Camden, ME & New York, NY — September 21, 2011 — PopTech, the global social innovation incubator and thought leadership network, today announced its 2011 class of Social Innovation Fellows. The Fellows program equips changemakers and innovators with the tools, insights, visibility and social networks to help them scale their work and achieve greater impact. This year’s class is working to address social, economic and environmental challenges, including reconnecting refugee families, helping nonprofits assess impact, and making solar energy accessible in emerging markets.

Considered one of the most prestigious international fellowships, PopTech’s Social Innovation Fellows program underscores PopTech’s commitment to accelerating the impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas. The program has helped build public awareness for many of the participants and elevated their work to greater levels of achievement. Leveraging the power of the PopTech network, conference platform and Fellows training, alumni have been recognized with prestigious honors and fellowships by The World Economic Forum, Echoing Green, Social Venture Network, National Geographic Emerging Explorers, and the Draper Richards Foundation; secured significant funding from organizations such as the Knight Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and MacArthur Foundation; and been profiled in top-tier media outlets including The New York Times, Fast Company, CNN, the BBC and many more.

After participating in an intensive five-day training retreat just before the PopTech conference, the Fellows then present their ideas on stage to over 700 conference attendees and thousands of viewers via PopTech’s simulcast. This marks their entry into PopTech’s rich network of influencers, advisors and resources. Throughout the year, the Fellows continue to receive ongoing mentoring and support.

The 2011 Social Innovation Fellows program will be led by top experts in leadership and social innovation, including Cheryl Heller (CEO, Heller Communication Design, PopTech Board), James L. Koch (founding director of the Center for Science, Technology and Society, director of the Global Social Benefit Incubator), and Kevin Starr (Director, Mulago Foundation).

“PopTech’s mission is to identify and foster innovative ideas with highly impactful outcomes, and the Social Innovation Fellows program is one of the ways in which we bring this to life. In each of the Fellows’ work, we see incredible potential for positive change. It’s with great pride that we introduce this new class and showcase their work to the rest of the world,” said Andrew Zolli, Curator and Executive Director of PopTech.

“The PopTech Fellows are implementing truly disruptive innovations, many of them with great potential to enhance the role of adolescent girls in social change,” said Maria Eitel, CEO and President of the Nike Foundation. “Supporting girl-centered innovation and encouraging new champions for girls are important priorities in our efforts to promote the Girl Effect worldwide.”

“Sustainable solutions and unconventional perspectives are an integral part of our work, and therefore it’s a pleasure to support this year’s Social Innovation Fellows program,” said Tom Craren, U.S. Thought Leadership and Brand Leader at PwC. “We’re honored to be involved with a program that scales the critical work of emerging leaders.”

The program is generously supported by PwC, the Nike Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, American Express, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Following is the full Class of 2011 Social Innovation Fellows

Erika Block – Local Orbit
(Ann Arbor, MI)
Erika Block founded Local Orbit to create a more equitable, transparent and sustainable food system. Her online platform provides marketing, sales, logistics and inventory management for food hubs, entrepreneurs, farmers, institutions and community groups working to increase local and regional food distribution. Food buyers get streamlined purchasing from multiple sellers and a direct, traceable supply chain. By providing a scalable and efficient distribution platform, Erika is reducing the cost and environmental impact of getting food from producers to eaters, supporting independent farmers and local economies and making healthy, locally produced food widely available and easy to buy.


Krista Donaldson – D-Rev: Design Revolution
(Palo Alto, CA)
Krista Donaldson runs D-Rev: Design Revolution, bringing state-of-the-art user-centric products to empower the lives of the four billion people living on less than four dollars a day. D-Rev collaborates with local organizations to design and deliver affordable world-class products, driving the process from need identification to market studies to delivery and measurable impact. Through products like the ReMotion JaipurKnee, Brilliance – an affordable treatment for newborns with severe jaundice – and a new high-efficiency solar energy concentrator, D-Rev is significantly improving the health and incomes of people living under challenging conditions.

