Chris Sigaloff is the director of Kennisland. She and Paul Keller form its board of directors and lead the organisation on a daily basis. Besides exploring new themes and developing new methods and interventions, she advises governments and organisations on matters dealing with innovation strategies, social innovation and policymaking and gives presentations on these subjects in the Netherlands and abroad. Aside from her activities at Kennisland, she is a board member of the Kafka Brigade, university of applied sciences Inholland and the Kriterion Foundation and a member of the international network SIX (Social Innovation Exchange).
Chris’s expertise lies in the area of societal renewal and innovation and in particular how it can contribute to dealing with social problems. Not by developing ideas behind her desk, but by putting ideas into practice through supporting innovators in the field. She designs learning environments in which participants themselves are encouraged to innovate, with the aim of creating new ways to tackle the given problems. For this reason she set up Smarter Network, a programme for professionals within the public sector; Education Pioneers, a programme for teachers who are eager to improve their schools; Innovation Impulse in Education, in which schools initiate innovative experiments; and the Social Innovation Safari, an intense programme for international changemakers working on tough societal problems in a very short time. The common element to all these initiatives is the idea that innovation and learning go hand in hand, that theory must support practice, rather than the other way around, and that asking questions can be more powerful than knowing the answers++Know for uncentainAs Dutch writer Jan Terlouw put it beautifully: “Knowing for certain is very dangerous and will stop progression”..
Chris’s career began in Geneva at an international organisation on migration and asylum policies. After this, she worked at the Nyenrode Business University in Breukelen. From her position as a researcher at the ++The center for Corporate and Community Renewal is a research centre within the business faculty of Nyenrode University., where she devised learning programmes for many different organisations. In the almost ten years that she worked at Nyenrode she accumulated a great deal of experience regarding the development and facilitation of learning programmes that stimulate and lead to innovation and change; the participants being the action researchers and discoverers themselves, actively seeking ways to make things different and better.
Chris grew up on the small island of Marken, in the IJsselmeer (a rather unusual location for a daughter of an American father), and went to secondary school in Amsterdam-North. After graduating she went to the States for the first two years of university and profited from the typically American ++Liberal Arts collegesThese colleges oblige their students to take a large part of their courses in disciplines that are not directly related to their major., in which she followed a broad range of courses, including political science, history, literature, law, dance and drama. Upon her return to the Netherlands she studied social geography at the University of Amsterdam, in which she graduated cum laude following a three-month stay in ++The current Republic of Georgia originated with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Read more here., where she did research on the new ethnic relationships which had arisen in the country as a result of its becoming independent in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union.
When not working, Chris loves swimming in the sea, relaxing over newspapers in the weekend, and dancing until she drops. She lives with her husband and two daughters, again on an island: this time the KNSM Island in the eastern part of Amsterdam.