Harnessing the Power of Big Data for Social Good

Date & Time:
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Soda Activity Center: Plaza, 1928 St. Marys Road, Moraga, CA 94575
View a map and get directions.

To RSVP now, click here.

The amount of data generated in this digital age is growing exponentially. Data scientists estimate that we produce 2.5 quintillion (2.5*1018) bytes of data every day and that more than 90% of the data in the world today has been produced in the last 2-3 years. This is Big Data.

Everything from the data sent by the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter to the vacation photos we post on Facebook is part of this Big Data. According to the National Science Foundation, big data sets are “large, diverse, complex, longitudinal, and/or distributed data sets generated from instruments, sensors, Internet transactions, email, videos, click streams, and/or all digital sources available today or in the future.” Thus, Big Data is often described as having three characteristics: volume (amount of data), velocity (speed of data collection and processing) and variety (number of types of data).

Big Data can be harnessed by businesses, non-profit organizations and governments for making considerable improvements in the quality of our lives and across several domains: from improved use of natural resources, energy efficiency and agricultural productivity to effective control and spread of infectious diseases. The report “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values,” published by the Obama Administration in 2014, notes that computational capabilities now make “finding a needle in a haystack not only possible, but practical.” This considerable power also comes with concomitant challenges related to accountability, privacy, rules for ownership of data, and data collection and analysis techniques.

The purpose of the upcoming conference is to have a dialogue on what Big Data means for businesses and non-profit organizations, the successes and challenges of collecting Big Data, how they are currently used or misused (or can be) by both for-profits and non-profits and identify promising areas for management research and education in Big Data. The conference will have two panels followed by a keynote speech.

The first panel, Power of Big Data for Social Good: Successes and Challenges, will focus on examples of how such processes can be used for social good (including various points of view about what is ‘social good’) as well as what are some of the challenges confronting the use of ‘big data’. The second panel, Making Use of Big Data: Techniques, Applications and Partnerships, will give participants the chance to hear from researchers and practitioners about the research methods and strategies they used to overcome the challenges of using big data for social good. It will be an interactive session, to allow participants to meet in small groups with the panelists and exchange ideas, explore partnerships, and develop some possible next steps to use data sustainably and responsibly. The keynote address Open Data for Social Good will provide several examples of successful applications followed by audience Q&A.

$20 (free for current Saint Mary's students, staff and faculty). RSVP is required.



Event Activity

12:30-1:15 p.m.    


1:15-1:30 p.m.

Welcome Address
Saroja Subrahmanyan

1:30-3:00 p.m.   

Panel: Power of Big Data for Social Good: Success and Challenges
Panelists: Hendrik Bartel, Glen Low, Stanislav SobolevskyLee Tien
Moderator: Jim Hawley

3:00-3:15 p.m.    

Refreshment Break

3:15-4:45 p.m.    

Interactive Panel: Making Use of Big Data: Techniques, Applications, and Partnerships
Panelists: Jenner Balagot, Martin Daniel, Dominik Kalisch, Stanislav Soblovesky,
Shankar Subramanian, Scott Tracy, Tina Zhang
Moderator: Natasha Munshi

4:45-5:00 p.m.    

Refreshment Break

5:00-6:00 p.m.    

Keynote: Open Data for Social Good
Speaker: Jeanne Holm

6:00-6:10 p.m.    

Conference wrap up

6:10-7:00 p.m.    

Networking Reception 
Appetizers and refreshments will be served


JeanneJeanne Holm is a leader in open data, education, community-building, and civic innovation, Jeanne Holm empowers people to discover new knowledge and collaborate to improve life on Earth and beyond. From astronauts in space to rural villagers in Uganda, billions of people use her systems to find the data, information, and knowledge they need to make better decisions every day.

