In an increasingly complex world, we can no longer rely on an individual charismatic leader or silver-bullet solution to create social change. Instead, we need to focus on diverse minds and multi-level approaches instead.
That’s exactly what systems change thinking does– it takes a holistic approach to problem-solving that dives deep into the root causes of an issue rather than focusing on the symptoms. It’s a model that is dependent on collaboration, bringing together many bright minds, ideas, and resources to achieve systems-level change.
We call these new leaders who are bringing more inclusive, connective, system-level solutions to our most persistent challenges system catalysts.
Through the Minds of System Catalysts
Named after the people we are inspired by, System Catalysts guides listeners to view systems change through a multi-faceted lens. Co-hosted by Tulaine Montgomery, Jeffrey Walker, and English Sall, System Catalysts shares compelling stories from philanthropists and change-makers who are promoting systems change in their communities by collaborating and including diverse perspectives.
In our debut season, we welcomed many guests who taught us various methods of tackling complex issues. We learned from Asha Curran of Giving Tuesday that allowing an idea to grow in the hands of others could be immensely powerful–that it’s a movement if it moves without you. Morgan Dixon of GirlTrek taught us that tackling systemic health inequity amongst Black women is possible when we start with ourselves and our community (what started with two friends is now a global movement of over 1.5 million Black women!). We also learned from Wendy Kopp of Teach for All how investing in leadership from the ground up can accelerate impact.
We featured thirty guests over fifteen episodes this season. The stories and lessons that were highlighted were diverse, but there was one thing that was brought up time and time again: collaboration. These stories have cemented our belief that collaboration is key to creating scalable and sustainable systems change.
Collaborating with Collective Impact Forum
The Collective Impact Forum podcast is similar to our own in its sharing of resources, tools, and stories to support social change makers working in cross-sector collaboration. So, naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to release one of their episodes on our podcast.
We chose to share ‘Partnering with Local Governments to Advance Collective Goals’ featuring Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United, because of their multi-level collaborative efforts to reduce gun violence and support public safety. They understand that it doesn’t take just the city government or the community to fix the problem but the perspectives and capabilities of both–and more–to ensure cities nationwide have a comprehensive public safety plan.
Smith said, “[systems folks] also need to be at the table with those who are directly impacted by this issue.” Cities United’s story reminds us of our episodes with Nick Grono of The Freedom Fund, an organization helping end modern slavery, and Cookie Edwards of KZN Network, who works with one of our podcast partners, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, to reduce violence against women. These three stories reveal that these systemic issues can only be solved through collective action and deep collaboration with funders, government leaders, and community members.
Interested in learning more?
You can find System Catalysts on any major podcast platform. You can also find us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Make sure to follow and subscribe–you don’t want to miss what we’ve got planned for season two!