Accelerating Social Transformation group photo

Accelerating Social Transformation 2018 Sessions:

June 17-20, 2018 - Silicon Valley
August 9-12, 2018 - Seattle

The AST 2018 program will help you discover and understand your core values, and then through lectures by experts, and site visits of innovative practices, we will provide you with new insights and knowledge to reignite empathy and purpose. Through reflection exercises using Appreciative Inquiry, Liberating Structures, and Design Thinking you will discover new opportunities and develop an action plan for your work to expand your effectiveness and impact.

Convene, Connect, CreateAST group photo

Reigniting Equity and PurposeAST group photo - string exercise

AST 3 Day Institute

The Accelerating Social Transformation (AST) 3 day institute is a unique and immersive experience that brings together individuals and organizations that are futuristic thinkers and method-driven change makers to co-learn, connect and create human centered change.

During our three-and-a-half-day institute, you will:

  • Think more broadly and deeply about the major challenges facing change-makers.
  • Learn from leading thinkers and organizations how they perceive and adapt to transformational change.
  • Create approaches to function much more effectively as you navigate the complex environment in which you operate.

Ndudi and Kristen getting to know each other

Learning Approach and Pedagogy

Our dynamic, interdisciplinary cohort will:

  • Take a critical look at how think-tanks, experts and organizations are observing and projecting large-scale issues and how they innovate, take risks, and adapt to societal change.
  • Participate in these critical conversations and apply learnings to help you grow as an effective agent of social transformation.

Leadership and FacilitationAkhtar Badshah

The Institute is offered through the University of Washington Bothell School of Business and the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, in partnership with the Catalytic Innovators Group. The Institute will also feature guidance from world class change-makers from the Seattle area who are having both local and global impact.

Learning Modules and OutcomesAST classroom setting

A few weeks prior to the AST program, online presentations will set the context and introduce core concepts will be made available. Also a complete set of readings and resources will be available to participants upon registration. We will also work with you after the Institute over the next two months to help you finalize your action plan and follow you through the implementation.

You will:

  • Understand how a new set of funders and funding instruments such as equity, debt and online, are creating new opportunities for social investments and mobilizing people.
  • Explore the evolving intersection of technology, creativity and social impact.
  • Determine impact, take risks and scale projects.
  • Design innovative solutions combining technology and policy for maximum impact.
  • Apply learnings to your specific project/program
  • Co-create new approaches to accelerating social impact.
  • Develop an enhanced appreciation of on the ground realities and understand linkages between innovation/policy/design and the value of quick prototyping.
  • Appreciate the importance of communities, social fabric and the structure of belonging in creating a better future.
  • Develop an high impact network of alumni to continue explorations and build future collaborations.

Spawning Salmon not Creating Whales – A New Paradigm for Accelerating Social Transformation, is a new approach to effectively reach scale developed by Akhtar Badshah and will form the central thesis of AST.

TestimonialsOutdoor group photo

"As a mentor in the Accelerating Social Transformation professional course, I met an incredibly high caliber of passionate individuals. They are ready to take on more challenging roles or pursue new career avenues. Their participation in the course has given them new insights, exposed them to innovative techniques and prepared them to lead national or worldwide initiatives. Companies, institutions and leaders should be drawing talent from Accelerating Social Transformation immediately."

– Dana Manciagli, President, Job Search Master Class®, Global Career Expert

"From the moment I arrived in Seattle I realized I was in for the learning experience of a lifetime with a unique and special window into the world of philanthropy and the world of practitioners of social transformation. The potential for tension and power imbalance between these two is real but Akhtar curated an experience that allowed us to both hold that tension and the potential for the good that can come together when the multi-sectors come together and "taste the ground" together. This course surpassed my expectations."

– Ann Verhey-Henk, Managing Director, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan School of Public Health

"Accelerating Social Transformation was an eye opener and unique. The leadership of Akhtar Badshah was inspiring, amazing power of collaboration, high level Networking and sharing of real time experiences. The speakers gathered under one platform was commendable. This program is a must who sets his/her mind to change the world for better."