Jeanne is the Deputy CIO, Assistant General Manager, and Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, bringing technical innovations to 4 million people. As the former Evangelist for Data.Gov (an open government flagship project for the White House), Jeanne led collaboration and built communities with the public, educators, developers, and governments in using open government data. She has been a senior consultant with the World Bank, where she empowers governments and civil society to use open data to increase prosperity and civic good.  She was the Chief Knowledge Architect at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, where she drove innovation through collaborative systems, knowledge sharing, and social platforms. She architected systems and managed teams from the award-winning NASA public portal to pioneering knowledge architectures within the U.S. Department of Defense.  She is a Distinguished Instructor at UCLA, teaching courses in knowledge management, big data, and civic innovation. She is the CIO and Director for Education for World Peace One, a charity that promotes peace and social justice through education and music. She is a Fellow of the United Nations International Academy of Astronautics, co-Chair of the Africa Open Data community, and has more than 130 publications on innovation, open data, information systems, and knowledge management.


JennerJenner Balagot is a Compliance Officer at Airbnb, where he has been since March 2014 based in San Francisco. At Airbnb, he maintains and obtains licenses to enable Airbnb to engage in monetary transactions. He co-produced Airbnb's first Data Transparency Report. Previously, Mr. Balagot spent 10 years in the banking industry where he had responsibilities in anti-money laundering operations. He holds an MBA from St. Mary's College focusing on Social Entrepreneurship specifically on microfinance. He completed his undergraduate B.S. degree at UC Santa Cruz in Information Management Systems.

HendrikHendrik Bartel, TruValue Labs co-founder and CEO, is a pioneer in the use of AI and cognitive computing to augment human decision-making with current and material ESG data. Bartel has presented keynotes on how corporations and investors use ESG data to improve performance, most recently at the 2016 DJSI International conference, as well as at the German Stock Exchange Sustainability Conference. With his entrepreneurial background and knack for turning complicated technologies into user-friendly products, Hendrik has a deep understanding of the importance ESG information has on all aspects of business. Hendrik has led product development at innovative companies such as Amazon, Autodesk, and Cisco and consulted with early and late-stage startups.

MartinMartin Daniel is a Data Scientist at Airbnb. Prior to Airbnb, Martin worked at Google and was a founding member and head of data science at fifty-five, a leading digital consulting firm in Europe. Martin is also the founder of Data For Good x Bayes Impact, a community that gathers 1,500+ data-driven minds to work on non-profit problems. He is also a contributor to Tmrw, a non-profit organization that uses technology to quantify the carbon impact of our daily choices.

DominikDominik Kalisch is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a focus on computational social sciences. He currently holds a visiting Assistant Professor position in the School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s College of California. During his time at the Shidler School of Business, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa he founded and led the Hawai'i Urban Innovation Lab, which identifies, develops, and implements pilot projects that support the long-term transition of cities toward sustainable growth. He received a Doctorate in Engineering (2014) from the Department of Informatics in Architecture at Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany, and holds a BA and MA respectively in Social Sciences and Social Education. His research focusses on how data and technology can be used to improve urban systems and which changes in processes, management, and physical infrastructures are necessary for this. His research interests focus on computational social sciences, big data analysis, and data visualization.

GlenGlen Low is co-Founder of The Earth Genome. He has 20 years of corporate consulting and management experience and guides the strategy and implementation of the Earth Genome. He is the former head of Blu Skye’s main consulting office in San Francisco. His clients have included sustainability leaders such as Nike, Walt Disney, and Microsoft.  Glen has deep expertise in applying measurement to improved corporate decision making, including helping launch the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Walmart’s Sustainability Index. Glen is also a former Principal at Bain & Company. He worked in four different offices and gained extensive international experience while working in 10+ countries. While at Bain, he was a member of the firm’s technology practice, where he focused on software companies, clean technology and city-based sustainability efforts. Glen has a BS in mechanical engineering from U.C. Berkeley where he was an Alumni Scholar.  He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He is currently part of the professional faculty at U.C. Berkeley, where he has taught corporate sustainability at the Executive Education, MBA, and undergraduate levels.

