The Best Way to Improve the Future is to Shape It

By Daniel Stein, President, SOC Institute

I’m happy to report that 2021 has gotten off to a good start for Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI), with the successful completion of three initiatives:

NAA Virtual Symposium ‘Flipbook’ Program
  • Our National Action Agenda (NAA) Symposium to Advance Upstream Social Determinants and Health Equity, held last month in partnership with the Stanford University Center for Population Health Sciences. Learn more about the event and view its recorded sessions.
  • A court-improvement project, with the Pew Charitable Trusts, to make the nation’s civil justice system more accessible, efficient and affordable. SOCI’s role in this effort was to identify emerging/innovative technologies and practices to help achieve those aims.
  • The “building” phase of our National Interoperability Collaborative, enabled by the Kresge Foundation and other generous sponsors. Today, with almost 1,300 members, NIC serves as the vehicle for driving the NAA and our other on-the-ground implementation activities.

All of us at SOCI extend our deep gratitude to the supporters of our work – all of which shares this common goal: to advance socioeconomic, racial and health equity through better interoperability, information-sharing and use of pioneering technologies. Most of all, thank you to the hundreds of organizational leaders, government officials, technologists, scholars and other professionals who helped to make our symposium so successful, as well as the thousands who have participated (and continue to participate) in NIC, NAA and other SOCI activities.

Now it’s time to move forward, and we plan to do that with the guiding belief that “the best way to improve the future is to shape it.” Here are just a few of the ways we intend to contribute to positive, systemic change in our country:

  • Continuing the development, demonstration and deployment of Project Unify, our proof-of-concept technical blueprint designed to significantly advance secure data-sharing across health, human services and other domains (child welfare, education, courts, etc.). Unify is initially being operationalized with the Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) project in New Jersey, which is an NAA supporter and implementation partner.
  • Implementation of the NAA’s action recommendations, notably including our work to make consent management a nationally accepted “utility.” This effort focuses on creating an open-source, replicable means of securing people’s approval (affirmative consent) for the sharing of their personal information. We are beginning to implement NAA’s key recommendations for structural change with NJ InCK, with the goal of creating models that can be customized to jurisdictions across the nation.
  • Providing knowledge, thought leadership, consultation and education, pointedly including SOCI’s new InterOptimability Training and Certification Curriculum. Initial organizations engaging with the program include the Fairfax County (VA) Department of Family Services and the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Learn more about ITCC, how it can benefit your work and sign up for the first two courses.
  • Planning and execution of SOCI’s 14th National Symposium, which will be held in person (hooray!) in California in early 2022. Its primary focus will be on assessing and furthering the progress of the NAA’s action recommendations (such as the consent utility), Project Unify and the InCK project in NJ. Write to to learn how you can support or participate in the symposium.

Please take a look at our websites, and, where you’ll find more information about each of our initiatives and much more. We also invite you to sign up for NIC’s “community of networks” so that you can help us shape a healthier, more equitable future for individuals, families and communities across the United States and, hopefully, beyond.


Stewards of Change Institute has succeeded in building the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC) and its “community of networks.” Now we are asking for your financial support so that – together – we can sustain our vital work.

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