Stories to change the world

At BIF, we believe storytelling can change the world. We act on that belief every year with our annual BIF Summit. Explore the archive of stories through which we've been inspired, learned together, and co-created the future narrative. 

Innovating Air Travel With A Marketplace Model

Bill Herp is a serial entrepreneur who is currently founder and CEO of Linear Air, a company on a mission to revolutionize private air travel by making affordable air taxi service a reality. Linear Air is one of three uniquely different startups Herp has founded during his career.

Designing Better Health And Wellness For Young People

Chris McCarthy is the VP of Strategy & Innovation at HopeLab, working to deepen the organization's impact on the health and wellness of young people through innovation and design. McCarthy is also the Executive Director and Founder of the Innovation Learning Network, a membership network made up of organizations with the common goal to make healthcare better through good design.

In his previous role at Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy, McCarthy tackled safer medication administration for patients, more robust shift changes for nurses, exploring the social space of elders, and the care experience of transgender people. McCarthy's work has been featured in the book Pursuing the Triple Aim: Seven Innovators Show the Way to Better Care, Better Health, and Lower Costs by Maureen Bisognano and Charles Kenney. As an author, he collaborated with Lyle Berkowitz, MD, on Innovation with Information Technologies in Healthcare, and with Lisa Schilling on Spreading Improvement Across Your Health Care Organization.

Helping People And Corporations Move Into The New World Of Work

Sophie Wade is an authority on the wide-ranging Future of Work issues that impact companies and workers’ new demands, such as digital transformation, managing distributed workers, workplace flexibility, intergenerational communication, new career paradigms, and attracting, engaging, and retaining talent. She is the author of Embracing Progress: Next Steps For The Future Of Work.

Creativity And Innovation At The Intersection Of Music And Data

Philip Sheppard is a composer, producer, virtuoso cellist, inventor, public speaker, philanthropist, professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and a creative innovator who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, tech, sport and film. He pioneered the use of electronics in conjunction with classical music in his performances to audiences around the world.

Sheppard used his unique approach to the creative process to create Compose Yourself, a game that enables children to build their own symphonic works using a computer algorithm and an innovative deck of cards. Compose Yourself has been the subject of a front-page feature in the Wall Street Journal, and has also been recently featured by Time Magazine for Kids and Newsday.

'Design Empathy' Creates Well-Being In Workplaces

Office design expert A.J. Paron-Wildes is the National Architectural & Design Manager for Allsteel, a commercial furniture manufacturer. She has blended her skills as a designer and with her experience of raising a son with autism to create groundbreaking design work for individuals with autism.

Joining Paron-Wildes at BIF2017 will be her son, Devin Wildes, an accomplished artist who struggles with severe autism. Wildes works in multiple mediums, including sculpture, videography, jewelry making, screen printing, and painting in multiple mediums.

Empowering Congenital Heart Disease Patients To Lead Full, Productive Lives

Dr. Ami Bhatt is director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She leads a small team that specializes in multidisciplinary, lifelong care and empowerment of teens and adults with Congenital Heart Disease. Dr. Bhatt's team addresses valve problems, heart failure, multidisciplinary surgery, arrhythmia, pregnancy, transition, telemedicine, and wellness programs.

Dr. Bhatt has developed a robust multidisciplinary curriculum at Mass General to provide ACHD education to cardiovascular fellows in the Boston area. She is dedicated to patient advocacy groups, including the American Heart Association and the Adult Congenital Heart Association, and empowering individuals with congenital heart disease to lead full and productive lives.


Connecting Creatives And Innovators To Mentor Students

Yarrow Kraner is a director at Virgin Produced, an Aspen Institute Fellow, photographer, and founder of HATCH. A nonprofit, global thought-leader network, the goal of HATCH is to unite creative catalysts to "HATCH a Better World," through mentorship in creativity and innovation. HATCH cross-pollinates leaders in film, music, design, technology, and numerous innovative industries, and has connected more than 500 mentors with more than 5000 students.

Previously, Kraner founded and ran, which WIRED magazine called “one of the pioneer social networking communities.” grew virally to more than 1.5 million subscribers worldwide. The community's was to empower youths aged 12 to 24 to achieve their potential. Its foundation worked with national charities and children’s hospitals, and launched an inner-city stay-in-school program, before being sold to Fox Studios in 2004.

In 2015 Kraner was named one of top 100 Creatives by Origin magazine. His ideas and work have been recognized internationally, and he has directed projects for Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Warner Brothers, Levi’s, DirecTV, KEEN Footwear, Columbia Records, De Leon Tequila, T-Mobile, Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, several universities, tech startups, and more.

Breathing New Life Into Marginalized Communities

Social entrepreneur Mark Brand has successfully created 11 businesses in his home of Vancouver. His company MB Incorporated encompasses growth, sustainability, and fluidity in all its projects, undertakings, and partnerships. Brand and his teams at MB Incorporated breathe new life into marginalized and isolated communities through food, training, and meaningful employment. Brand challenges perspectives by constantly striving to improve the lives of others, while providing opportunities for growth and social change through emerging technologies, alternate currencies, and best practices.

Brand has been recruited to speak, mentor, and mediate on the topics of social inclusion, community collaboration, and food security everywhere from TED talks to correctional facilities. He brings the lens of community to government organizations, nonprofit boards, and business advisory committees. Through his social impact efforts and love for our neighborhoods, Brand proves that you can be successful in business while contributing to your community in a long-term, meaningful way.

Retired Founding Chairman,

Boston Scientific Corporation

John is the retired Founding Chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation and an early pioneer in the then (1970s) counter-intuitive concept of “less invasive surgery”. 

Director, Industrial Design department


Internationally recognized design and project leader Mickey Ackerman has spent decades teaching designers how to define problems clearly and then solve those problems through multidisciplinary teamwork. As Director of RISD's Industrial Design department, Ackerman established a portfolio of sponsored projects and created real-world design solutions for industry leaders such as Intel, Rubbermaid, Frigidaire and General Mills.


Extreme Networks

Vala Afshar is the CMO for Extreme Networks, responsible for global marketing and customer service and support operations. An award-winning inventor of social technologies and customer services operations, Vala is considered a pioneer in cloud computing, social collaboration, business intelligence, and customer relationship management. Vala is also the author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence.


Marla Allison is trying to do something that hasn’t been seen yet. As an artist living and working in Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, the influences on her work date back to the pre-Columbian era. So, it’s difficult to do something new under the sun.

Nevertheless, Allison brings freshness to ancient Native American artistic practices by putting her own twist on centuries-old patterns in pottery, painting and weaving, and by beautifully blending her traditionally-derived sensibilities with the best of today’s mixed media.