Announcing the First BIF2017 Storytellers!
We’re thrilled to announce the first four storytellers scheduled for the BIF2017 Summit! New to the BIF Summit is singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier, and we also welcome the return of a few of our favorite storytellers from previous Summits — Alex Osterwalder, Teny Gross, and Len Schlesinger.
Born in New Orleans but abandoned at birth, Mary Gauthier was adopted after a year in an orphanage. Her relationship with her adopted family was troubled, and she ran away at 15. Despite an ongoing struggle with substance abuse, Gauthier studied philosophy at Louisiana State University and cooking at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, after which she opened a Cajun restaurant, Dixie Kitchen, in Boston's Back Bay.
After becoming sober in 1990, Gauthier dedicated herself full-time to songwriting and a music career. In 1997, at age 35, she released her debut album, also called Dixie Kitchen. Her acclaimed major label debut, 2005’s Mercy Now, cemented her reputation as a gifted songwriter. Her music has been praised by the Wall Street Journal, the Rolling Stone, NPR, and the New York Times, among others. In addition to touring, Gauthier gives songwriting workshops and participates in the SongwritingWith:Soldiers project. She lives in Nashville and appears frequently on the Grand Ole Opry.
Teny Gross recently started an Institute of Nonviolence in Chicago, inspired by his work with the Boston Ceasefire framework and with Providence’s Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, which he launched and ran for 15 years. Gross’s conviction is that violence, like cancer, is a predictable and curable condition. His foremost emphasis is on kindness and a determination that violence is a form of negative relationship, that it is rarely random, and therefore, can be transformed by positive relationships.
The new Institute’s goal is to reduce gang- and group-related violence in specific neighborhoods in Chicago. To accomplish that, the Institute will bring nonviolence training to community settings, prisons and schools, as well as practice street outreach, victim response to violent crime, employment services, and enrichment activities.
Gross is a former Israeli Army sergeant who moved to Boston in 1989. He holds a BFA from Tufts University and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard.
Alexander Osterwalder is an entrepreneur, speaker and business model innovator. He describes himself as “obsessed with making strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship simple, practical, and applicable." Osterwalder co-authored 2010’s Business Model Generation, a global bestseller on business model innovation. His Business Model Canvas, a tool to visualize, challenge and re-invent business models, is used by leading organizations around the world, such as GE, P&G, Ericsson, and 3M. He is also co-author of Value Proposition Design, published in 2014.
Osterwalder co-founded the software company Strategyzer.com, which offers software and training on business model innovation and strategy. He is a frequent keynote speaker and guest lecturer in top universities around the world, including Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, IESE, and IMD. He holds a PhD from HEC Lausanne, Switzerland.
Len Schlesinger is the the Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He teaches in the Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development program, which is designed to give students meaningful opportunities to act like leaders and translate their ideas into practice.
Schlesinger has had more than three decades of leadership expertise in industry and academia, helping students and business professionals alike navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams to achieve common goals. He spent 15 years at the helm of several influential organizations, including Babson College, Limited Brands, and Au Bon Pain, before becoming an HBS professor.
Schlesinger has consulted and lectured on service quality, customer satisfaction, and organizational change for more than 200 major corporations, nonprofit organizations, governments, and international leadership organizations around the world. His writings on entrepreneurship, service management, and organizational management have been widely published. He has written or co-written 12 books and numerous articles for academic audiences as well as for the New York Times, Fast Company, and the Harvard Business Review.
Schlesinger holds a DBA from Harvard Business School, an MBA from Columbia University, a BA in American Civilization from Brown University, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson College.