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Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Dave DeForest-Stalls (EPNL '07)

An interview with Dave DeForest-Stalls (EPNL '07)

Published: August 31, 2009

Executive Education Participant, Stanford Social Innovation Review Reader
What are your causes?

My personal mission in life is to empower young people to change the world. I work primarily with children who have a missing parent and want/need a mentor, and urban adolescents who are in gangs or who are susceptible to becoming involved in them. I'm also involved in the Colorado nonprofit industry's efforts to view and promote itself more as an active part of the state's economic engine rather than just a passive recipient of charitable handouts.

How do you contribute?

For the last four plus years I've been president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, which provides professionally supported adult mentors to children. In the 1990s and early 2000s I was founder of the Spot Youth Center, an organization that targets and works with young people who are in or are vulnerable to gangs. The Center provided an engaging, arts and hip-hop focused, nighttime drop-in environment for urban adolescents. Over the last two years I've been a part of the Colorado Nonprofit Association's public policy efforts to be a recognized economic development partner and resource.

What are important lessons you learned?

Stay focused personally and professionally where your passion is the greatest. It's so much more enjoyable to get up in the morning -- or toss sleeplessly -- when you're engaged in something you love to do.

Everything we accomplish is done through our people -- our staff, volunteers, board members, investors (donors), and clients. So really focus on the individual and his or her growth and significance. Focus on building and growing a healthy relationship.

Listening well to people and being sincerely curious about who they are and what they think is the greatest leadership skill.

What are your favorite social innovation resources?

Social Innovation Review