Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Commonwealth Club Names Pioneering Businesswoman Dr. Ruth Shapiro First "Social Entrepreneur in Residence"

SAN FRANCISCO (September 28, 2009) --- Following the momentum generated by The Commonwealth Club’s annual dinner earlier this year honoring three Bay Area social entrepreneurs, the Club has officially named Dr. Ruth Shapiro its first Social Entrepreneur in Residence. After having successfully launched several socially responsible businesses herself, including the Hong Kong-based Asia Business Council, Dr. Shapiro will now contribute to the Club’s ongoing mission of creating and developing positive social change at home and abroad.

“Venture capital firms often have entrepreneurs in residence, who work on their own ideas and help foster entrepreneurship within the firm. We believe that model also applies to the non-profit world and social entrepreneurship. We are delighted that Dr. Ruth Shapiro, herself a seasoned social entrepreneur who has started several programs and organizations, will take on this role,” said Club President and CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy.

“The term social entrepreneurship is used widely today but few would define it in the same way," added Shapiro. "The Commonwealth Club applauds social innovation. This year, the annual dinner celebrated the work of three funders -- Bill Draper, the Skoll Foundation and Google.org -- for their landmark efforts to promote social entrepreneurship and innovation. The Club realizes, however, that more public awareness of social innovation models and approaches would go far to increase public support and, ideally, increase funding and activity in this area.”

As the social entrepreneur in residence, Dr. Shapiro will focus on three tasks. First, she will orchestrate a year-long series of programs, including talks by social entrepreneurs, funders, academics, and corporations, focusing on social entrepreneurship. As in the venture capital model, Dr. Shapiro will also work on the business plan for her own non-profit start-up, which will focus on the relationship between business and society. She will also help The Club find new and entrepreneurial ways to promote its goal of educating the public on a wide-ranging set of issues and subjects.

Dr. Ruth Shapiro has built several successful businesses around social missions. Her latest and largest achievement was to create and run the Asia Business Council, a Hong Kong-based membership organization of top CEOs in Asia, committed to sustainable economic development. As its founder, Dr. Shapiro raised the startup capital from private foundations and individuals, recruited key chief executives to develop the initiative, and built the council into the organization it is today. On a day to day basis, Dr. Shapiro oversaw the council’s strategy, management, membership, program and finances. Through this work, Dr. Shapiro gained expertise on issues such as corporate social responsibility, scenario planning, education, training and innovation, corporate governance, energy efficiency, trade policy and regional economic growth.

Before creating the Asia Business Council, Dr. Shapiro worked in the field of international development. In this capacity, she held various management positions and established new program areas at the Academy for Educational Development, and the Harvard Institute of International Development and Global Outlook.

Dr. Shapiro, a Palo Alto resident, recently relocated back to the United States after living in Hong Kong and London for the last six years. She holds a doctorate from Stanford University and Masters degrees from Harvard University and George Washington University. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Dr. Shapiro, contact Riki Rafner, director of media and public relations, at 415-597-6712.


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