News and analysis
January 05, 2016

Henry Timms: Reimagining Influence


Henry Timms, 39
Executive Director, 92nd Street Y
Founder, Giving Tuesday
New York

You realize three things in quick succession when you first meet Henry Timms, the executive director of New York’s venerable 92nd Street Y. First: He is not American, but British. Second: He has no background running a cultural institution. And third: The board of the 92nd Street Y made a brilliant hire.

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Henry thinks and cares deeply about how power is distributed and used within organizations and within society. He recently wrote, with Jeremy Heimans, a seminal paper on leadership for the Harvard Business Review titled "Understanding ‘New Power.’ " New power, they wrote, "is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it."

Henry is a world-class new-power channeler. Whether he is launching Giving Tuesday, spearheading an effort to distribute ­iPads to seniors so they can tell their own stories, or just having lunch with me, Henry always gives more than he takes.

Ms. Fine is a nonprofit leader, author, and expert on technology and communications.