Suneel Kamlani and the Connecticut Infrastructure Bank Plan
Deeply disturbed by the consequences of underinvestment in critical infrastructure in the United States over the last half century, highly successful former investment banker Suneel Kamlani set out to address the problem by launching an innovative infrastructure bank model that he honed as a 2016 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow. To implement his social innovation, Kamlani, an unaffiliated private citizen, needed to convince states to pass new legislation permitting its establishment, despite his lack of legislative knowhow and institutional power. This case study chronicles Kamlani's development of his solution for infrastructure underinvestment and his relentless efforts to build a robust multi-stakeholder coalition using advanced leadership practices to try to pass infrastructure bank legislation in his home state of Connecticut. It shows how he worked with elected state officials and other stakeholders to champion the effort and how he tried-both successfully and unsuccessfully--to overcome entrenched interests. It provides background for an in-depth discussion regarding 1) the degree to which Kamlani's skill set, his chosen solution pathway, and his targeted societal problem aligned to tackle the infrastructure underinvestment issue, and 2) the strategies and advanced leadership skills that individuals without legislative expertise or formalized institutional power in state government can employ to build coalitions and pass new legislation. The case study opens on June 3, 2019 with Kamlani on the cusp of a major legislative victory for his Connecticut Infrastructure Bank (CIB) initiative. It concludes with the Governor's unexpected withdrawal shortly thereafter of support for the CIB bill and the CIB coalition's relaunch of the legislative effort in early 2020.