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I know this probably sounds like the start of a bad joke but what do a systems designer in New York, an early-stage investor in Beijing and a health nonprofit leader in Kigutu have in common?

They are all part of the first mind-blowing cohort of UNICEF Innovation’s 9 to Watch” series. Each is pushing boundaries in his or her own way. And they are all veritable forces for change. Not surprisingly, we are inspired by them and are fairly certain that the ideas they are passionate about, the products they are building and the risks they are taking will inspire you as well.

Starting today, and for the next eight weeks, we will be featuring one of the “9 to Watch” here on the blog. You will meet someone who kayaked 500 km across Lake Victoria, another who is teaching Python to students in Sudan, and many more. Together, we’ll explore new technologies (drones, anyone?), what they all love about UNICEF and, of course, what they have on the horizon.

We know we can count on them all to be honest about outcomes, so you should be equally excited to check back in at the end of the year to learn more about what they achieved or if they changed course, and why. Will they make the change they imagine in the world? What will most surprise them? We may also have the opportunity to pick their brains once or twice before then and if that happens, we’ll be sure to let you know.

The team here at UNICEF Innovation keeps up with some truly amazing people and we can barely contain our excitement to share their ideas, grand plans and infectious enthusiasm. On a personal note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share how inspired I was following each and every interview. It was like having nine amazing mentors to remind me that big impact is often the result of a small action. Or that innovation is now and from within. And, perhaps most importantly, that collaboration is at the heart of all successful endeavors, and we’re all aspiring to do it better.

Nicole Mauriello
Manager, Data and Learning
US Fund for UNICEF

ps. If you don’t want to wait until next Monday, you can check the full 9 to Watch series here.

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