Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/26/2014

scottJennifer Scott, Class of 2008
Director, Strategy, Sunergise

As a Kennedy Memorial Scholar at Harvard Kennedy School, I was invited to participate in the 2008 International Achievement Summit in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It was the summer between my first and second year at grad school; the first year of my degree had hurtled by, incredibly rapidly, and I was starting to wonder about what came next. Being at that stage of life — open to everything and determined to throw your energies out into the world — the Summit in Hawaii was truly electrifying. I remain deeply grateful for the experience, and to have been able to share it with such an outgoing, remarkable group of peers —friendships and bonds that continue to this day.

There were too many incredible moments from of our time in Kona to mention here. Just a few that come to mind: the hypnotic, ethereal underwater images of David Doubilet; the livening intellect and charisma of Lisa Randall; the passionate, inspiring story of Greg Mortenson; and the insightful, humorous reflections of Frank McCourt. I remember one particular conversation with Nicholas Kristof, talking at length with him about how he had come to form his belief that educating girls and women is the most powerful of all development tools. This resonated with my own experiences in India and the Maldives, and I have thought of his words often since then.

After grad school, pursuing my passion in this area took me to Bangladesh, where I was part of a fantastic team helping to develop safer workplaces and better job opportunities for young female migrants in the garment industry; to Peru, where I had the opportunity to learn from some fiercely determined and successful women entrepreneurs; and to Papua New Guinea, where I have worked with the World Bank to bring literacy, energy and basic health services to indigenous women whose remote communities have been turned upside down by extractive industries.

These experiences were tremendous privileges. I learned a lot, traveled and met some amazing people, and hopefully contributed in a few small but meaningful ways. Yet after a few years, I had a persistent feeling that there was something a bit surreal about my lifestyle. I questioned the itinerancy of it, and doubted the utility of my ephemeral engagement in these complex, intractable contexts. I have always loved poetry, and a few of the words from W.S. Merwin’s marvelous speech had stayed with me from the Summit. I don’t remember the exact phrases, but he spoke of the importance of finding roots in a “place” rather than looking for “situations,” and of his belief that all people should seek vocations that express their singularity, their unique talents and make their own contribution to the world. This reflection inspired me, and I realized I needed to radically change my life.

I was living in D.C. at the time, but I have always felt a strong affinity with nature, having grown up in a fishing village, and have found myself happiest when outdoors and in the ocean on my surfboard. At the same time, the more I traveled in the developing world, the more I came to believe in the power of a commercial approach to service delivery. I’d long been interested in solar energy, and I had a vague idea that I could combine this with my passions for protecting the environment and my interest in an entrepreneurial approach to helping people help themselves.

So I sold or gave away most of my furniture and belongings, left my apartment in the U.S., and moved to Fiji. It was, in all ways, a leap of faith. I knew nobody there, and had no idea how I was going to transition from part-time consulting in international development to setting up a solar company in the Pacific Islands. Yet two years on — through an amazing stroke of luck in linking up with likeminded people, and with a ton of hard work from all of us — that’s exactly what I am doing. The company is called Sunergise, and we are a full-service solar developer, working to bring businesses and communities clean, affordable energy. From December 22, 2012, when our first installation was completed (and then promptly struck by a hurricane — but it survived!) until today, when we have almost 3MW installed, it’s been a wild journey, but I’m grateful for all of it. Participating in the Academy’s Summit, though I didn’t realize it at the time, helped to immerse me in a world of people whose lives demonstrate that almost anything is possible if you commit wholeheartedly. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Catherine and Wayne Reynolds for their generosity and vision in helping to inspire me, and so many others, as we find our places in the world.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/28/2014

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Anna Greka, M.D., Ph.D.,
Class of 2003
Harvard Medical School

“One of the most exciting people I met in Washington, D.C. during the International Achievement Summit was Dr. Francis Collins, who was at the time deeply immersed in the Human Genome Project. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-funded M.D.-Ph.D. student at Harvard, I was delighted with the opportunity to have a fascinating conversation with Dr. Collins about the enormous potential of sequencing the human genome. Now, more than a decade later, Dr. Collins is the Director of NIH, and I am on faculty at Harvard Medical School. I felt that we had come full circle when, to my great delight, I received notice that Dr. Collins had chosen my work on a potential new treatment for kidney disease to be featured in the tenth anniversary celebration of the NIH Common Fund. I am enormously honored and excited, and can’t wait to remind him of that conversation we had at the International Achievement Summit so many years ago!”

Anna Greka, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, holds an AB from Harvard College and an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School. Early in her biology studies, she worked in the field of molecular and cellular neuroscience, publishing two “first author” papers before the age of 21.

As a student in the Harvard-MIT M.D.-Ph.D. program in the Division of Health Sciences and Technology (laboratory of Dr. David Clapham), she explored the role of TRPC channels in neuronal growth cone motility. Her work, funded by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship, was published in Nature Neuroscience, Nature Cell Biology and Developmental Cell.

Upon establishing her independent laboratory, Dr. Greka published a senior author paper in Science Signaling, which was featured on the Science website with an editorial titled “Calcium signals both stop and go” (2010). More recently, her work in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (2013) revealed TRPC5 as the first ion channel targeted therapy for kidney disease, also featured in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (2014).

Additionally, Dr. Greka has recently published co-senior author papers in Nature Communications (2013) and in the New England Journal of Medicine (2013), the latter highlighted by an editorial titled “A New Era of Podocyte-Targeted Therapy for Proteinuric Kidney Disease.”

Dr. Greka has been invited to lecture nationally and internationally, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including career development awards from the American Society of Nephrology and the American Heart Association, and a 2014 Young Physician Scientist Award from the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

She currently serves as the founding director of Glom-NExT, a Center for Glomerular Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/27/2014

payeJohn Paye
Class of 1983
Inductee, Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame

As a California high school senior at Menlo School in the winter of 1983, I had just been named the Offensive Football Player of the Year by a new national newspaper called USA Today. Shortly after this honor, I received an invitation in the mail to be honored as a student delegate at the Academy of Achievement Summit in San Diego. At first, I ignored the invitation because I thought it was just another promotion for a vanity publication. However, soon afterwards my high school athletic director found me on campus to say that he just got a call from the office of William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, and he wanted to know why I had not accepted my invitation to the Banquet of the Golden Plate that they were helping sponsor with the Academy of Achievement. Immediately upon hearing of Mr. Hewlett’s involvement in the event, I signed up to attend the event and I have been thankful ever since.

