Social Innovation Speaker Series: Dela Wilson

Dela Wilson

On April 4th, 2022,  Dela Wilson joined the Social Innovation Speaker Series. Dela is the founder and managing director of Axle Impact Studio, a social impact design firm, and the founder of Due Goodies, a promotional products initiative tackling the student loan debt crisis. She has advised technology and entrepreneurial ecosystems, nonprofit organizations and corporations on cultural transformation, impact evaluation and design across eight countries, all guided by a central question: how do we design to reposition the margin? As the Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at USC Marshall’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab she counsels students on launching ventures, navigating social impact careers, and developing ethical leadership philosophies.

Previously, Dela worked as head of impact and strategy for HBCUvc, a leading non-profit reimagining the innovation economy by developing the next generation of venture capital leaders, and head of strategy and operations for BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders Initiative, a public-private partnership and campaign among Google, the D.C. Mayor’s Office and Georgetown’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy. As the editor of Black Founders at at Work: Journeys to Innovation, she helped chart the leadership journeys of ecosystem builders and technologists from their formative days. She is currently building on this research through a grant from the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity.

Discussion Topic: Designing Amidst Dysfunction: Can You Outbuild Bad Leadership?

Dela’s work at Axle has included work with some of the largest, global technology companies and boutique community-based organizations to design and iterate social innovation strategies. Across each, she navigated reactionary leadership, shaky management foundations, and competing priorities to craft meaningful impact for historically-excluded communities across the global majority.

Axle helps organizations to: 1) Center into the interconnectedness of systems, balancing self-awareness and understanding of institutional responsibility; 2) Contextualize a social issue in relation to its past and present operating environments; 3) Co-Create tools that drive transformative change emphasizing connection to proximate communities, 4) Synthesize insights and new approaches to relationships, and 5) Catalyze sustainable change through research, strategic facilitation, and leadership coaching.

Dela lead an interactive discussion on design amidst dysfunction, walking you through case studies of her experience and offering insight on the realities of navigating systemic change on the ground.


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