Theme 4_1_

Systems Expert
Freya Bradford, Director of Systems Change and Learning, Rotary Charities

Jessica Conrad, Conrad Consulting

ECD Expert
Mark Tomlinson, Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research, Stellenbosch University

Shekufeh Zonji, Global Technical Lead, ECDAN

Session Description

While systems change intentions and approaches are on the rise, much mystique still surrounds the actual practices that drive durable shifts in systemic patterns, structures, and mindsets. This session will introduce a framework that is being used across a region of northwest lower Michigan (US) that breaks down systems change into four core strategies and corresponding indicators of change. It will offer micro and macro examples of how storytelling has been a critical tool to clarify and chronicle systems change in action, create a common language, and inspire deeper learning and action. Opportunities and tools to practice applying frameworks and storytelling will be shared.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will develop a better understanding of the following:

  • Four core strategies common to systems change work.
  • Nested levels of systems inquiry and common signs of change to look for at each level.
  • Two replicable practices that use storytelling as a method to uncover and share signs of systems change

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Speaker Bios

Freya Bradford, Director of Systems Change and Learning, Rotary Charities

Freya Bradford is the Director of Systems Change and Learning at Rotary Charities of Traverse City, a place-based foundation in northwest Michigan. In this role, she partners with a diverse cohort of regional initiatives aimed at tackling the roots of complex problems by facilitating a systems change grant category, community of practice, and systems change coaching pool. Her career has focused on social change and learning across philanthropy, Native American tribal governments and justice systems, and public health. Her approach is rooted in a systems view that centers relationships and interdependence, curiosity, and a shared responsibility for the whole.

Formally, she holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Michigan State University where she concentrated in Public Administration, Policy, and Evaluation. Additionally, her education has been influenced by a long list of actors including the forests, dunes, and lakeshores of her hometown; her two children; The School of Systems Change; and the incredible systems changemakers in northern Michigan she feels so privileged to learn alongside and support.

Jessica Conrad, Conrad Consulting

Jessica Conrad brings over a decade of experience working at the frontiers of positive change for organizations like the Garfield Foundation, the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Forum for the Future’s School of Systems Change, and the RE-AMP Network. She currently supports purpose-driven people and organizations in a consulting capacity with coaching, facilitation, and custom offerings in the realms of leadership, research and storytelling, organizational learning and development, and program design. Strengths include relationship building, chaos wrangling, data-driven iteration, execution under pressure, and forward-thinking spirit. She holds a MSc in Strategic Leadership for Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology and a BA in Environmental Humanities from Whitman College.

Mark Tomlinson, Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research, Stellenbosch University

Professor Mark Tomlinson is the Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research Stellenbosch University. He is also Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens University, Belfast, UK. His scholarly work is primarily interested in how to improve early childhood development, child and adolescent mental health, maternal mental health, and developing life course approaches to improving health. He was elected as a member of the Academy of Science in South Africa in 2017. He has published over 372 papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited four books and published numerous chapters.

Explore Other Sessions

Have any questions or ideas for the series, contact [email protected].

For more resources on systems thinking, please visit the Systems Thinking for ECD webpage.