At the Academy Summit at the Hotel Coronado in 1983, I was inspired to meet people like Dr. Robert K. Jarvik and Dr. William C. DeVries (who were responsible for the first artificial heart implantation), Burt Reynolds, Joe Theismann, and Donald Rumsfeld. However, it was meeting and developing a personal relationship with the founder of the Academy, Brian Reynolds, and his son, Wayne Reynolds, that was most inspiring for me. Their concept of encouraging and empowering young people to be “great” by exposing them to role models had a lasting impression on me. The Reynolds family invited me to their next two summits as their guest—in Minneapolis (1984) and Denver (1985)—and from that time on I wanted to be involved in similar programs.

While I have not seen or talked to the Reynolds family in the last 30 years, I used my success in sports (I am the only athlete in the world to play with and against Joe Montana, Michael Jordan and Barry Bonds) to be a role model and to produce my own events to inspire young people.

Even though I have earned a Super Bowl Ring with the San Francisco 49ers and have been inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame, the most rewarding aspect of my last 30 years has been following the lead of Brian and Wayne Reynolds, and developing programs that allow me to see the glow in young people’s faces when they are motivated and inspired.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/08/2014

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Peter Greer, Class of 2004
President and CEO, HOPE International

Participating in the International Achievement Summit inspired me to dream big dreams. Truly one of the highlights of my life, the 2004 Summit afforded me the privilege of visiting some of Chicago’s most picturesque spots while developing friendships with world-changers who serve with talent and tenacity. How could our group of student delegates not be inspired to try and follow in their footsteps?

Since graduating from Harvard’s Kennedy School and attending the International Achievement Summit, I have served as president and CEO of HOPE International, a global faith-based microfinance network serving some of the world’s most challenging places, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Haiti. Over the past decade, we have increased the number of families served from 5,000 to over 600,000 globally and seen private fundraising revenue grow at a compound annual rate of over 50 percent. As we focus on equipping individuals to work their own way out of poverty, I have been inspired by another group of world-changers: hard-working entrepreneurial women and men who are working with talent and tenacity to escape extreme poverty.

One of the impacts of the Summit was meeting authors I admire who grasp the power of story. Over the past years, I’ve written or co-authored books on the intersection of faith and international development, including The Poor Will Be GladThe Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, Mission Drift, and Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing. Today, I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with my amazing wife Laurel and our three children.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 04/08/2014

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Ashley Wysong, M.D., MS, Class of 2008
Director of Dermatologic Surgery, University of Southern California

As a Howard Hughes Medical Fellow, I was selected as an Academy of Achievement Honor Delegate at the 2008 International Achievement Summit in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I was a fourth year medical student at the time of the Summit, and had no idea how integral my fellow delegates and the Academy members would be at such a pivotal time in my life. I was inspired to define my future in a way that would be meaningful to me and would “ignite my passions, rather than doing what is expected,” as suggested by Ken Griffin, the first speaker of the Summit. I went on to graduate as valedictorian of my class at Duke University School of Medicine and continued my residency training at Stanford University in the Department of Dermatology. There, I found the words of W.S. Merwin constantly challenging me to “do that which only you can be doing,” to find my larger purpose and unique place in the world.

As a former NCAA student athlete, I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for athletics with my growing expertise in cutaneous oncology and skin cancer prevention. Enlisting the help of several colleagues at Stanford, we founded SUNSPORT, an educational outreach program dedicated to reducing skin cancer and photodamage in NCAA athletes. I authored the first medical research study quantifying the amount of time spent by the average NCAA athlete in training and competing outdoors, as well identifying predictors and barriers to sunscreen use. Using these data, I worked closely with NCAA leadership to include “sun safety information” as a topic in the 2012-13 NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook. We had officially put sun safety on the radar for NCAA athletes, coaches, physicians, and trainers! Coming full circle with my athletic career, I was recently inducted into the University of Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame. It was truly an unforgettable weekend—over 75 coaches, teammates, family members, and fans from several stages of my life came to cheer me on and celebrate. I was reminded again of the words of Bill Russell: “We are all the result of a team effort Many conspired to get us where we are.” I also remember reminiscing that weekend about something Naomi Judd said at the Summit on the importance of “knowing our own stories and history…” that is, knowing where we came from, “…before we can truly decide on where we are going.”

So where am I going? I am now finishing my clinical fellowship in Mohs Surgery and Procedural Dermatology at Scripps Clinic. In July, I will officially begin my medical career as Assistant Professor and Director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at the University of Southern California (USC). I could not be more excited! At Los Angeles County Hospital, I will be honored to treat and serve people from all walks of life with a variety of cutaneous conditions such as skin cancer, burns or traumatic scars, varicose veins and leg ulcers. At Keck Hospital of USC and the Norris Cancer Center, I plan to build a multidisciplinary care team for high-risk skin cancer patients, as well as to continue my sun safety outreach to athletes and school-aged children. Last, but certainly not least, a significant amount of my energy will be spent training the next generation of dermatologists; we have ten residents and countless medical students who come through the department. I hope to mentor and challenge them in the true Academy of Achievement spirit, to know themselves fully, to follow their passions, and to “do that which only they can be doing.”

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Academy, and thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, in my life!

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 04/07/2014

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Enrique Schaerer, Class of 2008
President, Upswing Law

The summer after graduating from law school, I had a unique experience. As my bar exam approached, I was whisked away from the drudgery of bar prep to a surreal weekend respite in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. As a Student Delegate to the 2008 International Achievement Summit, I rubbed shoulders with remarkable innovators, leaders, visionaries, and artists—folks like Michael Dell, Archbishop Tutu, Mayor Daley, George Lucas, Frank McCourt, and an up-and-coming singer named Taylor Swift.

