Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Director of Institutional Relations


I love connecting passionate philanthropists with passionate change makers. Coming from a hybrid nonprofit/for-profit background, with experience in both project management and business development, helps me give both form and substance to the powerful vision of the brilliant researchers and program staff I have had the honor to work with over the years.

In the late 1990’s, I was part of a startup that was developing a web-based student information system. Some of our leadership was aware of Clay’s still fairly recent book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, and we often talked about IBM’s near death before they caught up on PCs. But I didn’t read the book until I was researching the Institute before interviewing for the institutional relations role I’m in now. Had we applied the lens of Disruptive Innovation to our startup, we would have vastly improved our chances of being a successful and sustainable enterprise. The book truly transformed the way I think about how organizations succeed or fail, ranking among Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions or Abrams’ Historical Sociology in not just imparting knowledge, but forever changing the way I think about the world.

Still, my favorite text among all the Christensen canon remains How Will You Measure Your Life, which distills deeply nuanced business theory into practical lessons for life.

Much of the fundraising work I’ve done over the years is fundamentally about ameliorating downstream problems rather than exploring upstream solutions. With the Christensen Institute team and even the whole Christensen community, I feel we are working for a purpose rather than a cause. This isn’t to say that we have all the answers, but that we can apply lenses that help uncover solutions often so far upstream that no one is even looking at them.

That future view also creates a delicate tension when it comes to fundraising—funders often know that they are providing band-aid solutions. Still, it takes highly-sophisticated donors to invest in the type of landscape analysis and field-building that can help their philanthropic investments yield more impact over time than pure charity. That keeps this work forever interesting and challenging, along with trying to help more traditional research funders break out of the randomized controlled trial mode.

My dream for the Institute is to grow the base of both institutional and individual investors to allow for more multi-year research into multiple sectors, create an endowment to help seed research into emergent opportunities, and optimally expand access to the world of Christensen-related theory to more and more people worldwide. Research will always be critical, but if we can simultaneously succeed in helping people with how they think, and how they measure their lives, that also has the potential to transform lives for the better, at scale.


  • Director of Institutional Relations, the Christensen Institute
  • Entrepreneurial Fundraiser
  • Adjunct English Faculty, UMass Dartmouth
  • Washington University in St. Louis, BA in Anthropology and History
  • UMass Dartmouth, MA in Professional Writing and Communications
  • Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Project Management Professional (PMP), Completed the Network for Academic Corporate Relations Officers Executive Education Program