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20NTC Session Proposal

Better, Not New: Dispelling The Myth Of Tech Innovation

Submitted by: Ash Shepherd NTEN Member badge |


Session description: Our cultural definition of innovation often focuses on newness and uniqueness – e.g., the first organization to use the latest social media platform or the only one in the community with a mobile app. However, innovation for social impact that successfully ties to mission and community needs is often small, invisible to the public, and requires investment in existing systems and staff. Innovation is not a new tool but a better way to use the tools we have for better outcomes. Focusing on innovation defined by only new and exclusive things is not equitable. This session will focus on both research highlights and recommendations for dismantling white dominant culture in your organization and advancing the culture of innovation in an equitable way within your team and organization.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the ways that white dominant culture shows up in your organization
  • Resources to help identify indicators based on the research of leading organizations
  • How to prioritize areas for improvement in your organization


Amy Sample Ward



Driven by a belief that the nonprofit technology community can be a movement-based force for positive change, Amy is NTEN’s CEO and former membership director. Her prior experience in direct service, policy, philanthropy, and capacity-building organizations have also fueled her aspirations to create meaningful, inclusive, and compassionate community engagement and educational opportunities for all organizations.

Amy inspires the NTEN team and partners around the world to believe in community-generated change. She believes technology can help nonprofits reach their missions more effectively, efficiently, and inclusively, and she’s interested in everything from digital equity to social innovation.

Tristan Penn

Community Engagement & Equity Manager


Tristan has worked in nonprofit for the past 14 years with primarily Boys & Girls Clubs and is passionate about youth development, nonprofit administration, nonprofit community engagement, organizational best practices, as well as diversity, equity & inclusion.

Tristan earned a B.S. from the University of Kansas in Psychology – Child and Family Development with a Minor in Classical Greek Antiquity and is currently getting his Masters in Organizational Leadership and Psychology from Colorado State University.

In his free time, Tristan likes to sample the beers that Portland’s breweries have to offer, go to shows, lift weights, watch KU basketball, socialize with friends, and spoil his niece and nephews.

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March 15, 2019


1:15pm – 2:30pm

CFRE Credits

NFR - 1.25

Collaborative Notes

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Session Evaluation

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