Brian Hanson '85 will be a featured speaker in the Leading Innovation and Entrepreneurship speaker series on Friday, November 10. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 2 p.m. in Harris Cinema. The Donald and Winifred Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership is sponsoring the speaker series and associated course.

Brian is vice president of research at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which ranked the #1 Think Tank to Watch Worldwide. He is responsible for building the Chicago Council into a leading premier global think tank. He overseas research teams on a broad range of global issues, with the goal of producing innovative approaches to addressing crucial global challenges.

His career has unfolded serendipitously and is marked by transformational innovation within large institutions, of ineffective organizations, and by launching small-scale startups aimed at producing social change.

At Grinnell (in the midst of the Cold War), he majored in political science, studied Russian language, history, politics, etc. After Grinnell, Brian headed to D.C., where he got his first job from a Grinnell alum. Soon afterward, he became the foreign affairs advisor for a US Senator. He then became a lobbyist for John Deere for two years.

In the early 90s, Brian left DC to pursue a PhD in Political Science at MIT. With the end of the Cold War, he retooled to focus on the politics of the global economy in the global North and South. For 15 years he taught Political Science at Northwestern University and built what became the Buffett Institute for Global Studies (Warren’s sister). Also at Northwestern he developed a set of innovative and award winning curricular and co-curricular experiential learning programs in the developing world to prepare students for lifelong leadership for social change.

Additionally, Brian is active on boards of non-profit organizations, including the Stanley Foundation, GlobeMed, the Foundation for Sustainable Development, the Holthues Trust, and the Chicago Global Donors Network. He tends to join boards of organizations that are at moments of critical strategic choices and high growth potential – where he can make a difference.


Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

This venue is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program.

The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases, the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of College personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

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