Inside the Social Innovation Forum – A Northeastern Co-op’s Perspective

Reflecting on my six months of co-op and experiential learning at the Social Innovation Forum
  • By Annazulia Oomen-Lochtefeld
  • Published on July 25, 2018
SIF2018Showcase - Annazulia

Coming into my co-op at the Social Innovation forum with a background of interests in environmental sustainability, public health, gender equity, and education, the diversity of organizations in SIF’s portfolio gave me hope that I would finally figure out the social issue topic I was most interested in and want to pursue with my career. However, my time here has introduced me to so many interesting and innovative organizations that choosing a favorite has become more challenging than ever. Even just the 2018 Social Innovators, like Fathers’ Uplift and The Renew Collaborative, have introduced me to new social issue areas and their innovative solutions that weren’t even on my radar before.

Having lived in and around Boston for most of my life, at the Social Innovation Forum I hoped to learn how to bring innovative solutions to social issues to a global scale from my own community. My time here has shown me Boston through a new lens, as a city with so many passionate and creative groups of people committed to social change. SIF discusses complex problems in the Boston community, but never without also presenting potential solutions and highlighting organizations that have been working on them for years.

Over the course of my six months on the Social Innovation Forum team, I was a part of planning over 35 events, many of which filled the room with over 100 people. As faces became more and more familiar when greeting attendees at our events, I have come to learn the strength that this community of supporters has. They come from many different backgrounds -- some are academic experts, some are funders, some are community organizers, some are other nonprofits coming to learn or collaborate, and some offer their connections to others. The wide range of social issue topics also brings together people with many different interests, all working towards creating more equity in the greater Boston community.

As the Special Events Co-op, I was very involved with logistic planning for these many internal and external events, including managing RSVP’s, preparing event materials, organizing communications, graphic design, and setting up event spaces. Beyond learning all these hard skills, actually attending all the events we hosted gave me so many learning opportunities from Innovator presentations, training sessions, and coworking gatherings.

With the SIF team, I also had the opportunity to attend three different racial equity trainings at the Trinity Boston Foundation. I was able to witness SIF’s deep reflection on ways to create more diversity, equity, and inclusion internally while continuing to further that mission in the community around us as well. Beyond the workplace and the nonprofit sphere, these trainings gave me tools to critically recognize the way that racial power dynamics manifest around us and actions to address them on a daily basis.  

Both SIF’s open office layout and culture of open dialogue among the staff really made me feel welcomed as a part of the SIF team these past six months. This group of passionate, optimistic, incredibly hard-working individuals has found a really special place in my heart and has a force that I know has a deep impact on the greater Boston community and beyond.

Thank you to the Social Innovation Forum team for giving me so many opportunities for growth and leadership. I am excited to see how the organization evolves over the coming years!


Annazulia has been at the Social Innovation Forum from January to June 2018 as the Special Events Co-op. She is finishing her second year at Northeastern University studying International Affairs, Anthropology, and Social Enterprise.

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