StanislavStanislav Sobolevsky is an Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Senseable City Lab. Holds PhD (1999) and Doctor of Science (2009; habilitation degree) in Mathematics. Dr. Sobolevsky teaches data science, machine learning and networks analysis and applies his fundamental quantitative background to studying human behavior in urban context through its digital traces: spatio-temporal big data created by various aspects of human activity. His research interests cover network science, big data analytics, modeling of complex systems and the theory of differential equations. Authored one monograph, two textbooks and close to 100 peer-reviewed papers in mathematics, network science and mathematical modeling. His former professional experience includes co-leading a team of researchers at MIT as well as research, teaching and administrative positions at Belarusian State University and Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

ShankarShankar Subramanian is a Principal at Cutter Associates, providing thought leadership, strategic and tactical advice to clients and vendors in investment management business operations and technology, with special emphasis on Data Management. He has over has over 25 years of industry experience in financial services and technology solutions Prior to joining Cutter Associates, Shankar held senior positions at IBM Global Services, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and led global delivery teams for clients in the financial services and retail industries. Shankar holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Management and an undergrad in engineering from Indian Institute of Technology. He is also an adjunct faculty at Saint Mary’s College, teaching Data Visualization.

LeeLee Tien is a Senior Staff Attorney and the Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, specializing in free speech law, including intersections with intellectual property law and privacy law. Before joining EFF, Lee was a sole practitioner specializing in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. Mr. Tien has published articles on children's sexuality and information technology, anonymity, surveillance, and the First Amendment status of publishing computer software. Lee received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford University, where he was very active in journalism at the Stanford Daily. After working as a news reporter at the Tacoma News Tribune for a year, Lee went to law school at Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley. Lee also did graduate work in the Program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at UC-Berkeley.

ScottScott Tracy is currently a Director in the Visa Analytics team, where he leverages Big Data and Machine Learning to help prevent fraud. Prior to joining Visa, Scott worked 7 years in Wells Fargo as Sr. Risk Consultant and Marketing Strategy Consultant. At Wells, Scott led a number of multi-million dollar initiatives, primarily in the area of Collection Strategies for unsecured credit products. Scott has also worked in an R&D capacity for ISO Innovative Analytics and Fair Isaac, Inc. where he helped develop a number of new analytic product lines. Scott holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Purdue University and Bachelor in Economics from College of William and Mary.

TinaDr. Tina Xiaotian Zhang is an Associate Professor of Finance and Chevron Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is the Director of the EMBA program in China and has been the Chair of Department of Finance at Saint Mary’s College. Dr. Zhang has published her studies in a number of academic journals, including International Finance Review, Managerial Finance, Small Business Economics, and Global Economic Review. She is a recipient of the Outstanding Research Award from the School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s College, and a selective recipient of the U.S. Center for International Business Education and Research Fellowship. Her current research investigates how corporate restructure decisions affect firm performance. She serves as an advisory director for two private firms in China.



JimDr. Jim Hawley is a Professor of Management and a Senior Research fellow at the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business at Saint Mary’s College of California.


NatashaDr. Natasha Munshi has a doctorate degree in Strategy, a Master’s degree in Biochemistry, and an MBA degree in International Business and Management. She has acquired over 15 years of consulting and board leadership expertise on strategy-related issues to non-profit organizations and museums. Dr. Munshi has taught for leading Executive MBA programs in Europe, China, U.K., and the U.S.A and her research focuses on strategic and social innovation. In 2016, her research on Big Data for Social Innovation won the ECRB research grant award. She is currently the MS in Management Program Director and an associate professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Saint Mary's College of California.


Saroja Dr. Saroja Subrahmanyan is a Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business at Saint Mary’s College of California.

PDF icon Elfenworks Conference Flyer 2017.pdf5.78 MB

Questions? Contact Dr. Saroja Subrahmanyan, Director of the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business.