With just two weeks to go until the eighth Concordia Annual Summit, we talk to our Senior Programming Advisor, Kevin Wenzel, to get a sneak peek into some of the programming themes and sessions of the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit.
My role at Concordia is to develop and manage partnerships and to leverage the organization’s platform and network in order to reach our partnership goals. What I have learned through my career in partnerships is the importance of setting very clear goals, as well as the need to communicate very clearly and make sure that everybody is on the same page. One of the things that I am most proud of at Concordia is that we form partnerships by leveraging best practices from the partners that we work with – for example, the great partnerships of the P3 Impact Award finalists. We’re able to see the ways in which these partnerships work effectively, and then we try to model our partnerships on this insight.
I’m on the phone with people all the time (laughs). I think a great example of this is the programming we’re setting up for Blockchain Central. Our primary partner for this is the Global Blockchain Business Council, and through their — as well as Concordia’s own network — I have been connected to an array of blockchain-affiliated companies and people. My job is amazing because I basically sit down with the top leaders of these organizations and hear what they think needs to be talked about. I’m then able to distill this into the programming at our Summits. In terms of keeping the programming Concordia-centric, it helps that we work as such a close-knit team. I float to everybody within the team, asking whether the ideas and themes make sense, who they might know in this world, and how we can ensure that this conversation will be impactful. It’s about having an externally-facing conversation to understand what the cutting edge is, and then being able to match it with the internal conversation around the priorities of both Concordia and our partners, and then bringing those together in our programming.
Partnerships are the only way to achieve social impact. The idea of social impact in and of itself requires you to consider the full ecosystem that has created the problem that needs to be addressed. If you’re the only person trying to address that problem, you’re not going to be successful, because you as a person or organization can only have one perspective. If you’re trying to help people but you approach it from a narrow, one-minded perspective, you’re probably going to do more harm than good, because you haven’t fully understood all of the influences that have contributed to the situation. People oftentimes get a little freaked out by partnerships because they think they have to be this very formal process, but even just calling somebody and asking their opinion before doing something they’re more experienced in is a form of partnership that I think is very important. Part of the reason why Concordia re-engages communities throughout the year at all of our events is so that we and our partners can see what’s happening, assess the lessons that have been learned, and figure out how to grow from there. That’s the power of the organic partnerships that come out of Concordia.
One of the themes I’m most interested in is the idea of inclusivity. This is the notion of listening to people you disagree with to challenge yourself — the idea of making sure that you’re not stuck in your own bubble. To be very frank, the people of the UNGA world tend to live in a bubble. What I would like to see through Concordia’s programming is the ability to burst that bubble and challenge people. We have to be open to hearing the other sides of things. This does not mean we have to always agree, but we have to at least listen.
I think this is coming through in a few different programmatic fashions at the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit. One of these is looking at the current political world, both in the U.S. and abroad, at the Millions in the Middle session, which will be a whole summit within the larger summit. This session will be centered around how we can foster political dialogue, and engage with politicians in office who don’t necessarily fall into the two buckets of far left or far right, since a lot of people are actually in the middle somewhere, more or less. The idea of having inclusive conversations without alienating people is important to the principles of Concordia and something I hope to see come out of the programming. Again, going back to how we form partnerships, if the only information you’re getting is just reinforcing what you already know, you’re not going to be thinking about all of the alternatives or all of the risks involved with the things you’re trying to accomplish.
To attend the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit, click here.