wake in the middle of the night with an insight, and can't get back to sleep!
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? If you bet on good people, and find rich ecosystems of like-minds, you will never need to interview for a job again, and will always be able invent your future.
Board Governance. The Foundation Board of Directors oversees the foundation’s activities. The Board of Directors includes: Akshata Murty, Director of Catamaran Ventures, Peter Sims, Vikki Spruill, CEO of the Council of Foundations, and Georgiana Sims.