– Naila Chowdhury, Director, Social Impact and Innovation, University of California, San Diego

"Accelerating Social Transformation is a one-of-a-kind program, providing participants with the rare opportunity to learn from a diverse group of experts, apply knowledge directly to their work, and collaborate with peers through engaging conversations.

Those of us currently working within the social impact space are doing so at a time like no other. AST was strategically built around 4 key changes taking place: changes in philanthropic giving and funding models, impact and the value of SROI, exponential growth in technologies available, and discussions around effective scale and systems level change. The benefits of AST vastly exceed the 3- day course, by creating a network of change-agents, it was just the start, partnerships were built and conversations sparked that will continue for years to come."

– Melissa Edmiston, MPH, Vice President of Operations, Mavuno

"Participating in the inaugural Accelerating Social Transformation professional course has helped set me up for success in my new role to lead national skills initiatives for Microsoft Australia. The opportunity to meet so many creative, compassionate and intelligent people working to make a positive impact in our world was inspiring, and the structure and content of the course strongly facilitated deep learning for action."

– Dr. Eva Balan-Vnuk, National Skills Program Lead and State Director South Australia, Microsoft Australia

"If you're a change maker who would like to learn from top global foundations in a superbly designed world-class program that continues to provide support after you graduate, then this is definitely the program for you."

- Pamela Kilborn-Miller, Documentary Filmmaker

Pacific Northwest + Bay Area = Social Innovation LabSeattle Skyline, Space Needle

Ready for a new adventure? Come to Seattle or Silicon Valley and benefit from the rich social innovation network of the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley by participating in shared activities, networking opportunities and capacity-building exercises.

The Seattle Metropolitan Area and the Bay Area will serve as the classroom and campus for AST.

Talks, visits and tours are held at our university, corporate and community partner venues.

Seattle: The Gates Foundation - Global Good - Microsoft - Tableau - Vulcan - Seattle Foundation and other local innovative organizations

Silicon Valley locations to be confirmed we are exploring partnerships with:
Box - LinkedIn - Omidyar Network - Ideo - Stanford University Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society - San Francisco Foundation - Skoll Foundation - Benetech - Facebook - Zipline, among other organizations.

The AST ExperienceAfrican Proverb

The AST Institute is designed to be a stimulating, eye-opening and thought-provoking experience that will help you return to work energized and inspired with fresh thinking and new tools to accelerate the social transformation of the projects you are working on. Those with vision, insight and understanding will create the next wave of innovation and progress to bring about positive change for the most vulnerable people in our society.

Are you a ASTer?...

ASTers are individuals committed to making a positive change in society and are open to absorb new ideas, willing to challenge conventional notions, and committed to being part of this ongoing community of social change leaders.

Why attend?

We are going through enormous changes in society and many of them have been driven by access to and development of technology. As a result, it is possible for one or few individuals to create change on scale that was previously inconceivable, or only a large organization or entity could undertake. This has given rise to a new set of funders who are looking to create a paradigm shift in how we design and implement social programs. Participants will discover new approaches to social development and learn how to combine innovative solutions with technology and policy for maximum impact.

Who should participate?

Accelerating Social Transformation is designed for mid-career professionals working in or contemplating a switch to the social development space. We invite you to be a part of this novel approach to professional development training and join a select group of participants from across the non-profit, foundation, development and business communities.

AST 17 had 30 participants from around the world attend. They represented, social entrepreneurs, foundations, corporate foundations, nonprofits, academia and government agencies. Our cohort had a varied degree of experiences including a former diplomat from El Salvador, to someone starting her career at a corporate foundation, to leading a nonprofit organization and everyone in between. Our cohort came from Australia, Barbados, Egypt, El Salvador and Greece. We also had participants from across the US.

We have an open selection process. ASTers are individuals committed to making a positive change in society and are open to absorb new ideas, willing to challenge conventional notions, and committed to being part of this ongoing community of social change leaders.

