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We can thank philanthropy and nonprofits for breakthroughs like hospice care, public libraries, and the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes. Yet finding solutions to social problems and measuring impact are often very difficult. Good intentions don’t automatically translate to impact. Why do some nonprofits punch above their weight while others misfire?

The most successful nonprofits are innovative, which is, in short, about finding new, surprising ways to get results and value. It involves creativity, originality, and some risk-taking. It involves building innovative practices into our workplace DNA, such as pilots and small experiments. Through stories of social entrepreneurs and nonprofit powerhouses like Mayo Clinic, the American civil rights movement, Fred Rogers’ nonprofit production company, Rhinos Without Borders, and many others, there are practical lessons that can be applied at any nonprofit. At the same time, we won’t shy away from cautionary tales of what not to do.

Leah Kral
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Senior Director, Strategy and Innovation

Leah Kral is an expert facilitator and author who helps nonprofits doing the hard work of building civil society to innovate and be more effective. She writes about her work in Innovation for Social Change: How Wildly Successful Nonprofits Inspire and Deliver Results (Wiley, 2022).

Kral is the Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the home of heterodox thinkers and economists who work to discover what aspects of institutions and culture help societies prosper. She is a sought-after speaker at nonprofit industry events, writes frequently about her research, offers tailored consulting to nonprofit teams and provides coaching to social entrepreneurs across the country.

She has a passion for helping organizations achieve their missions and is an active volunteer in her community and parish. She holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Duquesne University and is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Jamaica 2002-2004). To learn more, visit

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Acton Institute
98 Fulton St E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


11:30 a.m. Doors open
12:00 p.m. Lecture begins
12:30 p.m. Q&A
1:00 p.m. Lecture ends


$15 General | $10 Student
Includes box lunch and beverage

(Please RSVP at least 48 hours in advance to guarantee a box lunch.)

Event livestream is free.


Directions to the Acton Institute

Metered street parking is available. Please bring sufficient change with you for meters or pay for parking with the Motu Parking app on your smartphone (iOS and Android).

Paid parking lots are also available nearby. Please enter building off of Sheldon Blvd.