Amid the dark wood and high ceilings of the second floor of an upscale Irish bar & restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale, CA over fifty people gathered to celebrate and honor the achievements of three local winners of the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards.The 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards, hosted by New Leaders’ Council (NLC), recognizes emerging leaders across the country who have created impact in fields such as political leadership, social entrepreneurship, media leadership, and effect advocacy.The Silicon Valley Chapter of NLC organized the event to honor the three local award recipients.

New Leaders Council offers an annual fellowship to inform, tool, and connect emerging progressive leaders interested in fields such as social entrpreneurship and advocacy. You can find out more about the fellowship program on the NLC website and learn about other fellowship programs here: 50+ Fellowship Programs for Social Innovators.

Here is a recap of the event in photos.

Photo Essay: 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards, New Leaders Council Silicon Valley 2013

NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Attendees including current NLC Fellows, Alumni, Board Members, and
friends gather, mingle, and connect.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
NLC Silicon Valley Co-Directors, Reeta Sharma and Kalen Gallagher 
 welcome guests and give opening remarks.


NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Ash Kalra, NLC Silicon Valley Honorary Chair, San Jose City Council Member
introduces the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards and reflects on his own
experience in progressive leadership.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Award recipient Sarah Granger, prolific impact blogger, journalist,
 entrepreneur, and new media expert & trainer, accepts her award in
Media Leadership.


NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Services of Silicon Valley, accepts his award for Leadership in
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Award recipient Alexandra Acker-Lyons, Director of Youth Engagement Fund,
accepts her Media Leadership.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
NLC SV Co-Directors thank the honorees and attendees, and the crowd
continues to connect and engage amid the drum beats and
vocal sound-checks of a live band warming up.

Meet Kalen

Kalen GallagherKalen Gallagher is a social entrepreneur’s social entrepreneur. He doesn’t just resemble what it means to pursue social impact with an entrepreneurial mindset, he pretty much embodies it.Talk to him for a few minutes and you’ll notice that he possesses many of the characteristics of fellow millennials. Easy-going, confident, and ready to take on (and lead) change, Kalen has served his community as far back as he can remember. As a student at Westmont High School in San Jose he was active in community service organizations.
Kalen attended UC Davis as an undergraduate and served in student government in the roles of Senator, Vice President, and student body President. He stayed on at his alma mater for law school, graduating from UC Davis Law in 2009. Where passing the California Bar exam often signifies an official entry into the profession, for Kalen it was a turning point at which he decided to steer away from practicing law to focus on education. He took on the role of social studies teacher at a KIPP Heartwood Academy, a public charter school serving East San Jose.Kalen’s path to creating impact and pursuing entrepreneurship led him to join an education technology startup called ClassDojo in 2011. ClassDojo is a tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms and captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. The Next Web named it one of the top education apps of 2012.

For Kalen, the roles of educator, innovator, and leader push him to seek different avenues to create impact. In May 2012 he announced his candidacy for Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees. An elected position, he would be running against an incumbent and vying for a four-year term. In a close race fueled by grass roots campaigning, social media pushes, and plenty of precinct walks—Kalen won a seat on the Board on election day in November 2012.

I have had a chance to get to know Kalen, through one of his passions–New Leaders Council. Kalen and Reeta Sharma,  co-founded and co-direct the Silicon Valley chapter of this progressive fellowship program to build skills in leadership and social entrepreneurship…which I participated in as a Fellow in 2012 and continue to be involved in as an member of the Advisory Board.

Innov8Social caught up with Kalen to find out about his commitment to social entrepreneurship, and his path in the field.

Read the Interview

Interview with Kalen Gallagher, Social Entrepreneur and Elected Leader

Q1 | Innov8Social:   How do you define “social entrepreneurship”

A1 | Kalen Gallagher, Social Entrepreneur and Campbell Union High School District Board Trustee:  To me “social entrepreneurship” means using the principles of entrepreneurship to create sustainable, long-term solutions to our society’s biggest problems. While traditional entrepreneurs are primarily focused on earning money, social entrepreneurs seek societal change.

Q2 | Innov8Social:   What inspired you to run for office?

A2 | Kalen: I decided to run for the school board of my old high school district because it has been plagued by numerous issues for years with little discussion at the board level on how we can turn things around. Since well before I walked through the gates in 9th grade our dropout rate has been incredibly high, we’ve had low test scores, the number of our students going to and through college has been small, we’ve had the lowest paid teachers in the Bay Area, and even today we have a disturbing lack of technology available to teachers and students. While the districts around us are thriving, we’ve been held back, which is negatively impacting thousands of our community members every year. I think there’s a lot that bringing my teaching experience, the “startup mentality,” and higher expectations to the board can accomplish.

Q3 | Innov8Social:   What have you learned about the intersection of start-up entrepreneurship and education technology through ClassDojo?

A3 | Kalen: We’re in the middle of a dramatic shift in public education, powered in large part by young teachers. Any teacher 30 or younger (about 30% of all teachers) grew up in a post-AOL world, which means the internet has been ingrained in their daily lives since childhood. These teachers, along with older tech-savvy teachers, are helping change the expectations, and delivery, of public education.

