Accelerating Social Transformation

AST Accelerating Social Transformation

Activating Your Purpose

Accelerating Social Transformation (AST) is a professional development program that catalyzes and amplifies your potential to drive transformational social impact.

Innovation focused expert lectures and virtual site visits will provide you with new insights and knowledge. Through Appreciative Inquiry and Design Thinking frameworks, you will discover new perspectives and create approaches to develop an action plan that expands your impact and reach. Together with diverse colleagues committed to social impact, you will co-learn, connect and create human-centered solutions.

We invite you to be a part of this novel approach to professional development training and join a global network of social impact leaders from across the non-profit, foundation, development and business communities.

New dates to be announced soon

If you are looking for change in your life, come join our next cohort! Register now! Please review your inbox for a follow up email from Evans Digital Initiative to complete payment for registration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Akhtar Badshah ( and Dylan Feldhaus (


AST’s approach is rooted in the values of promoting social justice, embracing vulnerability, igniting purpose, celebrating creativity, and prioritizing rest. With these values at the forefront, we work with an iterative three-phase process:

Week 1: Discovery of Self

Participants will learn about the importance of purpose and why it is critical to move from the growth mindset to a purpose mindset. Also, participants will go through an interactive exercise to articulate their strengths, values and craft their individual purpose statement. In small groups participants will
discuss their strengths, values and purpose to gain deeper insights of self and participating cohort.

Week 2: Exploring the Territory of Innovation

Exposure to innovative thinkers and practitioners doing work within the intersecting spaces of funding, technology, policy, and design to generate high-impact social change.

Week 3: Design & Apply

Co-creation with your cohort to develop personalized action plan to accelerate social impact, based on insights and learnings from the Purpose Discovery session and exposure to innovators. We will utilize Appreciative Inquiry and Design Thinking framework for developing the action plans.

A key component of the AST is that you will be paired with another participant with whom you will interact over the 3 weeks around your purpose, innovative ideas and action plan.

Our society is going through enormous changes, many of which are driven by access to and development of technology. Now it is possible for individuals to create change on a scale that was previously inconceivable, or that only a large organization could undertake. This has given rise to a new set of funders who are looking to shift the paradigm of 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.

ASTers are individuals committed to making positive change in society, open to absorbing new ideas, challenging conventional notions, and devoted to participating in a growing community of social change leaders. The AST curriculum provides opportunities for:

Personal Growth through Purpose Identification

• Reflect on your foundational values
• Learn the tenants of the ‘purpose mindset’
• Explore intersection of creativity, tech & social impact
• Appreciate the importance of communities, social fabric, and the structure of belonging to creating a better future
• Develop thought-partnerships with your alumni network with whom you can continue learning and creating opportunities for future collaboration
• Improve your effectiveness as you navigate rapidly changing environments.

Professional Development by Crafting an Action Plan & Creating a Network of Innovators Committed to Social Change

• Think more broadly about challenges facing social entrepreneurs
• Participate in a design-based action-planning
• Research innovative tech + policy solutions
• Understand linkages between innovation, policy, design and the value of quick prototyping
• Explore ways to center equity and social justice in your work
• Learn from industry influencers and leading-edge organizations about how to adapt to the current crisis and embrace transformational change
• Improve your effectiveness as a leader and social entrepreneur as you navigate rapidly changing environments

“Thanks to Akhtar and his team for inspiring us to identify our strengths and values and leading us to create a common mindset to grow further as an organization. Akhtar’s work methodology, as well as his team’s flexibility to facilitate the session in both English and Spanish, allowed our team members from more than 12 nationalities to develop personally and professionally their purpose in life. The work we developed together helped us create a path to strengthen the internal communications of our organization and the work of our team in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This exercise fostered new habits and perspectives for us to keep improving our efforts to build a more just, equitable, and caring society.”

— Linda Eddleman, Chief Executive Officer, The Trust for the Americas

“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-Henke, Strategic Director, Center for Socially Engaged Design, University of Michigan College of Engineering

“It became really clear to me that the most responsible thing for our organization to do is to ‘spread’ the impact and allow the beautiful moments that we create to become movements across our country, versus ‘scaling’ our impact…which is a more self-centered approach. I’m excited to leave this space envisioning what it’s like to spread our impact and be able to create as much curriculum around what it is we are doing and ‘open source’ it, so as many folks as possible will be able to take advantage of our methods and practices.”

—  Sean Goode, Executive Director, Choose 180

“The program is an interesting combination of learning about the sectors AND thinking about personal growth and development. What worked really well was the breadth and the level of the people we are speaking with…an incredible variety from really different disciplines, to perspectives to organizations.”

—  Sid Espinosa, Head of Social Impact, GitHub

AST 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.

Contact: Akhtar Badshah at

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

The AST Program is hosted by the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, in partnership with the Catalytic Innovators Group. The program features guidance from world class change-makers and is made possible through the generous contributions of our partners and supporters.

Avanade | Bill and Paula Clapp | Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation | Catalytic Innovators Group | Global Impact | Goldman Sachs | Icertis | Imperative | Microsoft Alumni Network | Microsoft | Mural | Raikes Foundation | Tableau | Vulcan