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. 


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.

The Principles And Practices Of Nonviolence Can Stop The Cycle Of Violence


Teny Gross is the executive director of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, a new support to reduce violence in the city’s most violent neighborhoods. A veteran of the Israeli Defense Force, Teny began his career in ending violence in the United States as a Senior Street Worker for the City of Boston and later was recruited to found and be the CEO of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI. Teny has a B.F.A. from Tufts, an M.T.S. from Harvard and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.

Giving Citizens A Voice In The Public Sector Through Technology

Dustin Haisler is Chief Innovation Officer for e.Republic. In addition to shaping e.Republic's products, services, and future direction, he leads e.Republic Labs, a market connector created as an ecosystem to educate, accelerate, and ultimately scale technology innovation within the public sector.

Previously, Haisler was Finance Director and later, Assistant City Manager for Manor, a small city outside Austin, TX. There, he quickly earned a reputation as an early innovator in civic technology. A member of Code for America’s original steering committee, Haisler pioneered government use of commercial technologies such as Quick-Response (QR) barcodes, crowdsourcing, and gamification — none of which had been used before in the public sector. In 2010, Haisler helped design and launch Manor Labs, one of the first government open innovation programs in the US, which received global recognition as a new model of citizen engagement and innovation.

Later, Haisler became director of government innovation at Spigit, where he helped design and deploy innovation programs for New York City; Bogota, Columbia; and even part of the space program (through NASA’s Langley Research Center). His first-in-nation innovations include architecting a Crowdsourcing Master Land Use Plan for Harford County, MD, and patenting a crowd-based business process (Crowd-as-a-Service).

In 2009, Haisler was named a Government Technology Top 25 Doer, Dreamer, and Driver. His work has been featured in Wired, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Inc. magazine, and the Today Show. Haisler has given TEDx talks on Disrupting Government and Disrupting Education. He also serves on program faculty for the Certified Public Manager (CPM) program for Texas State University.

Innovating Air Travel With A Marketplace Model

Bill Herp is founder and CEO of Linear Air, which he initially conceived as an air charter business that would leverage a new class of low-cost "very light jets" (VLJs). Herp's goal was to create a more affordable alternative for regional private jet travel.

When the VLJ manufacturers failed, Herp was forced to re-invent his business. He re-launched Linear Air as the first "air taxi" marketplace, connecting small charter airplane operators throughout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean with regional travelers, providing travelers direct access to thousands of airports throughout North America.

In addition to leading the business side of Linear Air, Herp continues to feed his passion for flying as a professional pilot within the Linear Air marketplace. Herp is a serial entrepreneur who earlier founded digital marketing pioneer e-Dialog, as well as Event Cellular Communications. He received a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

A Year of Disruption is a Year of Learnings

Whitney Johnson came to Wall Street through a secretarial side door and worked her way up to success. After eight years on Wall Street, she was an Institutional Investor-ranked equity research analyst and rated by Starmine as a superior stock-picker. However, despite the allure of Wall Street success, Johnson left equity research, walking away from Wall Street at what seemed to be the peak of her career.

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Connecting Creatives And Innovators To Mentor Students

Yarrow Kraner is the Founder of HATCH. A social media innovator, he has been building global networks since 1999. Yarrow is also an Aspen Institute Fellow, is featured in the book Talent for Humanity and was named 2015 Top 100 creatives in the US by Origins Magazine.

As a director for Virgin Studios, Kraner helmed projects for Grammy-winning musicians The Rock, Richard Branson, and P Diddy. He is currently packaging a feature film, Wind in the Fire, on the remarkable story of Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to break the gender barrier to run the Boston Marathon, recently covered in The New York Times.

Kraner's HATCH is a global network, movement, and a series of experiences designed to catalyze creativity to HATCH a better world. It includes three annual HATCH Experience summits, the HATCH edu, series of workshops and design thinking labs in high schools and with universities, and the HATCH Labs series of salons and workshops that activate the HATCH Network to work on solutions for global challenges.

HATCH Network members Mark Brand, Philip Sheppard, and A.J. Paron-Wildes all join Kraner as BIF2017 storytellers.

In 2016 Yarrow founded H360, a technology platform to connect, manage, and empower private communities (alumni groups, corporate communications, and niche networks) through AI and machine learning to collaborate on projects aimed at improving humankind.


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.

Drawing To Explain The 'How' And The 'Why'

David Macaulay is perhaps best known for his award-winning international bestseller The Way Things Work. This highly accessible, visual guide to the workings of machines was dubbed “a superb achievement” by the New York Times. A new, almost completely updated version, The New Way Things Work, was released in 2016, with all new sections on the technology that most impacts our everyday lives today.

Macaulay received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and vowed never to practice architecture. After working as an interior designer, a junior high school teacher, and a teacher at RISD, Macaulay began to experiment with creating books. He published his first book, Cathedral, in 1973.

Following in this tradition, Macaulay created other books — including City, Castle, Pyramid, Mill, Underground, Unbuilding, and Mosque — that have explained the 'how' and the 'why' in a way that is both accessible and entertaining. From the pyramids of Egypt to the skyscrapers of New York City, Macaulay has created elaborate show-and-tells that demystify the human race’s great architectural and engineering accomplishments. Five of these titles have been made into popular PBS television programs.

Enabling Citizens To Co-Create The Future Of Their Communities

BIF’s Chief Market Maker, Eli MacLaren, brings extensive experience leading institutional change efforts. MacLaren served as the Executive Director of the public foundation, the Maine Women’s Fund, as well as Chief Program Officer at GlobalGiving, the first online philanthropic marketplace that enables donors to find and fund social entrepreneurs around the world.

Before GlobalGiving, MacLaren served as the International Director for Ashoka's Citizen Base Initiative, where she worked with social entrepreneurs from around the world on strategies to finance and scale their work. Most recently, MacLaren led the business model innovation process for Children’s Health — a $4 billion per year healthcare system in Dallas, TX.

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.

How 'Rebels And Heretics' Bring Value To Organizations


Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. A 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community, she is also the author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within.

Leading The Challenge To Bring More STEM Teachers To Schools

Talia Milgrom-Elcott is Executive Director and Co-Founder of 100Kin10, an unprecedented movement to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021. With 100Kin10, Milgrom-Elcott is building a new type of collective-impact effort, with more than 250 leading organizations from across sectors coming together to collaborate, learn from one another, and together tackle challenges that none could successfully address on its own.

Milgrom-Elcott's work was called out as “the most important effort” in STEM teacher preparation by the New York Times in 2013, was celebrated onstage by President Clinton as his favorite commitment to come out of CGI America, and was applauded by President Obama in a personalized video address to the 100Kin10 network in 2014. In 2015, she was called a “leading STEM communicator” by the White House.