The .CO Icons & Innovators Series showcases interviews with the big thinkers, crazy dreamers, rule breakers and risk takers who spend their days breaking through boundaries, creating new possibilities, and transforming current realities to build the future online – on .CO, of course!
Who is Thomas Debass?
I’m the Managing Director of the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships in the U.S. Department of State. The office is essentially a public private partnership incubator/accelerator that fosters collaborations aiming to address wicked global problems or enhance U.S. diplomatic and development efforts around the world. I am powered by 4G (loving wife and three daughters). Outside of my day job, I run CoderDojo Northern Virginia, a volunteer-driven community coding club for kids, and serve as the Founding Dean of the Northern Virginia Chapter of The Awesome Foundation.
What are you trying to do in your work?
Global challenges are no longer the sole burden or responsibility of governments. These challenges require unprecedented collaborations across borders and sectors to create effective solutions.
We’re seeing corporations, foundations, civil society groups, and even startups playing an increasing role in diplomacy and development efforts around the world. With that context, my job is to promote the possibility that 1+1>2. We connect dots to make bold lines between unlikely partners and thereby find unexpected solutions (check out P3.CO). We initiate new partnerships as well as incubate ideas from outside. Our “startups” are designed to address major global challenges as well as bridge understanding and friendships among countries.
What does innovation mean to you?
To put it simply: Innovation is a lethal weapon against poverty of imagination.
.CO is a quintessential public private partnership with domain roots in Colombia. Our entire diplomacy model is promoting .COllaboration and .COoperation; and our partnerships have benefited from memorable .COol names: Africa.co, Boomcamp.co, LaIdea.co, P3.co, and now Fishackathon.co.
What’s next for you?
Global challenges, such as climate change and oceans (check out fishackathon.co), offer unique opportunities to the startup community, as they are ripe for disruption. We’re making increased efforts to work with American startups/entrepreneurs; and connect them with their counterparts (check out africa.co and boomcamp.co) around the world. Startups have great potential to be engine of growth and they can help bridge understanding across borders. Founders and innovators are the new breed of diplomats and dealmakers who are representing the best and brightest of America.
In Startups We Trust.