Pro Bono Perspectives: Advice from Social Good Leaders | npENGAGE

Pro Bono Perspectives: Advice from Social Good Leaders

By on Oct 24, 2018


This September, Common Impact launched a new podcast designed to inspire positive social action by sharing the personal and professional journeys of everyday leaders. When people ask me why they should listen to our new podcast, I share how much I’ve learned from hearing the stories from our inspiring guests — about creating positive change in my community, about how pro bono service can activate a purpose-driven career and how to make a measurable difference for society.  

In addition to helping individuals develop their career and work in the social sector, we also hope to inspire nonprofit and corporate leaders seeking ways to engage their workforce. We have all heard about the social consciousness of millennials, and as this generation moves into leadership positions, we see an increasing demand to create tangible, meaningful impact in their day-to-day work. They want their employer to take a stand on issues of social and environmental importance, give back to the communities in which it operates and involve them in the process. This trend transcends generations, with Baby Boomers, Generation X and Z all demanding more purpose-driven work, while the social sector need for capacity building creates a huge opportunity for those employees to engage. 

As a recap to our first season and in honor of Pro Bono Week (October 21 – 27, 2018), I’m sharing some of the best bits of wisdom that I’ve heard from guests ranging from serial entrepreneurs like Carol Cone and media leaders like Dave Armon to nonprofit visionaries like Harriet Harral and Emily McCann and corporate change-makers like Gary Levante and Blackbaud’s Rachel Hutchisson.  

Here are just a few of the stories that continue to inspire my work at Common Impact and I hope will encourage the npEngage community as you all continue leading important change for social good.   

  • Carol Cone, Founder of Carol Cone On Purpose, explains why she believes CSR is now a business priority, stating  “It is all about the transparency of the internet. When companies could do anything, communication was one way. How are they sourcing their materials, how are they treating their employees, were they giving back to their communities? When you could look online and your social network started to ‘shame and blame’ that was the significant shift.” 
  • Gary Levante, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Berkshire Bank, shares what inspires him to go above and beyond at work and encourage 100% of his colleagues to join him in community volunteerism: “I think that I am incredibly fortunate that I get to get up every day and do what I do.”
  • Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools shares her journey from the corporate sector to now lead a renowned national education nonprofit. Emily also let us in on what she believes is the key to learning at all age, “When we talk about the way people learn it’s through hands-on real world experiences and that is true of children, it’s also true of adults. The days of putting people in a room with 50 of their colleagues to go through a seminar like training hopefully are — or will soon — be over. It is about how you get people in positions where they are working on authentic projects with a team in which they can use those competencies that employers most value.
  • Dave Armon, Chief Marketing Officer at 3BL Media and Publisher of CR Magazine, gives listeners an inside look at his early career as a teenage traffic reporter and the inspiration he hears on a daily basis from members of the 3BL community. As Dave put it best, “That’s the stuff that inspires me. It’s the people around me who have had challenges, who have persevered, who are purpose-driven and don’t give up.” 
  • Harriet Harral, Executive Director at Leadership Fort Worth talks about her work developing the next generation of community leaders in Texas and how moving to support her career and her husband’s work has allowed her to broaden her definition of community and leadership by sharing, “I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to live in different parts of the country because it has one: demonstrated clearly what good people there across all of the regions of this country and two: because I get to learn from different perspectives.” 
  • And Rachel Hutchisson, VP of Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy at Blackbaud, shares her professional journey from publishing to leading community engagement at a growing organization and how she believes philanthropy is for everyone. Later, looking back I realized oh, I was kind of raised to be aware of the environment, sustainability, volunteerism, giving your skills – that philanthropy is something that really is for everyone. I didn’t realize that was the path until I was able to look back on it.” 

We hope you’ll tune in to our podcast and share your thoughts on future guests or topics we should cover on upcoming shows. New episodes are released every other Tuesday and you can subscribe at any of your favorite podcast apps (iTunes, Spotify, Sticher and more) or on our website at   

Please also share what bit of great advice you’ve received as you built your purpose-driven career.


Danielle Holly is CEO of Common Impact, an organization that designs programs that direct companies most strategic philanthropic asset – their people – to the seemingly intractable social challenges they’re best positioned to address. Danielle has supported hundreds of nonprofit organizations on positioning and branding strategies to more effectively scale their models of social impact.  In addition, Danielle has helped numerous corporations navigate the new era in corporate social responsibility and skills-based volunteering, including global powerhouses JPMorgan Chase, Charles Schwab, Marriott International, and Fidelity Investments. She is a contributing writer for Nonprofit Quarterly on strategic corporate engagement.  She is a member of the NationSwell Council, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and Net Impact NYC. You can reach her via email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @dholly8.

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