The Summit was humbling but also deeply inspiring. I may not have realized it at the time, but a seed was planted that weekend. I began to see things as I’ve never quite seen them before. The Summit strengthened my resolve not to follow a safe, well-worn path but to do something truly creative, meaningful and impactful with my life. Someday, I thought.

Well, someday is today. After clerking for two federal judges and practicing law at two big firms, where I learned from extraordinarily accomplished people, I recently decided to strike out on my own—in pursuit of more creativity, greater meaning, and a bigger impact. I’m now a co-founder and president of a legal recruiting startup that uses technology to match lawyers and law firms based on mutual compatibility. I also plan to practice law again soon, this time in a smaller setting and with greater emphasis on the basic legal needs of my local community.

I’m on the road less traveled, and I suspect the Summit played no small part in getting me to this point. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 03/31/2014

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Rear Admiral Joseph E. Tofalo, USN, Class of 1977
Director, Undersea Warfare Division (N97)

Rear Adm. Tofalo participated as a student delegate in the 1977 Achievement Summit in Orlando, Florida. He grew up in upstate New York and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Rear Adm. Tofalo also holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Catholic University of America.

A career submarine officer, his at-sea assignments include: division officer in USS Flasher (SSN 613); engineer officer in USS Michigan (SSBN 727); and executive officer in USS Montpelier (SSN 765). His at-sea command assignments were as commanding officer, USS Maine (SSBN 741), and commander, Submarine Squadron Three.

Shore assignments include: U.S. Naval Academy (aide to the Superintendent); Chief of Naval Operations staff (N81 Analyst, and N8 deputy executive assistant); the Joint Staff (J7); United States Joint Forces Command (Joint War Fighting Center); commander, Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet (senior member of the Tactical Readiness Evaluation team, and prospective commanding officer instructor). Following major command, Tofalo served as executive assistant to the commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and as executive assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Selected for Rear Admiral in December 2009, his first flag assignment was as assistant deputy chief of Staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations (N3B), U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va. In August 2011 he relieved as commander, Submarine Group Ten, and in January 2014 as Director, Undersea Warfare Division on the Navy Staff in the Pentagon.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 11/15/2013

TUNKEL_IMG_2395Anna Tunkel, Class of 2005
Vice President & Director of Strategic Initiatives, APCO Worldwide

As I look back at my takeaways from the International Achievement Summit I attended in 2005 in New York City, I am reminded what a remarkable four days those were. I have attended numerous global summits and conferences since then, but it was only during the International Achievement Summit that I felt so inspired — by my peers, and by the incredibly approachable leaders and luminaries who took part in the Summit that year.

I owe a great deal of my career journey to the Academy. In a fortuitous turn of events, at a luncheon hosted by Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, I found myself seated next to Margery Kraus, the Founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, a global public affairs, communication and business strategy consulting firm. At that time, I was halfway through my Master’s studies at Georgetown and was familiar with APCO from my internship search. Apparently, she had looked at my résumé earlier and became interested in my Russian-Israeli background, given APCO’s extensive work in Russia, and coincidentally, the opening of its Israeli office that very month.

Following that encounter, I joined APCO’s D.C. headquarters as an intern in my second year of my MSFS studies. I have now been with the company for over eight years. Many observers point to the millennial generation’s restlessness, and suggest that we feel the need to switch jobs every two-to-three years. I feel very lucky at APCO, to have had four different jobs that have taken me around the world and back. At present, I am a Vice President and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the office of the CEO, managing our partnerships with leading international organizations and overseeing a number of global projects for the firm.

The last eight years have been a roller-coaster for me, taking me to almost every one of APCO’s 33 offices in 29 countries, from negotiations in Kazakhstan, to a Deputy Prime Minister’s office in Vietnam, to meetings with some of the world’s most fascinating entrepreneurs and philanthropists, to attending eight Davos conferences, and much more. After my internship, I joined full-time as a special assistant to APCO’s founder and CEO, focusing on global business development, strategic partnerships and a number of special projects. I prepared the CEO’s trips to more than a dozen markets, working closely with the senior management of the company and with APCO’s diverse global team of over 650 consultants. I have had the opportunity to participate in negotiations, and to witness strategy development at the highest decision-making level.

After four-and-a-half years in that position, I was offered an exciting new opportunity with the company — to move to Shanghai and manage a number of our projects in the region, including initiatives around Shanghai World Expo 2010. I have always had a special interest in China (I have studied Mandarin since my undergraduate studies), so I jumped on an opportunity to work in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. In Shanghai, I managed a number of teams and projects, working with fascinating clients: Chinese corporations that were rapidly expanding overseas, and multinational firms seeking to succeed in China. My clients included the world’s second largest telecom company, an emerging market sovereign wealth fund, the world’s leading design and innovation company, and many others.

After a two-year stint in China, I returned to the U.S., and have been promoted to a VP position, leading a number of external initiatives and partnerships for the firm, expanding our work with the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative, and managing a number of global client projects.

When I started my graduate degree at Georgetown, my dream was to become a diplomat. During the International Achievement Summit, I saw a variety of impactful career paths with one common denominator – striving to make our world a better place. I have carried that motivation throughout the years, and was fortunate to have a career in business diplomacy, working with governments, private sector firms, foundations and non-profits on some of the core issues on the global agenda today – from water and food security, to renewable energy, to human rights and development.

I want to wish the Academy a very happy 50th Anniversary! You are doing truly amazing work that has touched and inspired so many of us!

I would love to stay in touch – follow me on Twitter @atunkel

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 11/15/2013

raben_Robert-photo-320Robert Raben, Class of 1982
President, Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

Robert Raben honed an aggressively bipartisan approach during a highly respected legislative career that began on the staff of Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) and culminated in the endorsement by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) of his appointment to the Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs.

