Innovating for social impact

Innovating for social impact

The social sector is innovating its approach to addressing the social needs of our community, which have only increased throughout the COVID-19 crisis. By taking cues from the tech and business sectors, the social sector is growing its ability to bridge gaps in community services and spur systemic change.

Join our expert-led discussion about how UCalgary and community partners are making an impact in the social sector by stimulating innovation, helping commercialize new technologies, and accelerating the creation of more startup companies focused on making social change.

Guests at this webinar will be among the first to hear exciting news about social innovation in our city from UCalgary, United Way and Innovate Calgary. 

Celebrate more social innovation with UCalgary

Social innovation is uncovering new solutions to global, social and environmental problems. Increase your social impact — check out UCalgary’s social impact programming (March 15-19).

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Meet the Panelists

Beth Gignac

Beth Gignac is a settler, originally from the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy, also known as the Windsor-Detroit area and is proud to make her home at Moh-kins-tsis, also known as Calgary, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy of the Kainai, Siksika and Piikani Nations, home to the Tsuut'ina Nation, the Chiniki, Wesley and Bearspaw Nations and Métis Region 3.

As a creative strategist, Gignac brings over 20 years of innovative leadership to the United Way. During her career she has led high-functioning, creative teams in the municipal government and non-profit sectors in Ontario and Alberta. As a member of the LGBTQS+ community, she works to build places and spaces based on principles of equity, diversity where everyone feels safe and valued and where both creativity and practical/tactical realities can co-exist.

She’s known for her boundless energy for disruption, relentless curiosity, enthusiasm for encouraging people to bring their authentic selves into the workplace and a core belief in the possible.

John Wilson

As president and CEO of Innovate Calgary, John Wilson leads a team of professionals, contributing to the design and delivery of the University of Calgary’s innovation agenda.

Wilson has an extensive background in knowledge transfer with over twenty years of experience. He has held positions as the innovation director at Brock University and the University of Oxford, where he served as the liaison with the TTO at Yale University. Wilson is a strong advocate for developing critical talent that drives economic growth.

He also managed a research and development team at Unilever in the United Kingdom and Holland. He was also the CEO of a Unilever-based spin-out, where he developed software and hardware for the computer games industry.

Wilson’s credentials include a PhD in Chemistry from Bristol University (UK) and post-doctoral research experience at Bristol University (UK) and Virginia Tech (USA).

Dr. Karen Benzies

Dr. Karen Benzies, professor with the Faculty of Nursing, holds adjunct appointments in Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, and held the position of associate dean (Research) from July 2015 – June 2020. She received a PhD from the University of Alberta and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Stockholm University and the University of Ottawa. 

Dr. Benzies’ most satisfying accomplishments come from creating evidence that accelerates policy and practice changes to improve the health of young children and their families. She has contributed many important advancements in this area through academic journals, technical reports, media interviews and numerous presentations to community and professional groups. Positive results from her evaluation of Alberta Family Integrated Care (now called Merge) led to wide-scale implementation in all Alberta neonatal intensive care units and a new company, Liminality, which will enable hospitals from around the world to access Merge.