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Making real change that impacts real lives

By Kyle Brost, CEO, Spark Policy Institute

When I was a young boy my father moved to a remote island in Alaska. I spent some middle school years and every summer after on this remote island. At one point I was fortunate enough to get a job with Ounalashka Corporation, the Alaska Native Village corporation for Unalaska, Alaska.

While working for Ounalashka Corporation, I was able to help reclaim and restore land and site work performed during World War II. The island served as a base and support center.

This experience gave me an early view of the complexity involved in public policy and specifically where public policy and corporations meet. Alaska Native corporations were a result of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) passed in 1971. The ANCSA led to the creation of regional and village corporations to manage 45 million acres owed to natives.

These corporations have done very well financially. In fact, in 2010 eight of the top 10 corporations in Alaska were owned by Alaska Natives. While there have been many wonderful outcomes, the impact has not been as broad or deep as many hoped. The reason likely relates to something I’ve told countless clients; which is that our systems (or organizations or even our lives) are perfectly designed to get the results that we’re getting. If we want broad and deep impacts, we must evaluate the very systems creating those impacts.

This is the core reason that I chose to join Spark Policy Institute. Each member of Spark’s team is keenly aware of the need to evaluate entire systems and phenomenally skilled at doing so. Already, I have watched the team push themselves, each other, and clients to think beyond themselves and to engage the broader systems involved, and our clients have thanked them for it.

For me personally, I promise to carry the Spark tradition of thinking strategically and systemically forward. I will apply my expertise in strategy and organizational design, along with my passion for impacting real and meaningful change, to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. I will push all of us to consider and engage the broad systems that defy labels of public or private, to define our strategies in ways that can drive efforts, and to effectively evaluate those efforts in order to learn and adapt appropriately.

In this way, collectively and collaboratively, we can make real change that impacts real lives.