Raben served as counsel to Congressman Frank for seven years, advising Mr. Frank on issues before the Judiciary Committee, and on national civil rights policy. The quality of his work soon carried Raben to the Committee itself, where he served as Democratic counsel for the Subcommittee on the Constitution, and later, the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property.

Raben built a reputation for collegiality and effectiveness through his collaboration with Republican members and staff on issues including the omnibus patent reform bill, database protection standards, and copyright liability for Internet service providers. His work caught the eye of the White House, and in 1999, he was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and, subsequently, Assistant Attorney General.

After a unanimous confirmation vote, Raben was charged with overseeing Attorney General Janet Reno’s legislative initiatives.  He dealt extensively with both chambers and both sides of the aisle as chief lobbyist and strategist on a range of issues, including intellectual property, federalism, tort reform and cybercrime.

After graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University School of Law, Raben was an associate with the law firm of Arnold & Porter. Soon after, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University Law School as an adjunct professor, a position he continued to hold until his confirmation as Assistant Attorney General.

Today, Robert Raben is the President of the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, D.C., and chairs the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Endorsement Committee. He serves on the boards of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 11/04/2013

mcs_ksg_color_headshot-400Maura C. Sullivan, Class of 2009
Commissioner, American Battle Monuments Commission

As a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, Maura Sullivan served as a logistics officer in Fallujah, Iraq, and as a platoon commander and aide-de-camp in military exercises throughout Southeast Asia. She attended Northwestern University on an ROTC scholarship, graduating with a B.A. in Economics and History. She completed graduate studies at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and at Harvard Business School.  On behalf of the American Battle Monuments Commission, she spoke at the Memorial Day Ceremony of the Margraten American Cemetery in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on May 26, 2013. A brief excerpt from her remarks appears below, followed by a link to the compete text of her remarks on that occasion.

I am honored to be with you today representing the American Battle Monuments Commission. Established by the United States Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of the U.S. armed forces.”

 “The journey that led me to be with you today began when I was a child-hearing the stories of my grandfathers who both served in World War II.”

“Years later, a summer training program at a Marine Corps base in Virginia would also compel me to follow in my family’s footsteps. The esprit de corps and camaraderie of the Marines were contagious. I couldn’t wait to be a part of the Corps. Eight years later, I left the active duty Marine Corps as a Captain. The opportunity to serve my country alongside her finest sons and daughters has been the greatest honor of my life.”

“You know, we live in a time of uncertainty, yet I remain inspired and hopeful.”

 “First — is America’s next generation of leaders. Just four weeks ago, I traveled to Quantico, Virginia just outside or our nation’s capital and watched 42 new Marine Corps Second Lieutenants raise their right hands and swear an oath to ‘support and defend the constitution of the United States.’ These young Marine Corps lieutenants are no different than… …the others that lie here. They are selfless. They are brave. They are women of conviction and men of integrity. They possess a physical and moral courage beyond which most can fathom. They are Patriots. They believe in a greater good — in a cause much bigger than their individual humanity.”

 “Second is each of you — two and three generations later, the Dutch people adopt graves into your own families, boy scouts placed 8,000 sets of flags on these graves this week, and there remains a wait-list 3,000 long to adopt a grave. Simply put, you have brought those lost from our families into your own and have committed to do so for generations to come.”

 “Those that lie hear are our America’s greatest treasure. Those that raise their right hand today to serve are America’s greatest hope. And you — the people of the Netherlands — are among our country’s greatest friends, and by caring for our fallen, have become a part of our family.”MCS_remarks_Margraten_2013_500

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 11/04/2013

paradis-275Michel Paradis, Class of 2007
U.S. Department of Defense; Law Professor, Georgetown University

In 2007, I was in the middle of my doctoral studies at Oxford when I was lucky enough to be invited to the International Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C. Soon thereafter, I moved to D.C. when the U.S. Department of Defense hired me to serve as legal counsel to the Guantanamo Bay detainees. If there is a worthwhile challenge — be it professionally, morally, or intellectually — it is being appointed to fight day in and day out for the rule of law in a place that many fear has become a “legal black hole.”

I have had my victories and defeats along the way. I have argued landmark cases on the intersection between the law of war and the Constitution. But through the ups and downs and the exhaustion and excitement, I have always tried to remember Archbishop Tutu’s admonition that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. It is a lesson I have tried to impress upon my law students at Georgetown. And it is a lesson that is particularly important for people privileged with talent and opportunity; put another way, the people the Academy brings together each year.

The Summit was a great experience, not least because I got to meet and be inspired by Archbishop Tutu in person. There is a “contact high” from mingling with so many talented and accomplished people at the Summit. It reminds you of what you can achieve, and how far you still have to go. It imbues you with the confidence to earn the opportunities you have been given, by pursuing justice and daring greatly.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 10/15/2013

SaulGarlick_099_350Saul Garlick, Class of 2007
Founder & CEO, ThinkImpact

I remember the 2007 International Achievement Summit like it was yesterday. One evening in the bar of the Hay Adams hotel, I turned around and, embarrassingly, bumped into a lady who was chatting with a friend. I apologized and introduced myself. After a moment of small talk, I learned that I had nearly knocked over the former Secretary of Agriculture and then-Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman. It was a moment that sparked a friendship, prefaces to books, idea exchanges, speaking events and even board memberships in the years following.

Ann and I became friends at the Academy of Achievement because the event fostered an environment where we were able to share ideas, engage with one another, and think big together. In the six years since I attended the Summit — an event I still speak about fondly — I have built a non-profit organization, which I later bought out in favor of a for-profit social enterprise model. I have led nearly 500 people on global immersion programs, supported the creation of over 100 new micro-enterprises, been featured as an Inc. “30 under 30″ entrepreneur, and have been recognized in the New York Times as a provocative social entrepreneur for my decision to create a for-profit, called ThinkImpact, from a non-profit. It’s been a busy half-decade.

The most exciting memories are the ones where my leadership was tested and my interest in politics, leadership and entrepreneurship met. The Academy was a remarkable opportunity for me to learn from others who are leaders in their respective fields. From hearing David Rubenstein of Carlyle Group challenge the entire delegation of young leaders with three simple words “Do not coast,” to hearing about Andre Agassi’s ambitious plans for education, I left inspired, and hungrier than ever to make an impact in the world.

