President & CEO, The Boston Foundation & Former President, Emerson College
Lee Pelton is the CEO & President of The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations with $1.8 billion in assets. He joined the Foundation in June 2021, after serving as President of Emerson College (2011-2021) and Willamette University (1998-2011). Read More >
In this speech, Lee Pelton focuses on the idea that we can’t run away from the future but rather, run towards it. He emphasizes the fact that nowadays, “words matter less and the medium matters more.” The more advanced technology has become, the quicker mediums are established, leaving behind older traditional services. Pelton shares with audiences examples of how digital and media channels are overtaking our everyday lives. From Netflix and Hulu to Facebook and Snapchat, he stresses that we must adapt to this new, visual world.
Pelton details the importance of this generation placing more emphasis on the “social good” than any other before. The Boston Strong campaign was started by two young students from Emerson College after the Boston Bombing. A simple idea of selling several T-shirts with the words “Boston Strong” written across transformed into an entire campaign, resulting in a nationwide movement which generated over $1 million, later donated to the Boston One Fund. Pelton showcases how these two students wielded enormous power to make positive change by utilizing the right tools, through effective communication and empowering a community to unite during a time of grief and solace.
Social media has become a “shiny new toy” that has the “capacity to grow like a virus.” Pelton reveals that because users are the ones who decide HOW to use it, this instrument of change can only break boundaries in a positive way if it is managed responsibly. He shares how these platforms do everything from promoting social good like the Boston Strong campaign to revealing misinformation and half-truths, teaching all audiences what they can do to make a positive impact via digital media.
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