BMW Foundation Brain Trust powered by MIT Solve

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Register here! 

Join us for a collaborative session on innovating for equity and inclusion, hosted by MIT Solve and BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.

About this event

Brain Trust hosted by MIT Solve and BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

Join us for a collaborative partnership building event focused on designing for equity, inclusive design, and responsible leadership. Hosted by MIT Solve and BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, this event brings together cross-sector leaders to network with global innovators from MIT Solve’s Global Challenges and BMW's Responsible Leaders.

Each year, MIT Solve issues a global call for solutions addressing challenges in sustainability, health, learning, and economic prosperity, selecting 35 innovators each year. The Responsible Leaders network connects more than 1,700 diverse individuals across over 100 countries - from founders to senior leaders. Six innovators from the Solve and Responsible Leaders networks will be at the heart of this workshop!

Innovators will share their work, how it helps build equity and inclusion, and where they need help as leaders. Then, all participants will pool their expertise to give strategic advice and providing new connections, both during the initial pitches and during interactive breakouts.


  • Welcome!
  • Framing panel around equity and inclusion
  • 6 two-minute Innovator Introductions
  • 2 Breakouts with innovators for 30 minutes each
  • Please indicate in the sign-up options which innovator breakout(s) you would like to join. Think of these sign-ups like appointments. We will share who is coming to each breakout with the innovators so that they will prepare accordingly and expect you to be there!
  • Wrap up

Featured Speakers: 

Shawn EscofferyExecutive DirectorRoy + Patricia Disney Family Foundation (RPDFF)

Shawn Escoffery leads the RPDFF team committed to social justice and addressing the historical inequities that plague many lower-income communities. The Foundation focuses on Criminal Justice Reform, Environmental Justice, and Affordable Housing Preservation with a trust-based approach that is centered in place and emphasizes lasting partnerships as well as capacity building. Prior to joining RPDFF, Shawn directed the Inclusive Economies portfolio at the Surdna Foundation – a nationally focused family foundation with over $1 billion in assets. In this role, Shawn worked to support the development of robust and sustainable economies that include a wide range of businesses, equitable economic policy, and access to quality jobs. As an urban planner with over 20 years of experience, Shawn has worked on community economic development and affordable housing projects across the country.

Narinder DhamiManaging DirectorMarigold Capital

Narinder Dhami, a Canada Top 40 Under 40 2019 honouree, is a leader in social finance. She has worked across sectors and silos, bringing depth, perspective, and rigour to her work in North America and the Global South.

Across the last decade, Narinder designed and scaled two social ventures: as the Managing Director she built LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, an innovator in venture philanthropy, and as the founding Executive Director of she designed and scaled Rise Asset Development. Her work spans to the Global South where she helped grow the Première Agence de Microfinance across Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and worked on the portfolio team with Acumen in Ghana and Nigeria. Narinder has been recognized as a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader.

Featured Innovators: 

Dr. Kū Kahakalau, EA Ecoversity(Focus: Education and Workforce Development)

Empowering Native Hawaiian youth and young adults to reach their highest potential and solve 21st century challenges by reconnecting to their Native language and culture.

Rudayna Abdo, Thaki (Focus: Digital Literacy)

Thaki advances inclusion by enhancing women and girls’ digital literacy and skills among displaced refugees and vulnerable communities.

Cecilia Blasco, SmartFish Mexico (Focus: Sustainable Food Systems)

SmartFish's Value Rescue Model uses markets to improve fisher livelihoods, conserve marine ecosystems, and offer consumers responsible choices.

Iva Gumnishka, Humans in the Loop (Focus: Digital Inclusion)

Providing refugees with work and skills to drive forward the artificial intelligence Industry.

Wiatta Thomas, AquaFarms Africa (Focus: Food Security)

AquaFarms Africa is an agri-tech company employing aquaponics farming techniques to locally and sustainably produce fish and niche vegetables and fruits that would normally be imported from outside of the continent. AquaFarms Africa not only addresses accessibility to food security and food sovereignty, but also the need to boost youth employment, both major issues when facing urbanization across the continent.

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