Canopy Social Impact Event Series kickoff!

UPDATE: Somerville Cable Access TV has a recap of the event available HERE, if you missed any of the discussion or want to review some of the Q&A. Thank you to our premiere media sponsor SCATV for capturing this and future Social Impact Series.
Join us for the Canopy Social Impact Event Series kickoff!
Where: Cohen Auditorium, Tufts University
40 Talbot Avenue
Somerville, MA 02144When: Thursday, January 28, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EST)
Every month, Canopy will be hosting a vibrant discussion that focuses on the most pressing local, national and global issues facing us today. By bringing together local, national and internationally-renowned experts who are working towards solutions to the same problems, in distinctly different realms–such as government, academia and the tech sector–we can galvanize their efforts and amplify their positive impact. We also believe that by sparking these untapped collaborations and this cross-pollination of ideas, we can collectively tackle our most complex challenges more efficiently and more effectively.

Creating diverse panels that are open to the public will also serve as a catalyst for reaching equally diverse audiences. Canopy’s outreach efforts extend into the public schools, churches, technology companies, nonprofits, startups, coffee shops, college campuses and community centers–and are further enhanced by taking our message directly to the streets in grassroots fashion.

What also makes Canopy gatherings different is our event format. Our keynote speakers illuminate the framework for the moderated panel discussion that follows. What is also unique is the addition of a “Canopy Featured Nonprofit” at every event. At the end of the moderated panel discussion, we will introduce our featured nonprofit, who is hitting the respective challenge head on. Attendees are then encouraged to visit that nonprofit’s information table to sign petitions and volunteer forms, receive informative pamphlets and purchase merchandise.

The Canopy Social Impact Event Series model strives to:
(1) Connect people and cross-pollinate ideas
(2) Educate attendees and panelists

(3) Provide opportunities to get involved by supporting a local nonprofit either financially or through direct involvement.

So in three words, the objective of the Canopy Social Impact Event series is to:
Cross-pollinate. Educate. Activate. 

All funds raised through individual event donations are split 50/50 with the Canopy Featured Nonprofit. This is intended to empower their work and to keep the event series sustainable.
We encourage you to make a contribution of any size to help us continue this mission.


This month’s Canopy Social Impact Series event theme is: 

The Role of Innovation in International Peace and Security

This month’s Canopy Featured Nonprofit is:

Massachusetts Peace Action


Keynote Speaker

Professor Noam Chomsky – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


John Grebe, News Host and Producer at WZBC 90.3 FM Boston
John Grebe has served as host and producer of the weekly news interview program “Sounds of Dissent” on WZBC 90.3 FM in Boston since 1998. Prior to this, John had directed technical operations at WMFO-FM, where he also produced the “In Public” news program since 1992. Alongside 24 years of weekly news radio, John has also been a systems administrator and consultant on computers and networks.


Panelist 1 – Kade Crockford, Director, Technology for Liberty Program, American Civil Liberities Union of Massachusetts (ACLU) where she serves as the Director of the Technology for Liberty Program of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Kade works to protect and expand the First and Fouth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just for the society in general but their primary targets – people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents. Find Kade’s blog, Privacy Matter, at, the ACLU’s dedicated privacy anbd technology website.

Panelist 2 Fox Harrell, Associate Professor, MIT CSAIL, is a researcher exploring the relationship between imaginative cognition and computation. His research involves developing new forms of computational narrative, gaming, social media, and related digital media based in computer science, cognitive science, and digital media arts. The National Science Foundation has recognized Harrell with an NSF CAREER Award for his project “Computing for Advanced Identity Representation.”

Panelist 3Paul Heroux, Massachusetts State Representative, serves on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Paul is a prolific writer and has published over 300 public policy columns and is a frequent guest on Russia Today International discussing Iran and the greater Middle East. Some of the topics he has written on for the Huffington Post include crime policy, mental illness, and the Middle East. Paul’s experience prior to becoming an elected official includes working in prison and jail administration, and working in the Middle East. Paul has a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics, a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard School of Government, a Master’s in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Southern California.

Panelist 4Nandini (Dini) Merz, Program Director at the Proteus Fund where she guides the work of the Columbe Foundation. Dini recommends and evaluates Foundation strategies based on it’s vision an goals, identifies grants and activities to advance these strategies, designs governance structures to facilitate the work of the foundation. facilitates grant review meetings and represents the foundation in the progressive community. Dini also serves on the Steering Committee of the Peace and ecurity Funders Group. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from The National Law Center, George Washington University in 1993, and graduated cum laude in international relations from Cornell University.



5:30 – Doors open
6:00 – An overview of the Canopy mission & community services provided
6:05 – Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone delivers welcoming remarks
6:10 – Noam Chomsky’s keynote talk begins
6:40 – Chomsky Q&A begins
7:00 – Brief intermission
7:15 – Panel discussion begins
8:15 – Panel Q&A begins
8:30 – Massachusetts Peace Action is introduced and a 30-minute networking session begins
9:00 – Our first Canopy Social Impact Series event concludes