“What’s the DNA of a systematic change-maker?”


“How are you gonna fall when you have not tried to fly yet?”

These two questions ring through for me at the just-concluded NEXUS USA summit held at The United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC where I had the opportunity to serve as a social media assistant.

The NEXUS experience was a learning journey on leadership and commitment to service. It’s a collective “safe place” that allows attendees to nurture ideas and break out of the boxes they might have found themselves to shine their inner truth. Given my role as the social media assistant, I had the chance to sit through most of the panel discussions and soak up lessons and inspiration from the speakers and attendees.

At the end of the summit, I feel more optimistic that the world will be a better place, giving the level of commitment I see from social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and philanthropy organizations present at the event who are all working together to transform the world into a better place. It’s great to see the way people are using their influence, charitable resources, time, choices, and experiences to effect change.

Here, are twenty great quotes from the summit I hope will inspire you:

“You have to listen before you can create change.” – Emma Robbins, Navajo Water Project Director, DIGDEEP.

“Sometimes the right thing is not the logical thing.” – Bob Dalton is the founder and CEO of Sackcloth & Ashes.

“Let’s be curious and compassionate about who we are. When we meet someone, let’s delay our assumption. Let us see the beauty of who we are in every person we meet. That way we will become a part of a solution to others. ” – Sara Minkara, Founder and CEO Empowerment Through Integration.

“It’s important to flip the Maslow hierarchy of needs to actually meet the emotional needs of refugees. The wounds of the soul are usually not visible.” —Negar Tayyar, Director, Global Whole Being Fund.

“The best solutions come from the people who are facing the problem and they don’t work alone.” – Lorena Garcia Duran, Director of Partnerships Ashoka U.S.

“If we care about our nation, we need to care about our neighbourhood and the investment that go into it.” – Barry Johnson, Executive Advisor to the Chairman Rock Ventures / Gilbert Family Office.

“We need diversity in the media to ensure that the story we share is representative of the country we live and the country we want to live in.” – Farhoud Meybodi, Head of Creative, Co-Owner Wayfarer Entertainment.

“Diversity is the bedrock of how you see yourself and how people perceive you.” – Joaquin Castro, US Congressman.

“Change happens when two folks come together and have respect for each other story and background.” –– Farhoud Meybodi, Head of Creative, Co-Owner Wayfarer Entertainment.

“A forest can’t be green unless each of the trees is green. The deeper the connection we have with others, the better we grow.” —Jen Smorgon, Board Member Chopra Foundation.

“When you are doing meaningful work, it helps you stay focused on things that are important.” – Zak Williams, CEO & Founder PYM Health.

“Put yourself at the centre of what you do. The work you do for others is more impactful when you put yourself in it. You can’t care about others if you don’t care about yourself.” — Jacques-Philippe Piverger, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Ozone Partners.

“Start from any place. You are not alone in the world. There are people who do less and there are people with less who do more. Regardless, just do it. Don’t think about the credit.” – Christopher Allwin, Partner, Aetos Capital.

“Maybe we don’t know how to get there, that isn’t an excuse for us not to try.” – Christiana Figueres, Co-Founder of Global Optimism Ltd.

“Things doesn’t have to be going well before you feel optimistic.” – Tom Rivett-Carnac, Founding Partner Global Optimism Ltd.

“It’s up to me to break the cycle. Nothing is going to break the cycle except for me.” – Benny Ivey, Co-Director, Strong Arms of JXN Credible Messenger Program.

“Most people that found success are able to take the lessons of their failure to create success.” – Jane case, CEO, The Case Foundation.

 “When you see an absence or vacuum, step into. Look within. Step up to move the narrative forward with the hope that other people can jump on it. And if you don’t find other people (to do that), carry on to the end.” – Albert Fernandez, Boardmember L.I.M.A. Coalition 

 “If we are to solve our big problems, we need to put our faith in young people.” – Anousheh Ansari, CEO XPRIZE Foundation.

“Change is a choice and it can start with me. Change is a choice and it can start with you.” — Raye Zaragoza, singer-songwriter.

NEXUS invites us to think differently about how we can solve this systematic problem. It encourages us to be proactive and think of opportunity as money being harvested for capital gain. And to you my dear readers, we can also join the movement to build a better world we want to see. We can act now. It’s never too late. You just need to ask yourself – “what can I do?”

A special shout out to Atlas Corps for the opportunity to attend this inspiring summit and the amazing communications team I worked with at the summit – Frank, David, Gethro, Carlina, and Naeema – you guys are a delight to work with! #WeAreNEXUS!