The company I have built over the last several years is dedicated to providing immersive learning experiences around the globe to encourage young people not to coast. Our vehicle is education — not only for the students who travel with us  to Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and now Panama, but also for the people who live in the small rural villages where we work.

We have spent tremendous time and resources to understand how people learn through experiences and how we can create programs that benefit equally the students and the communities they work with. What has emerged is an offering that guides young people through understanding the assets and resources that exist in a community, no matter how far away from the electrical grid. Our scholars work in teams with aspiring local entrepreneurs who are ready to create a sustainable livelihood, testing ideas for products and services and bringing them to the marketplace. The results have been tantamount to uncovering a bold new approach to learning and growing.

The company has not stopped there. We have now developed a technology platform that brings this process to life for people anywhere. You should not have to attend a top university to gain access to the experiential framework that can create a livelihood that feeds a family, or build an enterprise that enhances life across a country or region. With technology, there are no limitations, and through Unleesh, our newest tool, anything is possible.

Entrepreneurship has taken me on a journey across continents and regions, and has provided me with a microphone for sharing ideas and building a better future for people throughout the world. The Academy of Achievement helped me get started. I am pleased to report that our work has only just begun.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/11/2013

george_sandozJeff George, Class of 1999
CEO, Sandoz

In late 2008, I was appointed CEO and Global Head of Sandoz, the world’s second-largest generic pharmaceutical company, with 2012 sales of $8.7 billion and over 26,000 employees in more than 140 countries. Sandoz is a division of the Swiss-based Novartis Group, on whose Executive Committee I also sit. Our product price points at Sandoz are accessible to nearly 90 percent of the world’s population and reached over 420 million patients around the world last year.

Prior to assuming my current position at Sandoz, I led Emerging Markets for Novartis Pharmaceuticals across 65 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Prior to this, I was responsible for Novartis Vaccines in Western and Eastern Europe from the UK to Russia. Before joining Novartis, I worked as a Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Business Development at Gap Inc. in San Francisco, and prior to this, I was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, also based in San Francisco.

I received my MBA from Harvard University in 2001 after completing my Masters at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where I studied international economics and the political economy of emerging markets. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, I have been living in Munich, Germany, with my wife and two daughters, for the past five years.

Reflecting on the several days I spent at the International Achievement Summit in Budapest in the summer of 1999 brings back fond memories of the terrific people I met and the incredible experience that the Academy of Achievement organized for us in my first visit to Hungary. I am grateful to the Academy for the role it plays in shaping leaders and I look forward to re-engaging with it in the future.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/10/2013

et_Ross-Garland-picRoss Garland, Class of 2000
Producer, Rogue Star Films

Towards the end of my post-graduate legal studies at Oxford University, I was fortunate to attend the 2000 International Achievement Summit in London as an honor student delegate. I’m now a film producer based back home in South Africa. My films range from art house films like the musical U-Carmen eKhayelitsha and the drama Confessions of a Gambler, to more commercial films such as the heist film 31 Million Reasons, and three comedies in the Spud franchise with John Cleese. I also have my own litigation practice, specializing in public and commercial law.

My memories of the summit remain vivid. It was a jam-packed few days that served as an inspirational bridge from our student achievements to the beginnings of ours working lives. The stature of the leaders who attended was awe-inspiring. I spoke to Jeremy Irons about the best way to get into the entertainment game (he told me to buy a theater), had lunch with Quincy Jones, and passed time with the only Nobel Prize winner from my high school, Sir Aaron Klug. And of course, the Google guys, Sergey Brin and Larry Page — not much older than most of us honor students — made a lasting impression. My peers were no less impressive, and many have gone on to outstanding careers in their respective fields. The Academy was, in that manner, quite prescient. I am proud to be an alumnus.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/09/2013

MR-in-the-UCL-laboratory-polishing-samples-for-research_500Miljana Radivojević, Ph.D., Class of 2007
Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Looking back at summer 2007, I still cannot believe that the Academy of Achievement meeting was six years ago. Many events, people, and stories I heard are still very much alive in my recollections and have kept inspiring me ever since. Back in 2007, and just after the 46th International Achievement Summit, I finished my M.Sc. thesis at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, in which I presented the earliest evidence for the beginnings of metallurgy in Europe. My data demonstrated that the world’s earliest known evidence for metallurgy does not come from the Near East, as previously thought, but from the Balkans. More precisely, small pieces of the precious evidence, copper smelting slag, originated from a 7,000-year-old village in eastern Serbia that I investigated. These findings opposed the traditional theory on the beginnings of world metallurgy, and as such represented a scientific breakthrough that received significant attention from the academic community, as well as a wider regional and continental audience. The M.Sc. thesis was awarded the highly esteemed Petrie Prize for outstanding research achievement, which led to an offer to conduct Ph.D. research in Archaeometallurgy at University College London (UCL).

The United Kingdom government and the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation kindly secured more than half of the Ph.D. stipend through my supervisor, Prof. Thilo Rehren. Matching funds were secured through Serbian national institutions, which were approached after a high-impact media campaign I ran to raise visibility for this research. The first research results were published in 2010 in the highly rated Journal of Archaeological Science, and instantly led to cover stories in various magazines such as Science News and BBC History News. For the following two years, it was amongst the most downloaded archaeology papers worldwide. My supervisor and I used this momentum to prepare a grant application for the large-scale investigation of early metallurgy in Eurasia, with a team comprising the world’s experts in archeometallurgy. The UK Research Council granted us more than half a million British pounds to continue research in Serbia, which secured me the job as main project researcher at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. This project is the largest foreign investment in Serbian archaeology to date, as well as the largest archaeometallurgical project in the world today.

I submitted my dissertation in June 2012, and started my job in July 2012. This project will last for three years and produce key publications shedding more light on how and why metallurgy was discovered by prehistoric communities in Eurasia. The earliest copper and tin-bronze artifacts from the Balkans are among the major scientific surprises in the studies of Eurasian metallurgy and archaeology, and have altered the traditional narrative of the development of metallurgy that was once taught to every archaeology and history student.

