Linkedin Top Voices in Social Impact: The 20 creators to follow in the U.S. and Canada
Senior editor at large, LinkedIn
The 2022 LinkedIn Top Voices in Social Impact highlights 20 thought leaders speaking out on the biggest issues of our times and sharing what it means to be a mission-driven professional.
Fixing the skills gap. Protecting the rights of the elderly, the disabled, the LGBTQIA+ community and more. Pursuing environmental justice. No matter how stormy each week’s headlines may be, a bold new cohort is stepping forward with ideas – and inspiration – for all of us.
What unites this group of thinkers and doers is a belief that we can build a better society – and that there’s no better time to start the conversation than right now. Today, LinkedIn News is debuting our list of Top Voices in Social Impact: 20 thought leaders from all walks of life. Some run big foundations; others lead small nonprofits or have dedicated their career to powerful causes. They offer hope on everything from closing the professional skills gap to rescuing pets in disaster zones. Check out and follow the creators that speak to your interests and stay updated on their latest insights in your LinkedIn feed.
This latest edition of our Top Voices list joins a family of features highlighting creators in areas ranging from gender equity to technology and innovation. All Top Voices lists are editorially curated by the LinkedIn News team; they highlight the creators to follow who are writing and sharing about today’s important workplace, career and industry topics. You can find more about how we compiled the list and who is eligible to be a Top Voice at the bottom of this article.
Meet this year’s #LinkedInTopVoices in Social Impact — and follow them to stay plugged into the conversation.
What she talks about: Barrett is focused on closing the gender gap in tech for some of the most marginalized groups in the industry. As the head of an organization focused on providing young women and nonbinary people access to STEM education, she lifts up women of color across the field and highlights the difference representation can make — opening students’ eyes to what’s possible for their careers. Barrett shares how mentorship and social capital are vital to democratize access to education and why she’s “hopeful” about a more equitable future.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Strive to be present and enjoy yourself and others in every professional moment. Approaching your work with joy has countless benefits, including building a supportive and affirming professional network.”
What he talks about: Bershadker, who heads an animal welfare organization, shares how resilient animals are finding brighter futures while also raising awareness about animal cruelty and inhumane practices. He celebrates second chances for animals in need and highlights how critical partnerships can benefit pets trapped in disaster zones. He makes a case for prioritizing the safety of animals, because “when you help an animal in need,” Bershadker says, “that animal often ends up helping others.”
His advice for making an impact with your career: “At work, identify your weaknesses or gaps in understanding and seek out colleagues and opportunities that can help you fill those gaps and even challenge you further. Also, try to connect with issues and experiences about which you feel personally connected or passionate. At the ASPCA, there’s no greater motivator than our shared passion to help animals in need. That drive — felt across the organization — fuels our collaboration and impact.”
What he talks about: “The need for tech in humanitarian emergencies is increasing and those needs are diversifying,” says Bharania, who focuses on how to deploy secure connectivity to humanitarian crises. Not only has he written a guide on how to develop a technological response to urgent disasters, he also shared his learnings while on the ground in eastern Europe to emphasize why technology is essential for Ukrainian refugees and the effort to support them. Bharania highlights how the war in Ukraine has transformed social impact and the responsibility of corporate leaders to address global crises.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Center on impact and think holistically; appreciate the human context of what technology does and can do.”
What she talks about: Byrne-Haber, an architect focused on accessibility, talks about how to create more inclusive environments for people with disabilities. She outlines the discrimination she and other disabled people have faced to advocate for more accessibility at events and for meaningful allyship. Byrne-Haber explains why certain return-to-work trends may be discriminatory toward employees with disabilities, and she shares ways to make everything from seating arrangements to meetings more inclusive.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Always ask yourself if marginalized groups have equal access to the policies, procedures, events, or products that you are working on. Innovation starts at home. Innovating on something already in use to become more inclusive is much more impactful than creating something shiny and net-new.”
What he talks about: As the founder of a workforce development organization, Chertavian explains why equitable access to economic opportunity is crucial for closing skills gaps. To reshape what it means to be a qualified applicant, he says, a college degree should not be used to eliminate people while skills and lived experience should be prioritized. From the effects of remote work on young professionals to the promise of upskilling, Chertavian digs into everything that impacts the road to more meaningful employment and systemic change in education.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Integrity and persistence are two of the most important ingredients to make an impact with your career. It takes hard work over a long period of time and people need to trust you along the entire journey.”
What she talks about: Dunbar has been fighting for environmental justice since she was 15, and now her passion for building a more sustainable future includes advocating for home heating to be powered by electricity instead of gas. Working for an environmental advocacy organization, she supports programs that could scale the adoption of electric power — which is “essential to provide healthier spaces for the next generation,” she says. Dunbar not only examines the impact of environmental injustices, but advocates for energy regulators “to integrate climate justice tenets in their decision making process, because…it is cheaper to protect our environment than to destroy it.”
