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Bill Drayton, CEO and chairman of Ashoka Foundation, Social Entrepreneur,
Social Entrepreneur

The Architect of Change: A Conversation with Bill Drayton

On Thursday, April 27-2017, the prestigious Askwith Forum will welcome Bill Drayton, the CEO and chairman of the Ashoka Foundation. Ashoka’s mission is to identify, nurture, and empower the globe’s foremost social entrepreneurs, catalyzing their innovative solutions to societal challenges. The event will delve into strategies for empowering youth to embrace their roles as catalysts for positive change. This forum is presented in collaboration with the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative’s “Education Deep Dive: Empowerment in Education—Exploring Pathways for Transformation.”

Bill Drayton, often hailed as the “Godfather of Social Entrepreneurship,” is credited with coining the term itself. His vision extends beyond mere profit-making ventures, focusing on individuals who leverage entrepreneurial principles to effect profound social change. Since its inception in the 1980s, Drayton’s concept has evolved into a global movement, with Ashoka serving as its vanguard. Currently, Ashoka boasts a network of 3,300 fellows and alumni operating across 93 countries, each committed to driving tangible, scalable impact.

Drayton’s journey into social entrepreneurship was shaped by a deep-rooted commitment to public service. Amidst the fervor of the Civil Rights movement, he pursued legal education and co-founded Yale Legislative Services, a groundbreaking initiative that mobilized a significant portion of Yale Law students for community advocacy. Following his academic pursuits, Drayton ventured into management consulting before assuming a pivotal role as assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During his tenure, he spearheaded initiatives such as emissions trading, popularly known as “cap-and-trade,” demonstrating his proactive approach to environmental stewardship.

Even after his tenure at the EPA, Drayton’s dedication to public welfare remained unwavering. He founded Save EPA, a collective comprising retired and former EPA professionals committed to upholding the agency’s mission and integrity. Through these endeavors, Drayton continues to embody the spirit of civic engagement and social innovation, inspiring generations to embrace their potential as agents of change.

In summary, the Askwith Forum’s forthcoming dialogue with Bill Drayton promises to be an illuminating exploration of social entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and the transformative potential of education. As society grapples with complex challenges, Drayton’s insights serve as a beacon of hope, guiding us towards a future where innovation and empathy intersect to create meaningful change.


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