Needless to say, I am immensely grateful for being able to follow my true passion in life. I feel blessed for the opportunity and unconditional support I keep receiving from my family, friends and colleagues. As a researcher, I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and I can never thank enough those who helped transform my enthusiasm and ideas into scientific pursuit. I feel blessed as well for having been recognized as a young leader by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation. Back in 2007 I felt almost misplaced among peers who were curing sinister diseases, helping impoverished societies, and improving the global economy and communications. The confidence I brought with me from the International Achievement Summit gave me strength and courage to aim higher.

“The worst sin is to be a spectator,” said Ellie Wiesel on that memorable night at the Summit. It still resonates as an inspirational quote that has led me through life’s challenges ever since. These were possible to overcome only with the synergies of many dear people, two of whom have a special place in my life, Catherine and Wayne Reynolds. I humbly thank them for offering me the chance to be part of the Academy of Achievement, and to join the family of the world’s excellence.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/04/2013

haft500Nathaniel Haft, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Foreign Service Officer,
U.S. Department of State

Prior to my studies as a Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Peru, advising local farmers and artisans on business development. It was there that I gained a passion to pursue a career in American foreign policy. The Reynolds Fellowship pushed me to think boldly about the traditional role of government in diplomacy abroad. It also allowed me to develop a rich network of innovative thinkers in diverse fields — my fellow Fellows — and connected me with mentors who have led in both government and business.

After completing my fellowship, and while still a Master in Public Policy student at Harvard, I co-developed a model to estimate the carbon emissions of ship traffic along the St. Lawrence Seaway, a key international waterway jointly managed by the United States and Canada.  Our research was presented to the U.S. Department of Transportation, informing key policymakers of the relative environmental benefits of ship transport, and of the ways in which carbon emissions could be further reduced.

Since my time as a Reynolds Fellow, I have also served two tours as a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow with the State Department. In the Office of Combating Terrorism Finance, I worked at the center of innovative business-government cooperation, helping to develop methods to track Somali piracy finance networks. Later, while serving at U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, I contributed to our efforts to reduce ethnic tensions in the run-up to scheduled national elections and the drafting of a new Nepali constitution.  Over the past six months, I have been studying the Albanian language full-time in preparation for my next assignment as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania.

I am grateful for the support of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation which set me on a path to work at the center of American foreign policy. I look forward to staying connected with the Reynolds network, to incubating new ideas with my dynamic cohort of Reynolds Fellows, and to continuing to think in new ways about American leadership abroad.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/04/2013

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Santina Protopapa, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Founder and Executive Director of Progressive Arts Alliance

I was a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship while completing my master’s degree in the Arts in Education Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Today, I am the Executive Director of Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA), a non-profit organization I founded in 2002 in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. PAA exists to inspire students to reach their full potential by providing unique and relevant learning experiences using contemporary arts and 21st century media. We are working to increase our students’ academic achievement through arts-integrated education.

At PAA I am leading the development of a network of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) schools that are committed to infusing the arts into the project-based learning curriculum for students in grades K-8.  Through this network, our professional artists have become highly effective partners to classroom teachers. This work has invigorated classroom learning as well as expanded the world of possibilities for the students we serve, many of whom live at or below the federal poverty line.  Our mission is to establish best practices in the field of arts education and STEM curriculum design that can be implemented on a national scale.

My work at Progressive Arts Alliance has been strengthened as a result of the time I spent as a Reynolds Foundation Fellow. Following my experiences as a Reynolds Fellow, I returned to my position at PAA with new strategies to make our organization more successful and sustainable. I brought best practices — in financial management strategies, earned income strategies, and scaling an organization — into our strategic planning and we have successfully implemented these practices.

I’d like to thank the Reynolds Foundation for giving me the opportunity to strengthen my leadership and entrepreneurial skills through the rigorous experience of the Fellowship program and the academic curriculum at Harvard. Every day that I serve my community provides another opportunity to share what I learned as a Reynolds Fellow.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/28/2013

reichers_hs_250Christina Riechers, Class of 2012
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Evidence Action

Since finishing my dual MBA-MPA degree in International Development at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School in 2012 — thanks in large part to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship — I have been hard at work pursuing the goals that the Reynolds Fellowship inspired me to take on: building a new social enterprise to address poverty internationally with proven interventions!  There is a gap between what research shows is effective in development and what is implemented in practice. I set out to begin to fill this gap. Speakers who came during our fellowship sessions constantly challenged us to take on the daunting big problems. The problem that perplexed me most during my graduate school experience was why, in the face of emerging rigorous evidence, international development programs weren’t incorporating cost-effective interventions that had a proven impact. After graduation, I brought my new academic foundation — as well as past experiences building new ventures in East Africa and India, and time spent critically analyzing strategic opportunities as a Bain & Company consultant — to bear on this question. I joined Innovations for Poverty Action, a world leader in figuring out what works in the poverty alleviation realm through randomized controlled trials. I would help them spin out a new organization focused on implementing and scaling up the proven interventions. I am proud to announce the launch of our new organization, Evidence Action.

Starting with two programs — Dispensers for Safe Water and Deworm the World — which were tested and incubated at IPA and are already serving millions of people, Evidence Action takes proven development interventions to scale, and crafts resilient business models for long-run success. As we build the new organization with a focus on scaling impact, I think fondly on the opportunity the Reynolds Fellowship gave me to hone my skills through academic coursework at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and the exposure to peers and social entrepreneurs who will be an enduring source of inspiration for me on this journey, as we whittle away at the daunting big problems.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/15/2013

5_ColleenNLCNov12Colleen Greene, DMD, MPH, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

I could have never predicted how opportunities in my life would evolve from the beginning to the end of my year as a Reynolds Fellow. Volunteer leadership roles came my way that truly changed the course of my life. A confident and inspiring new network of peers and visiting role models helped me to see risks as chances for growth that I might otherwise have missed. I started the year as a dental student with an interest in public health. By the end of it, I was a health care professional with a national network of likeminded change agents.

