Bob McKinnon

Speech Topics

Why don’t we act more often to help others? Is it that we don’t care or we’re just not caring in the right way? For example, when we sympathize with someone we feel and then move on. When we empathize we feel and then move in. In this talk, Bob will discuss the power of empathy as a critical lever to creating change. We’ll cover the history of empathy, how the lack of it is impacting our world today and, most importantly, how we can design new ways to “help people walk in someone else’s shoes.” The result? Seeing the world differently and more people acting for the greater good.

The American Dream is a vital part of our American story. It is a powerful beacon of hope for all who are born on our soil or come to our shores and has become the embodiment of a better, more successful life. Yet ironically, the way we have come to talk about the American Dream may be limiting the ability for people to achieve it.

When we oversimplify our story to say, “America is a place where if you come here and work hard enough anyone can achieve fortune and fame,” we make it difficult to think clearly and carefully about what else is needed. By focusing so exclusively on individual drive and effort, we overlook and perhaps undervalue the underpinnings in our communities, families, and the larger society, that make achieving the dream more likely. In this talk, Bob will share what research and experience show are critical for achieving success and happiness in our lives.



Every generation makes a commitment to see its children lead better lives than they have and to leave the world a better place than they had inherited. Yet today’s issues are combining to create the first generation of children expected to lead shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives than their parents. So how do we get people to engage in creating a better world? In this talk, Bob will share inspiring stories and lessons learned from his experience collaborating with well known change makers like Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter as well as everyday heroes who “put their hands in the muck and mire to create something beautiful – a better outcome.”


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Bob McKinnon is one of the country’s leading experts on creating social change. He is founder and President of GALEWiLL Design (, a company that designs social change through programming, communications, advocacy, and action. Bob has led teams that have redesigned the food stamp program for the state of California, transformed the way we talk about social factors and health for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and created new ways for youth to stay above the influence for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

GALEWilLL has created public engagement campaigns on issues ranging from childhood obesity to climate change, and has partnered with leading social change organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Children’s Health Fund, KIPP, and The William J.  Clinton Foundation among many others to help millions overcome obstacles on their way to a healthier and happier life.

Bob is also the creator of Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for A Better World, a book designed to help us leave our children a better world than we inherited. He has produced two documentary films, is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and is an instructor for the School of Visual Art’s Impact!: Design for Social Change program. Most recently, Bob founded the GALEWiLL Center for Opportunity & Progress (, which also last year launched a major initiative to create a more realistic conversation about the American Dream and what it takes to achieve it (

Among others, Bob has been asked to address audiences on campus (Yale, Harvard, Penn State), at national conferences (National Governor’s Association, Global Health and Innovation Conference, The Feast) and within national halls of influence (U.S. Congress, National Institutes of Health, Federal Trade Commission).  He has also served as an engaging moderator at several conferences as well as for organizations including Sesame Workshop and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

He has been fortunate to share the stories and advance the causes of everyday citizens and well known heroes who inspire us to make the world a better place.  His talks have spanned topics from Creating Empathy to Rebuilding the American Dream, sharing powerful lessons from the fields of design, branding and innovation, and inspiring audiences ranging from a few hundred to several thousand.

Previously, Bob was an Executive Vice President at Saatchi & Saatchi, where he worked with iconic companies such as Procter and Gamble and Toyota and directed the agency’s pro social efforts for the International Olympic Committee’s Celebrate Humanity Campaign and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s VERB Campaign.

Bob earned a B.A. at Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in Media Studies at the New School University in New York. He resides in New York with his wife and three daughters.

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