Who We Are
We envision a thriving planet stewarded by leaders who are self-aware, mature, competent, and connected.
Our mission is to convene and develop leaders and companies who value connection, community, and courageous leadership.
… that unearthing the inner wisdom, purpose, and power of each person has the potential to shift culture.
… in creating experiences that include space for introspection, reflection and questions to explore the unknown and to reimagine what’s possible.
… that by fully showing up for ourselves and each other, we create the conditions in which we will all flourish and thrive.
… that claiming individual dignity and the full expression of self is powerful.
… that our greatest successes arise out of interdependence; that being held and celebrated in community accelerates our individual and collective advancement.
… that changes in systems and structures of leadership are powered by the grace and maturity to adapt, transform, and grow in generational time.
In 2003, Martin Smith and Blake Bible sought out a place to explore the newest, previously unnamed sector of work – social entrepreneurship. Not finding learning opportunities or communities within traditional institutions, they created their own container for exploration: StartingBloc.
The first StartingBloc Institute was held in 2005 and immediately, it became clear that not only were mission-driven professionals seeking a space to explore their new business ideas, but they were also seeking community and a container for support. In those days, StartingBloc was built for 18-27 year olds and served primarily as a launch point for leaders creating a career as a social entrepreneur.
From 2007-2013, under the leadership of Jo Opot and later Adriana Pentz Zagorski, StartingBloc broadened the scope of our work. We moved from focusing solely on social entrepreneurs to focusing on the social impact sector as a whole, recognizing the need to support leaders from all different types of industries and sectors as they brought more of their values into their work.
We were driven by some of the emerging paradigms of that time: the desire to balance both purpose and profit and a focus on real-world business challenges. We had business leaders present challenges in the room and Fellows engaged in a case competition at our Institutes.
In this time, StartingBloc hosted our first Institute outside of the United States (London 2007 & 2008) and diversified both in terms of age and industry. Our Fellowship community grew from a few hundred to a couple of thousand and we reached more leaders around the globe.
Under the leadership of Cesar Gonzalez and presently, Kristine Sloan, StartingBloc has taken a step back and begun to look at the landscape of work and leadership as a whole. Now, our position is that no matter where you’re working or what your company’s intended focus is, there must be an ethical and moral foundation to what you’re doing.
We are focused on emerging a new paradigm of work and leadership that moves the world away from traditional norms of accumulation and command-and-control towards distribution and trust. In these years, we’ve intentionally woven historical context into our programming and we’ve brought equity and transformative justice into our core curriculum and our community practices. We’ve become much more intergenerational and diverse.
StartingBloc is an organization that serves to support a community and advance a new paradigm of leadership.
Our Fellowship is made up of 3,100+ leaders living in 56 countries around the world with 18 activated regions. We’re 65% people of color, 60% female or non-binary, and represent ages 18-70.
From 2020-2022, we will lean into our global community and launch StartingBloc Institutes and workshops in cities and communities around the globe. We will fundraise and resource the organization to better support and enable our community of Fellows and partners. We will share more of the stories of our Fellows and uplift their work as an example of what is possible.
On our minds for the next few years: How might a new paradigm of leadership pave the way towards just transition within the climate crisis? How might we mobilize leadership and collective power to achieve racial and gender justice? What are the trends in organizational design that reflect a commitment to self-awareness, maturity, competence, and connection?
And finally, How might we center our organization in multiple locations around the world, so that we can better localize our programming to support the needs of global leaders, while keeping the thread of our community strong across locations?
Transparency reports + legal info
Each year we endeavor to share our impact, our financials, our successes, and our failures with the intention to stay accountable, build trust, and share what we are learning.
501c3 status since 2003