Months after starting my fellowship, I became a board member for a professional organization, the American Student Dental Association. Less than a year after my fellowship, I was elected National President of this 20,000-member organization. It was a riveting crash course in politics, organized health professions, ethics, and advocacy. I can thank Wayne and Catherine Reynolds, the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and the Harvard School of Public Health for giving me the courage to seek this outlet for the skills and vision I developed as a Reynolds Fellow. 1_ColleenAndPeter

Now, I am working as a dentist in a Midwestern children’s hospital, where I treat children from every walk of life in outpatient and operating room settings. By June 2015, I will be a certified pediatric dentist. My career will remain centered on advocating optimum health and education for all children, whether through direct care, research, association leadership or political action.

I am reinvigorated just by reading the profiles of my friends from our cohort, such as Dory Gannes, Andrew Goldstein, Ryan Shephard and Jamaal Barnes. Privileges such as this fellowship come with a huge responsibility to honor it with continued risk-taking and generosity in leadership. Many thanks to all the Reynolds Fellows for demonstrating that so boldly.

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Colleen Greene meets U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, U.S. Rep of Wisconsin at his Capitol office

3_ColleenAGDLobby2013-2Colleen Greene with U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, U.S. Rep. of Ohio and the President of the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Jeff Cole

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Colleen Greene (center) with U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/15/2013

tayagJoe Araya Tayag, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Abt Associates Inc.

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to gain my Master’s in Healthcare Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and my life has been an adventure ever since.

In the three years since graduating, I’ve worked in 12 different countries in Africa, Middle East, the Pacific and the Caribbean, designing and launching of innovative forms of health financing for marginalized communities. The core of these enterprises (rooted in both the private and public sector), is based on principles of entrepreneurship that I learned during the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship: (1) sustainability is the litmus test for vetting opportunities; (2) low-income consumer are a little understood, but powerful market segment; and (3) the future of the world rests on “the imaginations of unreasonable men” (to quote our fellowship mentor Billy Shore).

After Harvard, I served as a fellow for United Nations International Labour Organization in Tanzania. I led a multi-disciplinary team of managers, business process specialists, and local staff to administer a health microinsurance program with PharmAccess Foundation and the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union for over 300,000 coffee farmers and their families. This business model is frequently studied as a model for rural health insurance delivery.

I then left the UN to serve as a Microinsurance Expert for the Asian Development Bank in the Pacific Region. I conducted a national study to qualify demand for microinsurance in Fiji, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and Fijian government. My research and design led to the launch of three different microinsurance products that are frequently studied as a case for expanding financial services through innovative distribution channels. My quantitative and qualitative research instruments are now used to evaluate price sensitivity, product preference, and strategic communications throughout Pacific Region countries such as Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Vanuatu.

After working in the Pacific, I returned to the U.S. to join Abt Associates Inc., a research and consulting firm where I serve as the International Health Financing Advisor, implementing multimillion dollar aid projects for the United States Agency for International Development, the British Department for International Development, the World Bank, and other major aid investors. In this role, I lead the design and delivery of business planning, process improvement and actuarial support, as well as monitoring and evaluation process for low-income health insurance programs in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. I also deliver technical capacity to the Malawi Ministry of Health and the Catholic Health Association of Malawi, reforming service level agreements for over 80 private facilities that deliver more than 40 percent of all health care in Malawi.

My work has been a blessing and a privilege.

Before the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship and my studies at the Harvard School of Public Health, my imagination was limited to working in California. The fellowship and my graduate education, however, taught me that the world was out there and there was much, much more to contribute.

Here I am addressing Kilimanjaro cooperative members to discuss their new health insurance program (2011):

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Working with ILO Microinsurance Innovation Facility, this family became the first policy-holders of the Imani health insurance program in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2010):

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/05/2013

arnoldChristina Arnold, Class of 2012
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow; Founder, Prevent Human Trafficking

Being named a Reynolds Fellow in 2010 was an unforgettable experience. My experience of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program gave my life a second wind.  Before this lucky break, I had never met so many like-minded people, driven to change the world in different ways. The Reynolds community, and my cohort in particular, energized me with their passion and inspired me to think deeply about what I had been doing since 1999, when I started Prevent Human Trafficking, the second organization in the country created to address a problem that few people believed existed at the time.

Until the Reynolds Fellowship, I had been struggling to be a social entrepreneur, and was exhausted from so many years of trying to make people listen to the stories of victims I had met teaching English in Thai orphanages as a teenager. I lived a very lonely existence working to change U.S. policy and to effect the legislative change known now as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which became law in late 2000. Strangely, as the movement gained momentum, and dozens (now hundreds!) of organizations adopted this issue, I felt burnt out. The only thing that kept me going for the past ten years was remembering the kids I was helping and running the annual anti-trafficking summer program in Thailand.

In my first year at NYU, I began to untangle my thinking and realized that I had been experiencing a form of compassion fatigue. I learned many invaluable lessons from listening to the rich experiences of my peers, most of whom had grappled with the same occupational hazards — the tremendous highs and lows inherent in social entrepreneurship. What a relief! Buoyed by the community, and by the time spent with my amazing cohort, I took a risk and told them about my life and what brought me to this point.

Growing up, I saw a great deal of injustice, suffering and human misery from a very young age.  I was born into a messianic, apocalyptic cult in India and raised in poverty as my family of seven crisscrossed South and Southeast Asia “spreading the gospel.”  I finally managed to leave, and came to the U.S. pregnant and without formal education. After I left the cult, I went to school nearly continuously for 13 years (this fellowship helped me to complete my education), while simultaneously founding and running my nonprofit and being a full-time mom.  Looking back, if I hadn’t been given the respite of my Reynolds Fellowship, I don’t know if I would still be running Prevent Human Trafficking today.