Rose Goslinga – Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

Rose Goslinga leads the Syngenta Foundation’s Kilimo Salama, the first micro-insurance product available to smallholder Kenyan farmers. Using mobile phones to cost-effectively and sustainably administer insurance and to collect and distribute crop production advice, Kilimo Salama insures farm inputs and harvests against both drought and excess rain. Over 21,000 farmers have experienced the benefits and peace of mind that come with insurance, leading them to invest more in their farms, raising productivity and increasing their food security.

Sameer Kalwani – Piramal Water / Sarvajal
Sameer Kalwani is chief technology officer at Sarvajal, a clean-water franchise business in India. Sarvajal equips local entrepreneurs to sell clean water with electronic point-of-sale technology, a smart controller on the filtration system and mobile-enabled data collection that allows tracking of social impact in real time. With over 70,000 people currently benefiting and tens of thousands more to be reached within a matter of months, Sarvajal is reducing the burden of disease on society by providing affordable and clean drinking water to those without access.

Christopher Marianetti – Found Sound Nation
(Brooklyn, NY)
Chris Marianetti co-founded Found Sound Nation (FSN), a team of composers and music producers who work with youth and communities to create original music projects. From New York to New Orleans to Zimbabwe to India, FSN partners with local youth, social organizations, music festivals, and artists across all disciplines to create a musical nation that transcends geographical, linguistic, and political borders. The work of FSN uses the expressive power of music, audio, and video production to give voice to underrepresented communities, unlock the creative potential of at-risk youth, and build bridges between communities separated by cultures, economic disparities, and geography.


David and Christopher Troensegaard Mikkelsen – Refugees United
As the organization’s founders, David and Christopher Troensegaard Mikkelsen have dedicated their lives to the mission of Refugees United, which works to streamline the process of reconnecting refugee families through technology. With an open web platform and mobile phone access, Refugees United is democratizing family tracing by including refugees in the sign-up and search process. Combining their technological tools with a political campaign for greater collaboration among refugee organizations, David and Christopher are helping reconnect displaced families worldwide.

Megan White Mukuria – ZanaAfrica

Megan White Mukuria founded ZanaAfrica to address root causes of gender inequality throughout Africa. In Kenya alone, over 850,000 girls miss up to five days of school per month due to lack of sanitary pads. ZanaAfrica is solving this problem through the development and distribution of environmentally friendly sanitary pads, along with EmpowerNet clubs to help girls build their self-esteem by acquiring knowledge relevant to adolescence and amplifying their voices through blogging and tweeting. In addition, ZanaAfrica is launching the first global longitudinal study on the impact of pads on school attendance and performance. ZanaAfrica’s initiatives provide sustainable, scalable, and data-driven ways to improve the lives of girls. 

Dominic Muren – The Humblefactory
(Seattle, WA)
Having worked in robotics, architecture and product design, Dominic Muren turned his passion for sustainability into his own design lab, the Humblefactory, and the design-sharing platform Alchematter. How can we create targeted, local, low-infrastructure manufacturing that can still produce the complicated objects modern life demands, from mobile phones and e-readers to robots? The Humblefactory and Alchematter are creating communication and fabrication infrastructure to empower a new global community of small makers who will redefine manufacturing.

Michael Murphy – MASS Design Group
(Boston, MA)
Michael Murphy co-founded MASS Design Group in 2007 to provide design services for underserved populations in the most resource-constrained settings. Through projects in Rwanda, Liberia, Burundi and Haiti, MASS is combining low-cost, locally available construction materials with innovative and appropriate design. MASS’s projects reduce the in-hospital transmission of airborne diseases, improve learning opportunities for construction trades, and serve as an engine for economic growth, leveraging the design and building process to create both well-built environments and social change.

Paul Needham – Simpa Networks
(Bangalore, India)
Paul Needham is president and co-founder of Simpa Networks, which works to make modern energy simple, affordable and accessible to everyone. Addressing underserved consumers in emerging markets such as India, Simpa is pioneering a pay-as-you-go pricing model for solar energy. Simpa’s customers make a small initial down payment for a high-quality solar system and then pre-pay for the energy service, topping up their systems in small increments using a mobile phone. Payments for energy also add toward the final purchase price. Once fully paid, the system unlocks permanently and produces energy, free and clear. Simpa helps transform a daily expenditure for energy into the purchase of a highly valued asset that would otherwise be unaffordable.


