EOP_40thCelebrationFor Nelson Del Rio—founder and President of Emergent Intelligence Solutions—solving some of the world’s most vexing problems boils down to a seemingly simple principle.  “It’s all about improving the human condition in a just and equitable manner, no matter what problem you’re trying to answer.”

This helps explain why Del Rio is passionate about not a single issue, but rather a suite of issues that shape our global society.  Inherently trans-disciplinary, he acknowledges that to create an equitable and just society we must have healthy and robust families, communities, ecosystems, businesses—you name it.  “Everything is linked and solutions must be designed in a sustainable and scalable fashion,” he says.  “To solve our biggest issues, we must agree on the goals and metrics necessary to monitor and support movement towards real and durable solutions, thinking fully about the complexity of the systems that surround us.  If we do that, we’ll achieve success.”

Del Rio puts this vision into practice serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the UW’s College of the Environment.  He brings a lifetime of experience and his connections across a spectrum of disciplines to help tie environmental science and policy to the wider world.   He and his family also generously established the Del Rio Endowed Scholarship Fund for Environmental Studies.  The scholarship is aimed at helping underrepresented youth receive a higher education and participate in real-world research and problem-solving, with the hope that students will learn to think globally and develop a passion to make a difference in their communities and indeed the world.

Del Rio is convinced that many students share his view of a better-connected world, understanding our planet and communities function together rather than as a series of ostensibly unrelated parts.  “Students these days already exist and interact in connected systems.  They are now growing up with the Internet and smartphones, and forever will be active participants in the digital globe.  My hope is that the Del Rio scholarship fund can help students assimilate information across disciplines and ultimately encourage the development of individuals capable of critical thought who question every assumption and fixed schema they encounter.  Such individuals will be the thought leaders of tomorrow. ”

Del Rio is a champion of the UW, which has played a pivotal role in his own life.  Dropping out of high school, Del Rio was later encouraged to enroll when he was nineteen at the UW.  He did so, and ultimately graduated in three years at the top of his class in economics.  He went on to Harvard Law School, spent time as a Wall Street merger and acquisition attorney, worked in securitization and then created new forms of public-private partnership development.  He established Emergent Intelligence Solutions and the Del Rio Family Foundation, which helps advance causes including education, health, and science programs that seek to improve the condition of emerging communities of the world.