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “In order to navigate the complex world we live in, I find self advocacy and authenticity to be one of the greatest measures of impact. Whether your ventures take place in a personal, professional, or academic setting, it is fundamental to align your passions with purpose and to actively and equitably connect with others to further that goal.”
What he talks about: Elias, who has dedicated his career to advancing science that can save lives, is already focused on how to prepare for the next pandemic. As the lead for global development initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he shows how collaboration is vital to develop strong health systems that curb the spread of diseases such as polio and coronavirus. Elias emphasizes the need for more equitable access to critical vaccines and how that can create healthier futures for children around the world.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Invest in beginnings. Take the time right at the start of any new endeavor to get to know your colleagues, partners, stakeholders. Ask questions about the complexities, opportunities, and challenges of their work, and listen and reflect on their answers. This is time well spent that will enable you to not only learn more about where your strengths could help to lead to greater impact, but also create meaningful and productive relationships over the long-term.”
What she talks about: Mentors play an influential role in closing network gaps for young professionals, and Eubanks Davis is making sure college students can connect to opportunities that will help them land strong first jobs. As the leader of an organization focused on ensuring that underrepresented students are able to find fulfilling roles, she shares resources ranging from networking strategies for first-generation students to opportunities for Black Americans in tech. Eubanks Davis also celebrates the impact of Black educators on students through her “After 1954” podcast, where she highlights the importance of representation in classrooms and ways to invest in education.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Find the intersection between your skills and your heart — your hustle. And once you find that, stay in that space for a long time so you can get truly excellent at the work.”
What she talks about: Fernandez has grown the Sustainable Ocean Alliance from an idea in her college dorm room to an organization that empowers youth around the world to preserve our oceans. She opens up about the inherent responsibility of pursuing a career focused on social action, the pressure of leading an organization as a young woman of color and the lessons she’s learned from mentors about building an organization with broad impact. Fernandez connects professionals with emerging opportunities in the green economy and highlights the latest innovations that could help support a more sustainable future for oceans.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Lead with your ‘why’ — have a sense of purpose behind your career. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, focus your efforts on reasonable and attainable solutions that will make a tangible impact.”
What she talks about: Harris recognizes that local leadership is vital to build productive partnerships and tackle the greatest challenges that communities face. Leading Bloomberg Philanthropies, she helps cities accelerate their transition to clean energy, invest in infrastructure and better address persistent public health crises. Harris shows why global connection and support for the next generation of leaders is crucial to build a safer, stronger and healthier future.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “You’ll succeed if you love what you do. You have to find a place where you believe in the people that you work with and that they believe in you.”
What he talks about: Hernandez steps back from the latest headlines to spark conversations around sustainability. He opens up about the challenges he’s faced in moving people to action through climate education as he advocates for more resources for young BIPOC environmental leaders. Hernandez builds partnerships that not only help communicate how climate change impacts our daily lives but how it affects the most marginalized communities.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Get creative with your work on social media by showcasing your personality. More than ever, people are wanting to humanize themselves through other individuals by forming relationships with other human beings and showcasing that on social media doesn’t have to always look aesthetically pleasing, it can look any way you want to that looks realistic for yourself!”
What he talks about: Johns shows people how to “own their power” in standing up to the discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people face. As the executive director of a civil rights organization, he works to disrupt bias and highlights why words matter, all while honoring Black queer trailblazers who have led movements and shifted culture. Johns highlights what it means to invite people into your identity and how to be an effective ally so that people of all orientations feel seen, valued and loved.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Pursue passion as if it is the only thing you’re obligated to do. It is. Also, take calculated risks.”
What she talks about: Joudi helps older adults feel enabled to reach their full potential as she dispels stereotypes of aging and raises awareness about elder abuse. As an aging and ethnic diversity educator, she outlines ways to support older adults who want to continue to work or live in their home and shows why addressing ageism is a vital component of diversity, equity and inclusion work. Joudi sparks conversations about ways to eliminate the fears of getting older and how becoming a volunteer helped her find purpose.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “I believe we need to do better to make our world a better place for older people to thrive and support them in achieving lifelong goals. All people deserve to live their best life regardless of their age.”
What she talks about: By the end of 2022, one of the world’s streaming behemoths says it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and Kelly is leading that effort. She highlights the importance of carbon markets in reaching those goals and maps out the role that carbon credits will play in the transition to net zero. Kelly details how films have the ability to move people to action and how Netflix is decarbonizing how movies and TV are made as she advocates for the protection and restoration of fragile environments.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Dream big. Ask why. Work hard. Collaborate. Persist.”
