Nate Garvis

Founder, Naked Civics,LLC
Minneapolis, MN, United States

About Nate


Nate Garvis is the Founder of Naked Civics, LLC, an innovative public affairs consultancy focusing on Social Innovation Design and Counsel. Naked Civics produces value for clients by connecting them to the most important ideas, people and institutions in their communities of interest. Operating at the crossroads of Fortune 100 business, governments worldwide, health care systems, academic institutions, non-profits and non-governmental organizations for the past twenty years, Garvis has built the skills and relationships that help clients navigate for success by earning influential reputations in addition to asserting their brands.

Prior to creating Naked Civics, Garvis served as V.P. Government Affairs and Senior Public Affairs Officer for Target Corporation, one of the world's largest retail concerns. He serves on a number of academic, think-tank, business and non-profit boards throughout the country, including Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Rational Energy, the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Thomas University and the Public Affairs Council, which he formerly chaired. He is one of the co-founders of Dotopia, a social enterprise that is creating lifestyle philanthropy for all. Nate is a frequent lecturer and public speaker on the subject of cross-sector approaches to reengineering communities for better prosperity.

He also serves as Social Innovator in Residence and Design Council at the Social Innovation Lab at Babson College, the number one ranked business school for entrepreneurs in the nation for eighteen years running. The Social Innovation Lab is designing multi-sector approaches to creating common good outcomes for communities through the power of enterprise and design.

Nate has a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from the University of Oregon. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two young daughters.

An idea worth spreading

We can accomplish meaningful civic health by designing our values into the products, services and processes that surround our everyday lives in ways that are much more successful than merely waging political war against each other.

I'm passionate about

Moving our communities forward rather than right or left

My TED story

I was asked to present at TEDxTC last year and the good folks at chose to post my talk on the main site ( I couldn't be happier and I'm truly gratified by the conversations - supportive and not - that it has generated. Exactly my intent! Our world rises and falls on the stories and actions that we create between one another. Let's make them generous and productive.

Comments & conversations

Nate Garvis
Posted over 1 year ago
Nate Garvis: Change our culture, change our world
Greetings Joseph. Thanks for the kind words and insightful questions. Here's my take on what you're unearthing. My thinking is blended into both aspects of what you're pondering. One of the most powerful ways of creating long term, organic change is to de-politicize what it means to make movement, who gets to do it and how it's "supposed" to be done. We live in a society that seems to trump big planning, big initiatives, done by professionals (which you can measure) but we don't seem as interested in sticking around for the conversations of how are we doing and how can we do better (which is often times immeasurable). So in order to make change, I think we have to distribute our efforts widely, practice "out of the any and many come big macro impacts" and enroll others behind our efforts. And at that, I'm a fan of using carrots rather than sticks. In other words, I'm mostly (not always) fatigued by protests and boycotts. I'd rather we define our world, where possible, by what we want and are willing to build rather than what we don't want and seek to stop. Finally, in terms of united people, I like to practice gathering folks with radically diverse backgrounds and then de-labeling them. When venturing into unknown worlds, you want to increase your experiences. One way to do that is to hang out with people who are differently experienced than you. But then it's time to take away the labels: it doesn't matter as much as to what your title, education, politics, etc. are than what you want to do and who you want to do it with. People with different areas of "expertise" often times create more change than the "experts". In sum, big change will come in many, smaller ways. We'll iterate our way into it rather than plan for it. And everyone should be welcome to the party. There you have it! Thanks again for your post. Be well! Nate
Nate Garvis
Posted over 3 years ago
Nate Garvis: Change our culture, change our world
Hi folks. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of the conversations and comments that have been generated by this TED Talk. Whether supportive or not, they're all important perspectives. Indeed, one of the things I love about the TED community is the culture of people who can disagree (important) and not be disagreeable to one another (not productive). I realize that what I presented were general concepts and I'm going to rely on the excuse of having to fit these ideas into a short form speech. But that said, this is not just theory but has been my practice for nearly 20 years and I can point back to a number of successful public policy design approaches that never required the passage of a law. It is important to for me to emphasize a word here, however, and that is the word "and". I am not arguing that laws in and of themselves are unworthy of our care and attention. And at that I do believe that we honor the better part of ourselves and our communities when we do not have to rely on that type of burdensome regulation. There are so many opportunities to do well by ourselves just by doing the right thing, taking the humane path and tapping into our boundless reservoirs of creativity. Our world is complex, ambiguous and dynamic. We are going to need to call upon all of our designs. The TED community presents an awesomely powerful mindset of leaning into our future with intelligence and heart. I'm grateful to be a part of it. Best regards to you all, Nate