Jake Porway – Data Without Borders
(New York, NY)
Jake Porway launched Data Without Borders to match social change organizations with pro bono data scientists to solve problems using data collection, management, and analysis in the service of humanity. DWB helps nonprofits understand the value of their information and draw insights from their projects, providing them with experts and resources for the short and long term, while at the same time instilling them with the skills to become self-sufficient in collecting and using data for future projects. Through DWB, Jake is creating a culture of sharing and taking action between the nonprofit and data communities that will increase their combined social impact.


Nithya Ramanathan – Nexleaf Analytics
(Los Angeles, CA)
Nithya Ramanathan co-founded Nexleaf Analytics with a revolutionary approach to deploying mobile technology for health and environmental impact studies. All over the world, Nexleaf is replacing expensive and custom hardware with mobile phones to assess initiatives such as improved cookstoves, clean water distribution and wildlife monitoring, making data accessible in real time and putting it into the hands of scientists, communities and policy makers, all at 10-100 times lower cost than existing solutions. Scaling up these results promises to change the way each of us interacts with and understands our environment and health, and how new interventions are introduced and evaluated.


Mohammed Rabah Salem – Brothers Engineering Group
Through Brothers Engineering Group, Mohammed Rabah Salem is bringing alternative energy sources to the arid lands of Palestine and Israel. His company’s locally built wind turbines and small-scale solar installations provide crucial power, and his cross-border collaborations are knitting together common needs in an otherwise deeply divided setting. Through his commitment to affordable, locally sourced materials, Mohammed is transforming lives and community relations under complicated and difficult conditions.

Amy Sun – Fab Folk
(Cambridge, MA)
A founding architect of MIT’s Fab Lab program and director of its Jalalabad, Afghanistan branch, Amy Sun helps people and communities become innovators through access to technical equipment and knowledge. In addition to providing a package of tools designed to make essentially any object, her Fab Folk initiative focuses on mobilizing communities to put those tools to practical use. One example, the FabFi project, creates open, high-speed wireless Internet access on a city-wide scale, and has been piloted by user-developers in Norway, South Africa, Afghanistan, India, and Kenya. Fab Folk is dedicated to enabling grassroots technology development by and for the community.


About PopTech

PopTech is a new kind of innovation accelerator – a community of cutting-edge leaders, thinkers and doers from many different disciplines who come together to explore the social impact of technology and the forces of change shaping the future. PopTech’s one-of-a-kind network includes innovators in wide-ranging fields such as science, technology, green energy, sustainable ecomaterials, violence cessation, design, and the corporate, entrepreneurial and social sectors. PopTech’s mission is to accelerate the positive impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas and to foster unconventional collaborations that tackle some of the world’s most significant challenges and lead to real and lasting change. PopTech is a non-profit 501©(3) organization. Please visit poptech.org and poptech.org/sifellows for more information.

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About the PwC Network

PwC firms provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to enhance value for their clients. More than 161,000 people in 154 countries in firms across the PwC network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. 

About the Nike Foundation, Nike, Inc. and the NoVo Foundation 

The Nike Foundation invests exclusively in adolescent girls as the most powerful force for change and poverty alleviation in the developing world. The Foundation’s investments are designed to get girls on the global agenda and drive resources to them. The work of the Nike Foundation is supported by Nike, Inc. and the NoVo Foundation, a collaboration that has significantly broadened the impact of the girl effect.

About the Rita Allen Foundation

Since 1953, the Rita Allen Foundation has invested in outstanding young scientists and leaders. Rita Allen Scholars include a Nobel Prize winner and members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as others recognized for significant achievements and contributions to scientific research. In addition, the Foundation now supports programs to foster civic engagement, and to build sustainable communities. We seek to motivate thinkers and doers in a variety of fields, including biomedical research, and then to intervene at the right time to increase their impact. By investing in individuals, ideas, and organizations in early stages, we help create and accelerate innovative solutions to significant problems. Learn more about us at www.ritaallen.org

About American Express 

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.  Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation‘s mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The foundation’s arts program supports the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows Program as part of its larger commitment to developing innovative leadership and innovative practices at arts organizations to help them respond to changes in the larger non-arts world.