November 14, 2012

5 Qualities That Bring About Social Change

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation/Michael Maidenberg, special to El Nuevo Herald

Alberto Ibargüen (left), president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation surveys damage in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

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Alberto Ibargüen sees five common qualities in people who produce social change: figuring out what needs to change and then showing the vision, courage, knowledge, and tenacity to make things better.

Of those qualities, tenacity is the most elusive—and the most valuable, says Mr. Ibargüen, chief executive of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

"Social change takes time," he says. "It's one of the biggest problems I find with the cycles of philanthropy. We tend to work as organizations that have calendar years or fiscal years, and social change doesn't work on those schedules."

In this episode of Making Change, Mr. Ibargüen explains how his foundation has worked with other organizations to solve problems, including helping to rebuild Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina.

Hildy Gottlieb is the co-founder of Creating the Future and author of "The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing 'Nonprofit Organizations' to Create the Future of Our World." In this podcast, Making Change, she interviews leaders to discuss how those who are working for the greater good can effect more social change. New episodes of Making Change appear once a month.