Virtual adaptation of the Elevating Impact Summit

Crowd at Elevating Impact Summit

Portland State University recently hosted a virtual adaptation of its Elevating Impact experience. Before Covid, the event took the form of an annual conference focusing on creative applications of business tools to address social and environmental issues. The event, organized by Portland State University’s School of Business, has featured topics ranging from ethics in AI to social innovation in The United States Census.

In 2021, the conference took a new form. Students in Portland State University’s Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship met in small groups with leading changemakers to learn together in Elevating Impact Sessions. “Elevating Impact gives frameworks, perspectives, and inspiration to create positive social impact,” says Abby Chroman, Program Manager for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Portland State School of Business. “Past participants have met their co-founders at the event, created new classes based on the content, and changed the course of their career, after their experience at The Elevating Impact Summit. In looking for a way to deliver that unique value in the time of Covid, we developed the Elevating Impact Sessions.” They revealed areas of incredible innovation, explored individual choices and challenges and identified a suite of tools to navigate a life and career with social impact. The session topics included participatory defense in the criminal justice system, intrapreneurship for humanitarian aid and interfaith cooperation. Organizers recorded the sessions, and produced short insight “reels” to share with a broader community. 

The change brought limitations, but also new opportunities to share the highlights from each session with a wider audience. Abby Chroman describes this year’s challenges and benefits. “At the remote sessions we couldn’t offer oat milk matcha, a room full of plants and ambient sound, or a tactile art experience,” says Abby. “But we could bring speakers from all around the country, and we could facilitate candid dialogue that was never possible in the vast auditoriums of the past Elevating Impact Summits.”

You can watch the Elevating Impact Reels here:

Myriam Khoury, Vice President of Innovation at Mercy Corps, describes what it means to have a growth mindset. 

Raj Jayadev, co-founder and coordinator for Silicon Valley De-Bug, discusses what it means to succeed as a social entrepreneur.

Eboo Patel, Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core speaks about the choice to become exceptional at small products and scale across sectors or become exceptional in single sector across multiple services. 

For social innovation skills, or help bringing a social impact idea to life, consider PSU’s Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. 

Olivia Guethling produced the Elevating Impact Session Reels, and is also the creative force behind visual and interactive design at past Elevating Impact Summits. See Olivia’s most recent work at

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