Farewell to Our Founder, Shawn Smith

A Note from RADIUS

RADIUS (RADical Ideas, Useful to Society) was founded in 2013 as a social innovation lab and venture incubator.

Its purpose was to encourage the emergence of a healthy, sustainable economy; it did so through education of emerging changemakers, the dream of a Lab to develop, test, and launch new interventions, and identifying and amplifying Ventures working on meaningful solutions.

Today, RADIUS brings together social innovators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders to collectively work towards a transformed economy that is dynamic, just, sustainable and resilient. We collaboratively build the shared capacity, networks, and solutions needed through cohort-based programs and experiential labs. We do this while engaging in internal reflection on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) and assisting in hosting community-led processes for addressing tough challenges. 

What a difference 10+ years can make.

This month, our co-founder Shawn Smith is stepping away from RADIUS—and we would like to take a moment to thank him.

Shawn’s vision led to the creation of RADIUS: his drive found supporters, partners, and alliances; his passion found collaborators and like-minded disrupters, and his dedication as an educator inspired hundreds of students and entrepreneurs. RADIUS’ journey has not been easy, or perfect, or clear. It has been (as most social innovation projects born in design-thinking have been) challenging and messy, inspiring, and hard, visionary and harmful, inspiring and sobering; it’s a journey we’re grateful to be on

Thank you, Shawn—not only for creating RADIUS all those years ago but for trusting this team to carry it on without you.

With gratitude,


A Note from Shawn

After over a decade helping build and lead RADIUS and social innovation activities more broadly at SFU, I am leaving my day-to-day role in the organization today.

It has at times felt unimaginable that I would be foolish enough to ever leave such a brilliant and loving team, particularly as our economic transformation mission feels more relevant and critical every day. And yet, everything has its time, and a mix of family care responsibilities and an itch to use what I’ve learned in new ways have slowly made it clear that that time is about right.

Years ago, I would worry about when and how to ever figure out the right moment to leave an organization as a founder, but in reality, RADIUS has developed a strong co-leadership model that has allowed us to make this transition quite gradually. The core ideas that drive RADIUS have long come from many places. There is no moment. The organization continues tomorrow as today, with an embarrassment of leadership riches, a compelling vision, rock-solid underlying principles, and a team I would back any day to take this work forward.

I have grown and been changed immensely here and owe a deep debt of gratitude to the many colleagues, friends and friendly critics who have helped me along on that journey. To all of those collaborators, partners and co-conspirators over 10+ years – and there are really so many of you – we did some amazing work, and I’m so glad to have had the chance to do it with you. To the current team (seriously, check out that team!), I am so inspired by each of you and by the collective you, and I’ll always feel lucky to have been a part of it all.

I won’t be far away. Playing with my kids a bit more, finding new ways to help build a better economy, and cheering you all on harder than anyone. Don’t be strangers.

With love and appreciation,

Shawn Smith