Matthias Strolz, Mansi Shah, Prakhar Bhartiya and Preeta Bansal

Politics + Heart

"Power without love is brutality, but love without consideration of power is sentimentality. How to make power express love, and love humanize power, is the distinctive task for the next hundred years," Reinhold Neibuhr noted in 1920s.  In the face of a public governance ecosystem of mixed incentives, varied goals, and diverse visions, where compromise is a necessary virtue, what is the role of principled values in politics?  For all love-based grassroots movements that have shaped human history, we equally see the invisible hand of power -- from ending slavery to women gaining the right to vote -- in implementing those visions for humanity. The onus of skilfully balancing the bridge-building capacity of love and boundary-setting capacity of power lies with politicians, and the architectures of the systems they operate in. As we embrace the most accelerated and interwoven global culture in our history, how do we encourage political leadership that is trained in a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness, and evolve our governance systems so individual and collective "intelligence of the heart" can flourish in our policies? 

Join us for a unique call with Matthias Strolz (founder of NEOS, a political party in Austria); Mansi Shah (a leading advocate in US); and Prakhar Bhartiya (Co-founder of Indian School of Democracy), as they dialogue on Politics+Heart, moderated by Preeta Bansal (former senior policy advisor at the White House and New York State Solicitor General).

Matthias Strolz is an impact entrepreneur, capacity builder and former politician based in Austria. He is the founder of the political party NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum, and was its first leader and a member of Austria's National Council (2013 -2018). He studied political science, international economics, and systemic organisational development in Austria and internationally. Unexpectedly, one of his deepest inspirations in life came when suddenly the universe started talking to him – in the form of a tree. What followed was a year of profound dialogue -- with his favourite pine tree -- revolving around the big life issues that affect us deeply and make us human – birth and death, time and space, politics and the state, pain and love, that left him deeply transformed! He is also an author, publicist, coach and speaker, and is a proud husband and father of three daughters. Most recently, he has found deep inspiration in Gandhi and the power of creative love, which in turn has also inspired his next music album featuring a track titled "What Would Love Do?"

Mansi Shah, partner at Kilaptrick Townsend, is one of the leading technology lawyers in the US. Fifteen years ago, when starting her legal practice, the firm’s partner curiously asked "Are you the Mansi Shah who wrote the article ‘Aparigraha’ (non-attachment) for the Young Jains of America?"  He ended up becoming her lifelong mentor, teacher and friend. Mansi went on to scale new heights in her legal career. But, inspired by her upbringing in the religious tradition of Jainism, the undercurrent of the deeper “laws” of shared humanity have continued to ground and guide her life. Her experience working with her first pro-bono client, helped her discover joy and meaning in offering her gifts freely. Listening to a homeless man for thirty minutes (and writing him thank you notes!), helped her discover the innate intelligence in each human. Adopting her second child, Ellora (who turns 4 on the day of our call!), helped her see the invisible threads of life through which we all are connected. “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain.”  is the mantra she lives by today.

Prakhar Bhartiya, is the co-founder of Indian School of Democracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing principled political leaders in India, the world's largest democracy. Inspired by Vinoba Bhave, at an early age, he decided to commit his life to building grassroots movements by connecting people heart-to-heart. While at college, he started Youth Alliance, a movement to awaken deeper harmony -- among India's youth -- with oneself, others and nature. A mentor to multiple social entrepreneurs, Prakhar also serves on the board of other non-profits such as Kat Katha and Shikshartha. He is an engineer, a Teach for India fellow and holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Columbia University, New York. He feels deeply connected to the songs of Saint Kabir (like this one!), and also loves to engage in heartful conversations over coffee. 

Preeta Bansal, will be moderating the dialogue. She served for more than 25 years in some of the most senior posts in the public and private sectors – from the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court, to US diplomatic and human rights work, to the top echelons of state government and global corporations and law firms. A constitutional lawyer and an architect of social systems and governance frameworks, she advised on the drafting of the constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan. After a long career scaling the heights of external and institutional power, she has spent much of the last decade deeply plumbing depths of "being" for the source of internal power. She is a regular meditator and a global anchor and volunteer at ServiceSpace, and a ladder and thought leader across diverse ecosystems in seeding a more harmonious intersection of love and power, and in cultivating the inner and outer work of democracy.

We welcome you to join us in this unique dialogue with these uncommon political leaders and ladders.