Network Innovation Summit

Networks in Times of Crisis | May 18, 2020

Network Innovation Summit
At no time in history has humanity been more connected than we are now. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light just how interconnected we are on a global scale. As we move through this historic time, it will become increasingly important for us to understand and effectively leverage our interconnections—to thoroughly understand and implement solutions to the complex myriad of challenges that will arise in the wake of what’s happening in the world.

As a community of network innovators, we are uniquely positioned to generate valuable insight and expertise that our communities, our governments, all of humanity desperately need at this critical time.

Join us for the first annual Network Innovation Summit, a virtual 1-day conference, to engage with leading experts on network thinking and to collaborate with network innovators from around the world. Together we will explore how our field can help lead humanity through this pivotal time.

Be a part of this critical conversation.

This unique program will bring together big thinkers, network enthusiasts, and innovative practitioners in a design sprint format to consider big questions, define the problem space, and iterate on solutions. We will frame the systemic challenges to health, education, philanthropy, climate, cities,
and rural communities related to networks in times of crisis. We will focus our efforts on questions of value, ethics, big data, accountability, and innovation as a means to foster learning, generate inspiration, and move toward innovative solutions.

What questions are we asking & exploring?

What are the systemic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across sectors?

How do we maintain social health in a climate of self-isolation?

How can we more effectively track and share critical resources and information across sectors?

How can we gather accurate information, share data, and also respect privacy?

How do we address health access, social equity, and racial divides in an interconnected society?

Our goal is to provoke authentic conversations that push the limits of what it means to have an increasingly connected society, and to pave the way for the future of Networks. We hope you’ll join us on May 18th!

2020 NIS Big Picture Schedule
The Event is an All-Day Virtual Design Sprint



Future of Networks Framing


Big Questions

In a series of Ted-Talk style presentations, the global and systemic impact of networks are laid out, focusing on “big questions” and times of crisis.

Rachel Beisel, Cable Labs

Soma Saha, WE in the World

Charles Rutheiser, AECF


COVID – 19 Networks in Times of Crisis

A COVID-19 Keynote and Panel will flush out the systemic implications COVID has had on their fields/communities.



Problem Zone



Impacts on the Sectors




A panel of experts, foundation officers, and program staff will articulate in brief presentations how networks impact their specific fields: Health and Health Equity/Access, Education, Philanthropy, Rural Communities, Criminal Justice, Housing, and Social Services

Emily Lockwood, Gates

Jason Greer, CCMCN

Chris Bui, CO Health Found





Problem Zone Workshops

Attendees will work with their tables to bring their own experiences and expertise to a systems mapping exercise that will flush out the problems presented (or new ones).


Table leaders will be assigned to each table and lead the exercises

Solution Centers



Ideas to Action


We will move into solutions with a special speaker presentation on how to move from ideas to action from #NeverAgainTech

Shreya Nallapati, #NeverAgainTech




Solution Center Workshops

Attendees will go back to their tables to translate their problem definitions into solutions, completing the systems mapping exercise with a focus on the future: 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year from now.

Table leaders will complete each table’s exercise


Meet our Network Innovation Summit Speakers

Shreya Nallapati
Founder & Executive Director

Dr. Soma Saha
Executive Lead,

WE in the World
Dr. Charles Rutheiser
Senior Associate-Annie E Casey Foundation
Rachel Beisel
Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer,
Cable Labs
Emily Lockwood
Senior Program Officer,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Danielle Varda
CEO Visible Network Labs, Co-Director, CU Center on Network Science
Chris Bui
Senior Program Officer, CO Health Foundation
Jason Greer
CEO, Colorado Community Managed Care Network

Past Training Testimonials

  • “I really enjoyed the anecdotes and stories, and appreciated the guided practice of reframing and collaborating. It gave us real practice. Roleplaying was great too because we were able to learn about how things could be improved, what went wrong, and how to fix it. The sessions were helpful and informative, thank you!”

    -Previous Training Attendee

  • “Power and equity are both concepts I picked up that I will be bringing back. Also, network structure’s impact on outcomes made me think about my own network structure and what was happening. I liked this set of speakers! Thank you, it was a great three days. The instruction was very helpful and the group was the perfect size!”

    -Previous Training Attendee

2020 NIS In-Progress Detailed Schedule
All Times in Mountain Time

Take your time arriving at our virtual venue, finding a table, and watching a tutorial on how to interact throughout the day.  Get yourself a coffee or tea, find a comfortable chair, get your camera and microphone on, and see who else is in the room!

Meet Dr. Danielle Varda, CEO of Visble Network Labs and CO-Director of the Center on Network Science at the University of CO Denver, as she opens the summit with a brief comment to set the context in the field of network science.

Jonathan Mischke, VP of Branding and Marketing at VNL, will set the tone for the day by grounding us all around the enormity of the task ahead of us – to deeply understand the impact of a hyper connected world, as both a systems problem and the ultimate path to solutions.

Dr. Charles Rutheiser from the Annie E Case Foundation will lead the day by introducing a series of “Big Questions” that we face in the future of networks, especially in times of extrodinary crisis such as our shared experience of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

Meet the other amazing network innovators who are joining together for the NIS. These peers represent practitioners, thought leaders, and researchers. They come from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. You will get the chance to work with them through the day and in this morning network activity, you will get the chance to meet a few!

Join thought leaders from tech, data science, and community building to frame why we cannot wait another day to address the Future of Networks.

Join thought leaders from tech, data science, and community building to frame why we cannot wait another day to address the Future of Networks.

Join this dynamic hour as we dig in to the network effects that enabled COVID-19 to bring the global community to a screeching halt, and how the ripple effects of this event are transcending into every aspect of our social, health, and economic lives.

This 45 minute panel of speakers will dive deep into how the big questions presented in the morning have systemic implications for Health, Education, Philanthropy, and Rural Communities, especially in times of crisis.

Speakers include: Jason Greer (CEO of CO Community Managed Care Network), Chris Bui (Program Officer, CO Health Foundation), Emily Lockwood (Program Officers, Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation K-12 Team), and others.

In this 45 minute working session, your team will have the opportunity to engage in a collaborative, interactive systems mapping exercise. The goal of this session is to provide a forum for attendees to think through the implications of connected systems and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the sectors and outcomes we are most involved in.

You won’t want to miss this inspiring talk by Shreya Nallapati, Founder of #NeverAgainTech on how she turned the impossible into a network of innovative solutions to address the problems of school shooting head on.

Break into small groups for a fast-paced hackathon style workspace to iterate on potential solutions to the big questions presented early in the day. Pitch your ideas to a panel of judges and go home with a prize for innovative ideas.

More details to come soon!

Hotel & Travel Information

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Network Innovation Summit has changed to a virtual format. There will be no in-person event, unless conditions change dramatically. Please contact us with further questions at

The Network Innovation Summit (NIS) tackles questions on the Future of Networks related to values, ethics, social justice, regulation, and opportunities. You will experience a “design sprint” style day to dig in on problems and solutions. NIS brings together big thinkers, network enthusiasts, and innovative practitioners to articulate problems, engage in systems thinking, and iterate on solutions that an increasingly networked society presents.

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