International Civic and Social Innovation Leader to Address NUI Galway

Sonal Shah
Sep 27 2013 Posted: 12:39 IST

NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative will host US entrepreneur and innovator, Sonal Shah for a keynote address on Thursday, 3 October. The event, which is open to the public, will take place from 11am-12.30pm in the Siobhan McKenna Theatre, Arts Millennium Building on campus.

Sonal has worked in government, business and the non-profit sectors. Until recently she was the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the first White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation focused on investing in and scaling innovative models, leveraging technology, opening information in the social sector to solve some of the nation’s toughest challenges.

Before joining the White House, Sonal led Google’s global development initiatives for its philanthropy,, focusing on leveraging technology and information to help the world’s poor. Prior to Google, she was a Vice-President at Goldman Sachs, Inc. where she worked with the Chairman and CEO in developing and managing the firm’s environmental strategy.

Sonal also has started and managed non-profits. She is the co-founder of an international non-profit, Indicorps, which offers fellowships for the Indian diaspora around the world to work on development projects in India. The fellowship invests in and builds the leadership of the diaspora to be able to solve problems even in the toughest of circumstances. Shah also helped set up the Center for Global Development, the leading development think tank in Washington DC, where she managed the daily operations and developed the policy and advocacy programs for the Center.

Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative, says, “NUI Galway and the CKI are delighted to host Sonal and learn from her vast experiences of social innovation. Sonal has been an inspiration through her role with the Obama Administration and through private enterprises such as Google and will offer a fantastic opportunity for us to grapple with innovation in times of crisis. The Community Knowledge Initiative is committed to fostering community-university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy. Engaging with Sonal will strengthen our work.”

As part of this address, Sonal will talk about her pathway into a career in social innovation, what social innovation means to her and how to imbue within young people a sense of themselves as civic and social innovators.

For further information see or contact Lorraine McIlrath


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