The 2023 Human Services Summit
Activating Courageous Leadership
When & Where
October 27-29, 2023
Harvard University | Cambridge, MA

About the Summit


Emerging into a vibrant new era of human services, the opportunities and challenges in advancing social and economic mobility have become more evident and dynamic. The impact of persistent health inequities, deep economic disparities, and rising environmental justice issues have shown that human services require broader vision and mindset, innovative services and solutions, and transformation in organizational capacity. Achieving this future state demands courageous leadership.

Yet what does courage mean in today’s world? And how do human services leaders activate courage? To start, it means transforming human services organizations by centering the lived experience of communities and customers. It necessitates leveraging that experience to build new organizational capacity and generative services while shedding past methods and ways of working. And imperatively, courageous leaders must orchestrate the energy, creativity, and endurance in themselves and their teams to act in time.

To help human services lead with courage during these times, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and Leadership for a Networked World in collaboration with Change & Innovation Agency are convening senior-most executives for the 2023 Human Services Summit: Activating Courageous Leadership.

This new Summit, to be held October 27– 29 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., will provide an unparalleled opportunity to learn from and network with the world’s foremost human services practitioners, Harvard faculty and researchers, and select industry experts to create the future of human services.

The Summit builds on a decade of health and human services research and events and brings a fresh format and perspective to catalyze innovation and generative growth as envisioned in the Human Services Value Curve.

The Summit will feature practitioner case studies, ideation sessions and topical workshops designed to help participants envision an actionable transformation plan and hone leadership skills. Summit participants will gain membership to a community of peers and experts and leave the Summit prepared and poised to not only build organizational capacity but also deliver improved outcomes for communities, families, and individuals.

Justin Brown
Secretary of Human Services
State of Oklahoma

Vannessa Dorantes
Commissioner, Department of Children and Families
State of Connecticut

Kelly Garcia
Director of Health and Human Services
State of Iowa

Kelly Harder
Consulting Partner, Child Welfare Practice
Change & Innovation (C!A)

Rebecca Jones Gaston
Commissioner, Adminstration on Children, Youth, and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dan Makelky
Director of Human Services
Douglas County, CO

Stephanie Muth
Commissioner, Department of Family and Protective Services
State of Texas

Antonio Oftelie
Executive Director
Leadership for a Networked World

Fariborz Pakseresht
Director, Oregon Department of Human Services
State of Oregon

Sheila Poole
Vice President, External Relations

Angie Rodgers
Director of Department of Economic Security (DES)
State of Arizona

Laura Zeilinger
Director of Department of Human Services
Washington, DC

Who Should Attend?

Summit attendees are senior-level, health and human services executives, who aspire to improve outcomes and impact in the short term and design new solutions for the future. Regardless of title, all Summit attendees are “Chief Transformation Officers” in practice – leaders who strive to achieve equity in outcomes and build the social and economic mobility and wellness that help people, families, and communities thrive.

Admission & Participation

The Summit is an invitation-only program for senior health and human services executives. Other applicants will be reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis, depending in part on available space. We typically receive more applications than we can accommodate, so apply for your seat as soon as possible. This event is supported by the hosting and collaborating organizations, so there is no tuition fee to attend. Travel and hotel expenses, however, are the responsibility of individual participants.

Insights from Past Events

The Summit Series has consistently attracted and showcased leaders and vanguards in their field, whose insights and lessons have proven invaluable and inspiring to those they've reached. Below are a sample of lessons gleaned from past Summit sessions.

Generating Capacity in Human Services through Artificial Intelligence

Emerging into a pivotal new era of human services, the opportunities and challenges in advancing social and economic mobility have become more evident and dynamic. The impact of persistent health inequities, deep economic disparities, and rising environmental justice issues have shown that human services require broader vision and mindset, innovative services and solutions, and transformation in organizational capacity.

Making Lasting Cultural Change: Advice from Minneapolis and Hennepin County

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department will tell you that culture is like an iceberg: It hides more than it reveals. This is something that he, Deputy County Administrator Jennifer DeCubellis of Hennepin County, Minnesota, and other members of city and county leadership learned as they worked to reinvent their community’s approach to criminal justice.

Building a Platform for Equity

The noted poet James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” In this spirit, leaders at the Health and Human Services Summit forcefully faced the persistent challenge of ensuring that every individual, every family and every community has equity in health and human services opportunities and outcomes. The resolve in the room was palpable. In fact, 90% of Health and Human Services Summit attendees reported that improving...

Podcase: Joe Jones with Center for Urban Families

Located in the heart of West Baltimore, Center for Urban Families (CFUF) serves an area that is beset with significant poverty, crime, and racial inequity. Founded in 1999 with a mission to “disrupt poverty,” CFUF has served more than 28,000 members, placed 3,779 members in full-time jobs from 2010 through 2016, and touched nearly 62,000 children whose parents were CFUF members. The organization has received national attention for its work, hosting President Barack Obama in 2013. During the...

The Chief Growth Officer Podcast

The Chief Growth Officer Podcast, hosted by Dr. Antonio Oftelie of Harvard University, illuminates ideas on achieving transformational growth in outcomes and value.

The podcast features iconic executives and change agents as they share stories and ideas on growing the organizational and personal capacity to achieve breakthrough innovation and change and most importantly – generate outcomes that make a sustainably prosperous, equitable, and just world.

The Chief Growth Officer podcast will help you lead organizations, institutions, communities – and yourself – into transformational levels of growth in outcomes and value.

View All Episodes

Previous Reports


Leadership for a Networked World’s applied research, student innovation challenge, and on-campus summit programs are an initiative of Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie, Innovation Fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), part of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. TECH is a hub for students, faculty, alumni, and government and industry leaders to learn together, collaborate, and innovate. LNW accelerates these efforts by connecting leaders across sectors and developing cutting-edge thought leadership on innovation and organizational transformation.


Change & Innovation Agency (C!A®), part of the Vimo® family of innovative solutions for health and human services, helps agencies increase capacity so they can do more good.

By using our process expertise combined with our cutting-edge SaaS solutions, we have transformed safety net service delivery for over half of the states in the country and many large counties. As a result of our unique capacity-building approaches, agencies focused on safety net programs, including eligibility (e.g., Medicaid, SNAP, TANF), child care, child support, child welfare, and unemployment insurance, consistently serve at least 40% more customers 70% faster.

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