Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS

We have covered the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) website, the blog, a webinar, articles, and an event of Stanford PACS on Innov8Social. So it was a special experience to sit down with Kim Meredith, the Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS)–the research center dedicated to studying social innovation and which publishes the SSIR.

PACS is an remarkable ecosystem supporting academic research in philanthropy & social innovation. It produces and crowdsources ideas and experience through the SSIR online and print publications, conducts webinars, hosts free live workshops, and supports emerging research in this evolving field.

Its leader, Kim Meredith, is in an instant warm, knowledgeable, and engaged in the nuances of the field as well as the overarching high-level topics surrounding social innovation, philanthropy, and community engagement. She shared her broad vision for PACS and SSIR, what drives her work, and how the broader community can stay connected with the important social impact work being done there.

You can hear Kim explain the mission and work of PACS in this brief video:

Q&A with Kim Meredith, Executive Director of Stanford PACS

What is PACS?

[Kim Meredith, PACS]: PACS is a research center for scholars, practitioners, leaders, and publisher of the SSIR, focusing on topics of business, law, education in civil society. It emphasizes cross-sector collaboration, forming cross-disciplinary discussions and relationships, to be a center of knowledge-creation and sharing. It has 3 full-time faculty co-directors with backgrounds spanning organizational behavior, Political Science, and Law.
Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS

How has PACS grown since its start?

[Kim Meredith]: PACS has seen remarkable growth in the past few years—both in size of the center and its reach. PACS started out employing one full-time faculty member and now employees nine employees, and has scaled six times in two and-a-half years.

What goals have guided your work at PACS?

[Kim Meredith]: I learned about the position opening through my daughter, who was attending Stanford at the time. The vision and goals put forth regarding PACS fit well with my executive experience at Planned Parenthood and I was enthusiastic about pursuing the growth potential of PACS.
The goals that have guided me have been simple:
  • Acquire SSIR, which was originally housed in the Stanford business school.  The addition of SSIR has facilitated a deeper degree of knowledge-sharing, and has brought that publication into the same building as other impact-related research initiatives.
  • Fund valuable research. I outlined this as a priority so as to establish PACS as a center of learning and knowledge creation. It has been remarkable to see the level of engagement and sharing that PACS represents today—through publications, curriculum, and events.
  • Go global.  Our team has been working closely with Peking University in China to create a research center for Stanford faculty, students, and field practitioners to research philanthropy and civil society in China. The efforts resulted in Stanford PACS Peking (note: read an interesting interview with Kim Meredith re: the Peking campus)

What kinds of events does PACS host?

[Kim Meredith]: Recent PACS events have included:
Philanthropy Educators Symposium: The largest-ever convening of philanthropy educators, hosted by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) in partnership with the Learning by Giving Foundation and Giving 2.0.
10 Years of SSIR: 10 year anniversary celebration with remarks by Paul Brest, PACS faculty co-director,and others
Donors Choose + charity: water: Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Stanford PACS Founder and Board Chairman, leads a conversation with Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, and Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of charity:water.
GoodJobs event: A challenge focused on open data, jobs, and the social sector. GoodJobs invites Stanford students to create mobile and web tools that will help young people access social impact jobs.

Who are the current faculty directors?

[Kim Meredith]: Stanford PACS is guided by three thought leaders in the impact space.
  • Woody Powell, Professor of Education and by courtesy Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, and Communication;
  • Rob Reich, Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty Director of the Program on Ethics in Society and, by courtesy, of Philosophy and the School of Education; and
  • Paul Brest, Professor of Law, Emeritus and Former Dean of the School of Law, and formerPresident of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

What is “civil society”?

[Kim Meredith]: It refers to what is popularly called the “third sector”, independent of government and business.

What is the role of foundations in philanthropic giving?

Interview with Kim Meredith, Stanford PACS
continued reading: Giving 2.0,
SSIR 10th Anniversary edition,
upcoming event flier…thanks Kim!
[Kim Meredith]: Foundations only account for about 14% of philanthropic giving. Individuals give the lion’s share, i.e. over 80%, of giving. Beyond monetary contributions, foundations are drivers of change, they raise awareness about key issues, and work strategically to achieve outcome-oriented action.

What is the “new social economy”?

[Kim Meredith]: It encompasses the space between public, philanthropic, and private sector. The new social economy often involves nonprofit, as well as hybrid structures, and has opened up a new kind of discussion about mission-based ventures.

Do you see funding institutions that embrace this venture philanthropy mindset?

[Kim Meredith]: Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (sv2) and Full Circle Fund are two funds that are actively engaged in this space.

What role do you think bloggers and entrants to the social innovation space can have? 

[Kim Meredith]: Bloggers and newcomers to this field can play a vital role in identifying, sourcing, and analyzing relevant, big data. There is an increasing need for qualified data, and writers and researchers in the field may be well-poised to address this need.
Answering these questions such as who is collecting data, how is it being collected, and where is it stored, creates an informed discussion about giving, philanthropy, and impact

Do you have any book recommendations?

[Kim Meredith]: Giving 2.0
and The Dragonfly Effect
are books that frame the social innovation and philanthropy issues and provide insight into emerging trends.

What should we write about next?

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