What he talks about: Lewis outlines how fundraising varies between organizations, showing why reframing the nature of transactions can build better long-term relationships with donors. As the founder of a consulting firm that advises nonprofits on their fundraising approach, Lewis focuses on how the interdependency of organizations and their donors can be transformed to “nurture generosity, connectivity and meaning.” He explains how the pandemic has changed donor behaviors and shares actionable advice on how to develop a more genuine and impactful approach to fundraising.
His advice for making an impact with your career: “In today’s environment, we have to think carefully and critically about the work we’re signing on for. We need to ask ourselves whether our work translates into the outcomes we desire for ourselves and our employers and whether it is making the impact in the world that we’re committed to making.”
What she talks about: Morris centers equity at the core of global conservation efforts as she works to turn climate ambitions into action. As the leader of a land and water conservation organization, she talks about why we must understand intersectionality to better address the planet’s biggest problems and how to support diverse sustainability efforts that build a more representative workforce. Morris digs into the critical steps and policy approaches needed to strengthen climate action and shares why she remains hopeful about the future.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Making an impact through your career is not about the outward symbols of that achievement. Making a difference comes from using that mantle to humbly and honestly show up for others, never being afraid to question what others tell you and leveraging your voice to call for lasting results while encouraging others to do the same.”
What she talks about: COVID, climate change and conflict have led to unprecedented challenges for the response to global crises, Nunn says, and humanitarian action must adapt. “Aid alone cannot end global poverty,” Nunn notes, which is why she says it’s “imperative” to support market-based innovations that can change lives. At the helm of a global humanitarian organization, Nunn employs public-private
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “To paraphrase Fredrick Buechner, find the connection between your great passions and the world’s unique needs and dig in.”
What he talks about: As the leader of the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGTBQIA+ young people, Paley advocates for the protection of youth at the local and federal levels. In addition to sharing comprehensive data to inform more representative policies, he outlines specific actions that parents and caregivers can take to support LGBTQIA+ youth and reduce suicide risks. Paley is on a mission to provide more mental health resources for those who may be struggling. He aims to “create a world where every LGBTQIA+ young person…knows that they are deserving of love and respect, they are beautiful as they are, and that they are not alone.”
His advice for making an impact with your career: “Bring your full self to work, model possibility for those around you, and don’t limit your thinking to the status quo. Complex problems demand creative solutions, and innovation only happens in a climate of trust and collaboration.”
What she talks about: Romo Edelman, who founded a nonprofit that works to advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, is a fierce advocate for the hispanic agenda on the world stage. She highlights the community’s untapped potential and calls attention to the discrimination Latinos face, inspiring others to fight for more representation across the workforce. Romo Edelman shows how to better support female workers and bridge the digital divide through advocacy that elevates the narrative of Latino professionals.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Social impact comes from a realistic assessment of not only what needs to change, but who can join you on your mission. We are always stronger together, so work closely with others on a unified agenda.”
What she talks about: Before leading thousands of educators at the helm of Teach for America, Villanueva Beard took a leading role supporting students in McAllen, Texas, her home town in the Rio Grande Valley. She celebrates teachers who inspired her, as she advocates for more inclusive and equitable opportunities in classrooms nationwide. Villanueva Beard highlights the urgent need to put students on track for long-term success and why it’s vital to support teachers who help young people thrive.
Her advice for making an impact with your career: “Proximity is everything, because the strongest solutions to any issue exist within the communities most impacted by that issue. When you are close to the work and hold deep and enduring relationships within the community, you experience the power of our humanity, and that drives action and change.”
How we compile the list
Top Voices is a series of lists that have been editorially curated by the LinkedIn News team, with the goal of highlighting creators to follow who are covering the chosen segments and/or topics. To compile each list, editors consider each individual’s content on LinkedIn. Specifically: Are they covering the topic at hand on a regular basis? Are their contributions insightful, conversational and timely? Have they built up and engaged with their communities? Do they seek to give and get help vs. being self-promotional? We aim to highlight a diverse set of voices, so that the list reflects the world we live and work in today.
Who is eligible
Any LinkedIn member who shares content and drives professional conversations on the platform is eligible to be a Top Voice, with the exception of LinkedIn and Microsoft employees, members who have violated LinkedIn’s User Agreement, including our Professional Community Policies, or individuals currently running in an election for an executive, legislative or judicial position.
Top Voices may include individuals who are a part of the LinkedIn Influencer (invite-only) or the Creator Accelerator (application-
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New voices emerge every year — and there’s nothing stopping you from turning your own ideas into powerful conversations. Try creating a post to share your expertise or thoughts on the latest trending news, and you may be surprised at the community you find. If you’re struggling with where to start, follow our LinkedIn for Creators page for content inspiration, tips, news, education and more. And if you’d like to recommend someone for a future Top Voices list, let us know in the comments (just be sure to tag them and let us know why you love following them). We’re always looking for new individuals to highlight.
Who would you recommend for a future LinkedIn Top Voices list? Let us know in the comments section below by tagging them and sharing why you enjoy following them.