At UC Berkeley, he created and teaches the transformative course, “Becoming a Changemaker,” and as a Faculty Director for Berkeley Executive Education programs.
As a social entrepreneur, he co‐founded StartSomeGood.com, ran Sweden’s most prominent social innovation incubator, Reach for Change and worked at Change.org
He consults, and advises organizations with the mission of helping people from all walks of life become changemakers, and has given talks in venues around the world from Cambodia to Ukraine, and at the White House, UN agencies, and companies like Accenture and AirBnB.
A graduate of UCLA and Georgetown University, Alex loves travel adventures (39 countries and counting), rooting for the underdog, and spending time with his two favorite changemakers: his wife, Rebecca, and their toddler son.
Darius Graham is a lawyer and leader in the areas of philanthropy, social impact, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Across roles and sectors, Darius innovates within institutions, builds community connections rooted in trust and reciprocity, and leads organizations to growth and sustainability. As a director at one of the largest private charitable foundations in the U.S., Darius guides the distribution of over $30 million in grants annually to nonprofits working across the areas of housing, health, jobs, and education in Baltimore and beyond. Previously at Johns Hopkins University, Darius served as the founding director of two university-wide innovation and entrepreneurship programs (Social Innovation Lab and the FastForward U student innovation hub) where he helped students, faculty, and community members transform new technologies and novel ideas into viable ventures.
Darius is a Civil Society Fellow with The Aspen Institute and ADL and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. He serves as a trustee, chair of the public engagement committee, and co-chair of the search committee at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He also serves on the steering committee for the Baltimore Young Families Success Fund (the mayor’s guaranteed income pilot program) and on the Baltimore advisory board for My Brother’s Keeper, a collective of public and private sector leaders committed to improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Darius is an adjunct professor at Goucher College where he teaches graduate courses on social entrepreneurship and public sector innovation. He’s been a speaker at SXSW, SOCAP, and Startup Champions; published in The Baltimore Sun, Inside Philanthropy, and more; and received honors from Ebony, Baltimore Business Journal, and more. Darius’ work and insights are highlighted in two books, Becoming a Changemaker: An Actionable, Inclusive Guide to Leading Positive Change at Any Level and In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Disrupting Business as Usual. He is the author of Being the Difference: True Stories of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the World.
Q1: Several years ago, you and I were both based in DC and were founders of separate organizations that shared a mission of helping people make a positive impact in their communities. Fortunately, our paths crossed and I came to know you and the organization you were leading. So take us back to the very beginning of StartSomeGood.com. Where did the idea come from and how did you begin?
Q2: How did that experience transition into your next role in Sweden?
Q3: Whether it was from StartSomeGood.com or Sweden, was there some commonality that stood out to you about the people who were leading change or about the systems/issues they were trying to change?
Q4: Currently, you’re on the faculty of the Haas Business School at UC Berkeley leading a very popular course. So now you’ve gone from founding and leading a startup, to directly helping other mission driven startups, to teaching students how to make a difference. What motivated you to shift into this teaching role?
Q5: Tell us about the course and what you see as its impact.
Q6: You recently published a book that builds on the course. And it’s fascinating because in addition to teaching students at Berkeley, you’ll also get to share your insights with the world through this book. How did Becoming A Changemaker come about and what do you hope people will take away from it?
Q7: I have been reading it and there were so many things that stood out to me but I want to ask you about just a few here in the time we have. First, let’s talk about challenging the status quo. In the book you talk about how this is a key thing that changemakers do and that we have to be really careful and thoughtful. Say more about that.
Q8: Another concept in the book and one I’ve heard you talk about is micro leadership. What sparked this concept for you?
Q9: There are so many good stories in the book about real people who are leading change. Can you highlight one for us?
Q10: Where can people go to find the book or learn more about your course?