Innovative Partnerships

AST has formed a partnership with Imperative to provide each of our participants access to “The Imperative Platform” where you will gain access to an in-depth personalized report that details the contribution you were meant to make in the world. It outlines your Purpose Drivers and includes insights into how to bring your purpose to life and master your purpose. Each participant will take the assessment ahead of time and use the ‘purpose drivers’ as they go through the AST institute to create their action plan.

We have also formed a partnership with Extra Slice, a Seattle based co-working space, to provide ASTers an opportunity to share their work to a broader community and form additional partnerships as they execute their projects/programs.

AST Cohort & Inspired Projects

Pamela Kilborn-Miller is negotiating a possible partnership with the University of Washington and local PBS member station KCTS 9 to strengthen our democracy through quick, highly creative, civic-focused Public Service Announcements (PSAs). She's also discussing a possible Seattle Vision project with major stakeholders to define a long-term, inclusive, and inspiring vision for the city.

Estrada Colón is piloting Microsoft Translator at the Matt Griffin YMCA, the most diverse Y in King County. She is testing whether Microsoft Translator can bridge the language gaps between members (who speak 16+ languages) and Y staff. If successful, the pilot will help members and staff better understand each other's needs. Thanks to Diane Wagner for the introduction of this tool to the YMCA.

Terrence Nevins has launched the 4% Community Collaboration Challenge in the greater Puget Sound region to boost millennial engagement that will result in 11,000 millennials finding a volunteer opportunity where their talents, skills and ambition are appreciated.

AST Certificate of Social InnovationAST Ribbon

Participants will receive a certificate on Social Innovation from the University of Washington and become part of a network of social innovators and receive ongoing online information.

The Institute is designed to be a stimulating, eye-opening and thought-provoking experience that will help you return to work energized and inspired with fresh thinking and new tools to accelerate the social transformation of the projects you are working on. Those with vision, insight and understanding will create the next wave of innovation and progress to bring about positive change for the most vulnerable people in our society.

AST Supporters and Hosts

CECP Logo - The CEO Force for Good    GlobalGood logo    Global Impact logo

Global Washington logo    Microsoft Logo    Microsoft Alumni Network Logo

Raikes Foundation Logo    Seattle Foundation Logo     Seattle International Foundation Logo

SecondMuse Logo      Tableau Foundation Logo     Vulcan Logo


And a special thanks to the U.S. Chamber Corporate Citizenship Center

Tuition | $2,500 USD

Fellowships for participants from the nonprofit community are available. For more information, contact

Tuition covers the following:

  • Programming
  • Catered breakfast and lunch for all three days
  • Evening reception/s
  • Professional Development Certificate from the University of Washington

Tuition does not cover:

  • Travel to Seattle or San Francisco
  • Travel to and from the airport
  • Hotel Accommodations
  • Dinners during the Institute (unless where specified)
  • Miscellaneous food and drinks

Learn more and register for Silicon Valley Session

Learn more and register for Seattle Session

The program is curated and facilitated by Dr. Akhtar Badshah a seasoned executive with over 30 years of experience in international development. Akhtar managed Microsoft’s philanthropic program for a decade, and co-founded a global nonprofit for social enterprise. Badshah teaches at the University of Washington and has taught Architecture and Urban Development at MIT. He is a published author, and an acclaimed international speaker. View more featured experts.

Contact: Akhtar Badshah (AST Curator) at

AST 2017 Cohort

AST 2017 Cohort

Evans School of Public Policy & Governance logo

2018 Sessions:


June 17-20, 2018
Silicon Valley

August 9-12, 2018


For more information, please contact Akhtar Badshah at


“Everything changes and nothing stands still.” --Heraclitus


“Only the paranoid survive.” --Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel


From Heraclitus to Andy Grove, leaders have always known that the only way forward is through change. Today’s leader not only must know best practices, but also have/possess a savvy comprehension of the peculiarities of each situation, the ability to define a relevant problem or set of problems, and then deploy the necessary skill sets to develop a contextualized response.