This has been coupled with a revolutionary change in purchasing power. Traditionally if education companies wanted to reach teachers, they had to sell to districts, which was a slow, frustrating process. Today the internet and spread of cheap internet connected devices allow education companies to go straight to teachers and skip the middle man. Teachers are also much more in tune with the tools they want and need than a school board or administrator could ever be. Now, hundreds of teachers can be using a tool within a district without the school board having even heard about it. This new distribution strategy is allowing the shift we’re experiencing today.

Q4 | Innov8Social:   When did you decide to actively turn away from the practice of law to the practice of social entrepreneurship?

A4 | Kalen: It might seem ridiculous, but I actually knew I would never practice law when I applied to law school. To me law school represented something very attractive: a 3 year, socially-acceptable vacation that would give me amble time to explore my passions and learn the legal structure of California.

I spent the summer after my 1L year in deep-reflection, trying to figure out how I could make the biggest impact possible on the issues I’m passionate about. After all the soul-searching, research, and informational interviews, it was clear to me that if I should devote my life to improving public education. The lack of a quality of public education for all is at the core of most issues that plague the United States today. Four days after taking (and somehow passing) the California Bar, I was in my new classroom at KIPP Heartwood in East San Jose.

Q5 | Innov8Social:   Do you have any tips for those who want to create a career that creates social impact and profit?

A5 | Kalen: Genuinely care about the issue you’re trying to solve. Listen to your users. Focus. If you don’t do all three, you will go nowhere.

As posted earlier I was selected as a New Leader’s Council Fellow in December 2011. After nearly six months of sessions, collaboration, small group meetings, and events, our cohort of fellows graduated from the program yesterday. It has been a great experience, and as with many instances of experiential learning, the more we have put into it–the more we have learned about progressive causes, leadership, and ourselves.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post about key takeaways from the New Leaders Council fellowship program coming up. In the meanwhile, there is still one big event we are planning, and you’re the invited!

T-1 Day to Our Annual Event!

Tomorrow (May 22nd, 2012)  we are hosting our annual event/fundraiser in downtown San Jose from 6-9pm. It will bring together young professionals in the area to experience live and art and music by up and coming local artists and bands.
The event is set to the backdrop of the Silicon Valley Capital Club, which offers a 360 degree view of South Bay from the top of the Knight Ridder building. The event will be an evening to mix and mingle and make new friends over refreshments and drinks.
Proceeds will be used to ‘pay it forward’ for next year’s fellows and to further develop and build the program for future years.
More info & registration available here.

Get your Free ticket!

As co-chair of the fundraising committee, I experienced first-hand the process of outreaching to sponsors. It involved creativity, understanding, and resilience and we found that social media enabled new ways for us to outreach to potential sponsors and to feature them in a personalized way.
One of my team members collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union to create a unique way for attendees to get in to the event for “free”. For the first 25 individuals to sign up to be a member with the ACLU for $20, ACLU will pay for your ticket ($35 online, early-bird, $40 at the door).
It was an out-of-the-box way to connect with a progressive organization and offer value to our attendees (i.e. the membership and free entry to the event).
More info & sign-up for a free ticket here. Hope to see you there!
This weekend saw the arrival of exciting news, I was accepted into the New Leaders Council Fellowship 2012 program for Silicon Valley. I think it will be a great opportunity to build on leadership and communication skills, meet passionate individuals with similar interests, and nuance my understanding of social entrepreneurship and its practice.

What is New Leaders Council (NLC)?
Formed in 2005, New Leaders Council was founded with the specific goal of creating a progressive leadership development infrastructure for young professionals who have initial career experience. It supports a unique application of social innovation to create and support progressive political entrepreneurs–who can go on to engage skills in roles of local government, entrepreneurship, education, and their workplaces.
5 Facts about NLC Institute
The NLC Institute is the training program that enables the work of NLC. Here are 5 facts about the NLC Institute and its reach.
  1. It’s for ultimate weekend warrior. The NLC curriculum program is 5 months long (starting in January) and requires a commitment of 1 full weekend per month.
  2. There’s no “i” in NLC. The program focuses on teamwork and achieving goals together.
  3. Mentor mindset. Fellows are paired with mentors to broaden and build upon career goals.
  4. Volunteer run. Perhaps most amazing is that the entire Institute is volunteer-run. Fundraising projects by NLC fellows support programming costs and the Advisory Board, chaired by NLC CEO Mark Walsh, oversee broader fundraising efforts.
  5. 20 places and growing. NLC Institute programs are in twenty cities across the country and growing.
What happens after you graduate from NLC?
NLC alumni are part of a broad network spanning 600+ alumni in 20 cities/communities across the country. Local alumni engagement involves quarterly reunions, networking events, webinars, and access to active job boards.
What is the NLC fellowship application process?
Individuals can be nominated for an NLC fellowship or can self-nominate. The NLC application process involves answering a questionnaire and responding to essay questions about leadership experience, interest, and future goals. Selected applicants are interviewed by local board leaders and alumni, and fellows are notified of their acceptance in mid-December.
How do I find out if there is an NLC Fellowship program near me?
You can check on the NLC Institute chapters page here.
Social innovation fellowships & accelerator program
If you are looking to build your social innovation IQ through a fellowship or accelerator program, be sure to check out our growing lists + their deadlines below. Good luck!