VisionSF Spotlight: Changing The World For The Better

By John Diaz
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the six individuals nominated for The San Francisco Chronicle’s third annual “Visionary of the Year” award. According to the award program’s mission statement “Visionary leaders are paradigm changers — individuals who strive to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices.”

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s not easy to single out six visionaries in a region with an abundance of innovators.

This is both the challenge and the pleasure of the challenge that faced the nominating committee for The San Francisco Chronicle’s third annual “Visionary of the Year” award.

The six finalists for the 2017 award follow in the fine tradition of our first two winners: Evan Marwell, whose nonprofit Education SuperHighway has been steadily making progress toward its goal of providing high-speed Internet Access to the nation’s public schools; and Chase Adam, whose nonprofit Watsi has been connecting donors with people needing health care in 23 countries.

This year’s field once again exemplifies the motto of our founding partner, the St. Mary’s School of Economics and Business Administration: “Think globally. Lead responsibly.” That sensibility certainly pervades the bold endeavors in pushing for social and economic justice (Angela Blackwell), expanding skills and opportunities for young women in technology (Kimberly Bryant) innovating in science and education while pursuing a bold goal of eradicating diseases (Priscilla Chan), delivering criminal justice reform (Raj Jayadev) reinventing health care (Sarah Krevans) or providing funding for entrepreneurs with a dream but little chance of conventional financing (Eric Weaver).

These outstanding nominees were selected by committee members with impressive visionary credentials in their own right: Chase Adam, Greg Becker, Emmett D. Carson, Ron Conway, Zhan Li, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Mayor Libby Schaaf and Michael Walker.

I could not be more grateful to the committee members for the time and thought they put into the process. Their knowledge of the community, and appreciation for innovation culture here, produced far more worthy candidates than we could honor tonight.

I hope and expected some to have another chance next year.
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If the experience of past Visionary of the Year nominees and winners is any indication, these six innovators should get a boost from the recognition — which is one reason The Chronicle embarked on this program along with St. Mary’s and presenting partner City National Bank.

Evan Marwell has called his award a “real credibility builder” when meeting with governors about wiring schools in their states. Chase Adam has said the attention from the award helped him with recruiting staff and attracting donors.

Here is a salute to honor these bold innovators and to celebrate the special aura of the San Francisco Bay Area that attracts and nurtures people who want to change the world for the better.

The Chronicle’s VisionSF program and its 3rd annual Visionary of the Year award:

Mission statement:“Visionary leaders are paradigm changers — individuals who strive to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices. As the world faces an increasing number of widespread social and economic challenges, visionary leaders understand the broad impact of the business community and recognize its potential to drive great change.”

How nominees are selected and featured: A group of prominent Bay Area leaders is selected by The Chronicle to identify visionaries who are making a difference in their respective fields. Each of the nominees has been profiled in a series of stories, in the newspaper and on

How a winner is decided: Chronicle Publisher Jeff Johnson, Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper and Editorial Page Editor John Diaz will select the winner from six finalists. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 grant, will be announced at a private event on March 30, 2017.

Past winners: Evan Marwell of Education Superhighway (2015) and Chase Adam of Watsi (2016).

Founding partner: The St. Mary’s College School of Economics and Business Administration. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at

Presenting sponsor:
City National Bank visit the company’s website at

For more on VisionSF visit

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