Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Center of Greg’s Own

I can’t add much to the many moving tributes paid to Greg Dees at the memorial event held on February 11th at his beloved Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.  I've watched much of the video, read many of the blog posts, written my own, and remembered the sweet and brilliant man I knew far less well than so many others.

I do, however, have one question:  What would it take to name CASE in his honor?  

Speaking for absolutely no one but myself, I ask this for two reasons.  First, and most obviously, because it was Greg’s labor of love and genius.  Second, because I am indebted every day to the extraordinary work that emerges from his descendants.

I’ve had the great privilege and tremendous fun of guest-teaching Cathy Clark’s class in social entrepreneurship, and I’ve gotten to know many of her gifted colleagues.  But as someone who makes a substantial part of his living keeping up with the prodigious scholarship in the field, I can attest to the singular brilliance of the work coming out of CASE.  To mention just two of many examples, their work on scaling social impact is second to none, and their “Impact Investor” collaboration with Pacific Community Venture’s InSight (Ben Thornley) and ImpactAssets (Jed Emerson) is nothing less than seismic.

None of this would have happened without Greg.  Now, Ed Skloot might be right that social entrepreneurship itself “is the legacy he left which we now can assume.”  But I’m not so confident that we’ll always remember how we got here. 

And so I ask, could we have the J. Gregory Dees Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, in deserved honor of the man who really was the better angel of our nature?