baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
20NTC Session

Innovating from the Front Lines: Using Bottom-Up Innovation to Drive Programming


Bottom-up-innovation is an approach in which leadership invites people on the front-lines of their work to propose innovative ideas that support an organization’s overarching strategic objectives. It’s an approach grounded in the belief that the people closest to daily problems have unique perspectives on how those problems can be solved. Bottom-up-innovation can be very effectively used to drive programming strategies, and it is an especially useful tool as nonprofits increasingly value how critical it is for those on the ground to have a say in the programming that affects them.

In this workshop, participants will learn how to design and manage a bottom-up-innovation program. Furthermore, they will learn how to use this approach to not only create new programs but to also foster employee engagement and support marketing and fundraising. The workshop will be grounded in a real-world experience working with a New York nonprofit to implement this strategy.

Learning Outcomes

  • understand how a bottom-up-innovation strategy can fit into their overall program development strategy.
  • understand how to manage this strategy using innovation management technology.
  • understand how a bottom-up-innovation strategy supports employee engagement, marketing, and fundraising efforts.

Target Audience

Programming Leadership, Innovation Leadership, HR Staff


Case StudyManagementOrg CultureProgram Development


Alejandro Crawford



Alejandro Crawford builds tools, strategies and capacity to transform industries and communities. As CEO of RebelBase, he leads a global team deploying a new operating system for innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. Through gamified challenges and interactive hubs at companies, colleges and communities, RebelBase expands access to entrepreneurship and social enterprise, powers community-driven innovation (CDI), and releases groundbreaking solutions.

As Managing Director of Acceleration Group, Alejandro helps executives and community leaders catalyze bottom-up innovation and harness “acceleration moments.” As a professor of entrepreneurship for the Bard MBA in Sustainability, he equips a generation of changemakers to launch and scale new solutions. Alejandro writes and speaks regularly on retooling for sustainability and rebuilding inclusive economies to launch a different world. He earned his BA in History from Cornell University and his MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Pavel Madray

Director of Strategic Initiatives

RiseBoro Community Partnership

Pavel Madray is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at RiseBoro Community Partnership, a holistic multiservice non-profit organization located in Brooklyn, NY. In this role, Pavel oversees the organization’s strategic initiatives and provides guidance on fundraising and development, special projects, community engagement, and opportunities for social enterprise and innovation. His work includes enhancing cross-organizational cohesion and promoting innovation while strengthening relationships in new and existing communities and maintaining and expanding funding sources. Since 2017, Pavel’s work in this role has led to the creation of programming borne from a recognized need within the communities served by RiseBoro, establishing 8 unique programs, all with a focus on health and food justice, and a combined annual budget of over 2.5 million dollars. 

Before taking on his current role, Pavel worked for RiseBoro’s Empowerment Division as the Director of Strategy and Staff Development. In this capacity, he provided contractual compliance and oversight of several social service programs focused on homelessness prevention, workforce development, mentorship, rehousing, benefits enrollment, and community support. Additionally, he established the framework for professional development within the division and led Empowerment’s strategic efforts into new program areas. In his time at RiseBoro Empowerment, the division added four new programs, grew from 3 sites to 6 sites throughout Bushwick and Brownsville, and saw its annual budget double to 10 million dollars. 

Pavel has worked to encourage opportunities for social entrepreneurship and innovation within RiseBoro and is currently leading RiseBoro’s strategic vision for social service provision that proactively addresses the social determinants of health and is responsive to shifting community needs.

Melisa Baez

Director of Entrepreneurship Training

ASSETS Lancaster

As an alumna of Temple University, Melisa knew she had a passion for creating social change through business and education. After living in Philadelphia and California, she knew Lancaster, where she calls home, was the place she wanted to focus on building a lasting impact.

Melisa served as the director of programs and co-founder at ATTOLLO, where she worked to motivate and guide at-risk youth on a path toward attaining a degree of higher education. Now, as the Director of Entrepreneur Training at ASSETS, Melisa has coached over 700 entrepreneurs, primarily women, empowering them to start their own businesses. Beyond her professional experience, she continues to expand her personal connection with the local and global community. Not only does she volunteer with the students of the Mix at Arbor Place and serve as a Global Shapers for the Lancaster Hub, but she is also a Cordes Fellow focusing on global issues. Melisa sits on the Board of Directors for the Stone Independent School, Lancaster County Community Foundation and sits on the diversity committee for Girls on The Run. Melisa is currently an MBA in Sustainability candidate at Bard.





March 26, 2020


10:30am – 11:45am

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