About Us

Stanford PACS is a research center for students, scholars and practitioners to explore and share ideas that create social change. Its primary participants are Stanford faculty, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, philanthropists and nonprofit and foundation practitioners. As publisher of Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stanford PACS informs policy and social innovation, philanthropic investment and nonprofit practice. SSIR is a shared intellectual space where scholars and practitioners publish inter-disciplinary and cross sector research and ideas to advance social change. The journal is complemented by a website, blog, conferences, webinars and podcasts.

Stanford PACS is a part of Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences and falls under the aegis of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, but our ambition is to serve as a university-wide center with interdisciplinary networks and collaborations. Our faculty co-directors have appointments at the School of Education, the Business School, the Law School, and the School of Engineering. Over the years we have attracted post-doctoral and PhD Fellows from a multitude of disciplines, including Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Engineering, to name few. In addition, PACS has strong connections with Silicon Valley’s institutional funders, philanthropists and nonprofit organizations, its business and investor communities, and government.


Stanford PACS’ goal is to:

  1. Expand the body and reach of quality research on philanthropy, civil society, and social innovation.
  2.  Increase the pipeline of scholars, practitioners, and leaders in philanthropy and civil society.
  3. Improve the practice and effectiveness of philanthropy and social innovation.


Our Core Values:

    1. We strive for excellence and rigor in our approach to work and in our pursuit of knowledge.
    2. We aim to be a premier source for research, insights, ideas, and action for the social sector.
    3. We pledge to work collaboratively in an open-minded, intentional, and collegial way.
    4. We commit to a supportive environment where colleagues are appreciated, recognized, and treated  with respect.
    5. We embrace a fearless approach to challenging ideas and practices, and are unafraid to experiment, take risks, and learn.

We envision a strong civil society and philanthropic sector that harnesses the ethical and effective use of technology and social innovation.

New models of philanthropy and new practices of civil society organizations are emerging in the 21st century. We see increased blurring of the boundaries between private, government, and nonprofit sectors, and the rapid advance of digital technologies that have transformed civil society and social innovation. These changes call for the development and dissemination of new knowledge, updating the training of a new generation of leaders, and new approaches to social problem solving.

History & Leadership

Stanford PACS was founded in 2006 by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and faculty co-directors Woody Powell & Debra Meyerson. The Center welcomed our first cohort of four PhD Fellows the same year. In 2009 Kim Meredith joined the Center as its inaugural Executive Director and in 2012, Paul Brest joined Woody Powell and Rob Reich as Faculty Co-Director. Robb Willer joined Stanford PACS as faculty co-director in 2019, and Patricia (Tricia) Bromley joined as faculty co-director in 2021.