Around the Institute

Nominations for First Movers Fellowship

February 6, 2013  • First Movers Fellowship Program & Garrett Barr


February 15 was the deadline for nominations for our next class of Fellows.

The First Movers Fellowship is an innovation lab housed within the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program. The program is designed for exceptional innovators, often working in large and complex multinational corporations, who are creating new products, services, and management practices that achieve both business growth and social and environmental value. We call these accomplished innovators social intrapreneurs. 

These men and women come from a variety of industries and bring with them a diversity of responsibilities, skills, and experiences. Most work in core business functions within their companies: finance, marketing, design, leadership development or governance. But they all share the vision, tenacity, and courage to pursue profitable opportunities within their own companies that serve the interests of society and the environment at large.

“The First Movers Fellowship has been an extraordinary experience in so many ways. At the heart of it all, I think it has reaffirmed for me the power of collaboration and the sense of community, and in this case, it’s a community whose members believe in the potential for companies to create social value as well as economic value. [As a result], an organization’s role in making a positive impact on society and the planet is not a byproduct of profitability, it’s part of the equation. There is an African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ The First Movers Fellowship has totally reinforced my belief in that principle.” – Paul Ellingstad, Partnership and Program Development Director, HP

2012 First Mover Fellow Paul Ellingstad leads the ideation and start-up of strategic partnerships and programs within HP’s Sustainability & Social Innovation team. Paul played an integral role in the company’s embrace of the “Creating Shared Value” (CSV) model in 2009 and the implementation of the company’s social innovation strategy. He’s worked in the technology sector for more than 20 years, having been exposed to the field from an early age—his father was in human factors psychology, which allowed him unfettered access to computer labs at a young age. Paul’s career started in the early ’90s at Gateway, the fastest growing company in the US at the time.


He was well aware of the Aspen Institute by reputation and learned about the First Movers Fellowship when participating in a panel at the Emerge Conference at Oxford University where he met Antoni Ballabriga, a 2010 Fellow and Head of Corporate Responsibility for BBVA. Paul was fascinated to learn Antoni was dealing with many of the same challenges and opportunities as HP around the Creating Shared Value model.

“It was so useful to exchange insights and experiences with someone ‘in the same boat’ at another company.” Upon learning more about the First Movers Fellowship, Paul thought, “Wow! We’re not alone on this journey!”

Indeed, the goals of the program are to strengthen the capacity of social intrapreneurs to innovate and lead change in their own companies and to build a cohort of leaders, who will, over time, collectively change how business is done and how business success is measured. We believe we’re off to a promising start and so too does Paul Ellingstad.

“The insights and ‘ah ha’ moments, the dialogue and reflection, the camaraderie, and the espirit de corps has made the fellowship truly remarkable,” says Paul. “In many ways, I feel the Aspen Institute has kindled a movement through the First Movers Program.”

Here, here, Paul.

First Mover Fellows at the inaugural First Movers Summit give advice to aspiring social intrapreneurs.