Launched in February 2017, the Impact Lab was created as a professional development opportunity for mid-career sustainability professionals working to address global agriculture and food system challenges.
Hosted by the Sustainable Food Lab with support from the Academy for Systems Change, the Impact Lab provides a confidential space for peer-to-peer sharing, capacity building, expert coaching, and exploration of potential partnerships. Fellows are provided with opportunities to engage in workshops, multi-day learning journeys, monthly peer group calls, and one-on-one mentoring.
Today the Impact Lab includes over twenty Fellows from organizations like PepsiCo, Handsome Brook Farms, Unilever, Starbucks, Target, AB InBev, Stonyfield, General Mills, Environmental Initiative, Visa, Mars, Frontier Coop, Farmer’s Fridge, Costco, Rich Products Corporation, Keurig Dr. Pepper and Cargill.
“It is a worthwhile and enriching experience to invest in my leadership development by engaging with trusted practitioners who face many of the same challenges as I do. There is comfort in knowing that we encounter similar challenges, be they personal, organizational or systems-wide, and there is great opportunity and fulfillment in sound boarding these challenges with a collective and shared sense of purpose.”
-Shauna Sadawski, Former Head of Sustainability, Natural & Organic Operating Unit, General Mills
The Impact Lab provides a unique community and structure for professionals to grow and make real impact within their organization and industry.
A Unique Community
Unlike many leadership programs, the Impact Lab is a flexible commitment, allowing Fellows to structure their experience on their own terms. While Fellows engagement might change from month to month or year to year, the Impact Lab remains an important safe space to practice systems leadership.
A Unique Structure
The Impact Lab focuses on building capacity and creating system leaders in these areas:
- Personal Leadership
Fellows learn to manage teams through conflict, bridge cultures, and create engagement while navigating short-term business pressures.
- Strategic Engagement
Fellows learn to engage key people in other functions, lead in industry and create collaborations that scale impacts.
- Impact Delivery
Fellows learn to balance quick wins and game changers, generate measurable impacts, make the business case for farmers and suppliers, and mobilize resources.
“At trade associations and conferences, we all show up as ‘peacocks.’ Here we can share where we’re stuck and get support from the very best of our peers.”
-Impact Lab Fellow
Mentoring & Events
The Impact Lab provides a variety of ways to engage including in-person events, peer phone calls and one-on-one mentoring. All activities are encouraged but not required.
In Person Events
2 annual workshops that provide Fellows with opportunities to learn and practice system leadership skills. Fellows are given the opportunity to share personal stories and receive coaching and advice from peers and mentors.
- Learning Journeys
Fellows are invited to attendee Learning Journeys hosted by the Sustainable Food Lab. Learning Journeys are an opportunity for Fellows to expand their viewpoint about a specific farming system.
- Monthly Phone Calls
Fellows join a small group of peers and Food Lab staff to discuss sticking points in their work, opportunities for pre-competitive collaboration or a variety of other topics.
- One-on-One Mentoring
Food Lab staff, Academy for Systems Change staff and other mentors from the Food Lab community are available for one-on-one sessions throughout the year. Additionally, Fellows are encouraged to work with Food Lab staff to establish an Annual Personal Learning Reflection. This exercise allows Fellows to reflect on areas of improvements and establish goals for the coming year.
- Quarterly Newsletters and What’s App Chit-chat
For fellows who are unable to commit to monthly phone calls, our quarterly newsletter and WhatsApp Group Chat allow for Fellows and Food Lab staff to communicate about important information.
“The Impact Lab is just that, impactful. I am grateful for being in a pre-competitive environment with thought leaders that open your mind to new ways of approaching challenges.”
-Tim Wahlquist, Costco
Impact Lab Fellows form a tight-knit and supportive group bolstered by expert advice and interactive learning opportunities.
Fellow applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The only commitment we ask of Fellows is to show up for events and calls when available.
The annual fee is $5,000 per Fellow (fees are waived for Sustainable Food Lab member organizations). Fees cover all faculty, logistics planning, coaching, and subsidized event costs. Fellows are responsible for covering their own transportation to events and a portion of the lodging and event costs for annual workshops and learning journeys.
Contact Hal Hamilton to learn more: [email protected].
“When I have a question about allocation of resources to issues—human rights versus environment, for example, this group is my best opportunity to think it through.”
-Impact Lab Fellow