My experience as a Reynolds Fellow allowed me to examine the relationship between the anti-trafficking work I started as a freshman in college, and the oppressive conditions under which I was raised.  The combination of my work and my traumatic upbringing had begun to weigh me down. I had long hidden  my background from the world for fear of what might happen if I revealed how my personal and professional life intertwined. The similarities between life in a cult and life as a trafficked victim overlap in many ways.  Lack of freedom of movement, unrelenting physical and psychological abuse, deprivation and isolation, living in constant fear of consequences to the family of not complying with every cruel command, working long hours without pay, living without money or legal documents, and being terrorized by a sick, controlling leader are just a few examples.

I can talk about all of this now, unashamed, because I have now see integrating my life and work as liberating! Before the Reynolds Fellowship, I lived in fear of my past. I had not considered the damaging effects of my fragmented lives, burying so much unresolved trauma from my work and childhood. Because of the generosity of the Reynolds Foundation, I have a new freedom.  I can advocate for victims and survivors of trafficking in a way that few can, because of my experiences. I remember my life as a slave to a cult leader and I can relate to their victimization, to many of their needs, and to the long and difficult journey to becoming a survivor. Free at last!

This year, my organization is celebrating its 13th year, and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Though slavery was abolished so long ago, it still exists in many forms. My new-found freedom has inspired me to continue to work on behalf of human trafficking victims and survivors in new and more creative ways, like this one.  I am so grateful!

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/05/2013

cosmoCosmo Fujiyama, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Penn Social Impact House

When I applied for the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship more than two years ago, I had just returned to Virginia after living and working in a rural town in Honduras, establishing a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational access for Honduran youth. Energized, contemplative, and impassioned to learn how to lead organizations more effectively, I applied to New York University’s Wagner School because of the unique opportunity provided by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship.

The Reynolds program has changed my life, my career trajectory, the way I see the world and my own role within it. During my time at the Wagner School, my Reynolds colleagues pushed me to pursue my ideas, gave me critical feedback, and provided a support system from which I gained strength, knowledge and wisdom.  Alongside my graduate school work, I worked for Ashoka building a youth entrepreneurship initiative in New York City. I designed and led the Dell Social Innovation Challenge Summer Institute, where I worked with 19 fellows from 14 countries developing social ventures. I also served as President of NYU Bridge, Wagner’s student organization dedicated to social innovation. I soaked up every opportunity to read, write, learn, share, tinker, explore, attend events, listen, meet new people and think.

Currently, I am working with the University of Pennsylvania to design and build their first social impact accelerator program to train the next generation of social innovators. The Penn Social Impact House will take place in the Berkshires August 12 – 25th, 2013 with 22 fellows and more than 60 mentors engaged in social innovation globally. Furthermore, I am currently a Fellow at the Governance Lab at NYU, where I am building a free, online community for those interested in teaching and learning how to work collaboratively to solve public problems and improve people’s lives.

My vision is to re-think the way we understand learning. I am committed to working with the next generation of collaborative problem solvers. Words will not suffice for the gratitude I feel towards the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation. The Fellowship has meant the world to me and I am grateful for the tremendous opportunity to improve my skills and change the way I approach my work and the world.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/05/2013

Dory-head-shotDory Gannes, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, United Nations’ Girl Up

During my tenure as a Reynolds Fellow at Harvard, I began working with Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that provides a platform for youth to raise awareness, advocacy and funds for some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. After graduation, I left Boston and moved to Washington, D.C. to join the campaign full-time. During the next year and a half, I developed the campaign’s grassroots engagement strategy and led the campaign’s signature Teen Advisor program and Unite for Girls Tour event series. The movement is now 330,000 constituents strong and has nearly 400 Girl Up Clubs in 35 countries around the world. In my current role, I work with AT&T, Dell, Intel, Girl Rising and others within the private, public and NGO sectors to design and manage innovative partnerships. Through such partnerships, Girl Up is able to build a stronger global constituency, deepen their domestic programs and fund efforts to better the lives of girls in countries such as Guatemala and Ethiopia.

I am still involved with The Olevolos Project, a nonprofit I established in 2007 to meet the educational needs of disadvantaged children in rural Tanzania. We have built a donor and support network that has raised more than $500,000; more than 60 people have joined me on international service trips to Tanzania. I return annually to visit with students and staff while monitoring and evaluating progress.

Thinking back on my Reynolds Fellowship experience, I am most thankful for the network of friends and partners I acquired. Jen Firneno with the Center for Public Leadership has been a wonderful mentor and advocate for me. I am regularly in touch with Reynolds Fellows; I see them whenever I’m able and we exchange emails throughout the year. As I am now living in Washington, I look forward to connecting with Wayne and Catherine Reynolds on a more frequent basis. Given the impact they have had on my life and the opportunities they have enabled, I would be happy to assist them in any way I could be helpful.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 07/18/2013

leverenz1Zach Leverenz, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, CEO, EveryoneOn

I’m extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for the incredible experiences they afforded me as a 2009 Reynolds Fellow, both at Harvard and beyond. Today, I serve as the CEO of EveryoneOn, a national start-up social enterprise on a mission to eliminate the digital divide by providing free and low-cost Internet, computers, and training to the nearly 100 million unconnected Americans.

On March 21, 2013, EveryoneOn launched nationally with the following core services — based on what over a decade of research has defined as the primary barriers to technology adoption in the U.S.:

High speed home Internet service for $10/month:  Through partnerships with FreedomPop (Sprint & Clearwire), Cox, Comcast, Microsoft and others, we offer 70 -75 percent discounts on Internet service and computers to over 60 million qualified Americans. We are constantly searching for new partnerships that deliver the best quality product at the best value to our constituency. (See partner portfolio here).

Free basic digital literacy training: We partnered with over 21,000 libraries and nonprofits to provide free computer and Internet training across the country. As a call to action from the media campaign, we built a locator tool — accessible by phone, text, or web — that provides users with the closest free Internet and computer training to their area.

National media campaign on importance of digital literacy and being connected: We won a three-year, multi-media Ad Council campaign that targets unconnected Americans and communicates the value in being online for education, employment, and health care. Check out one of the TV PSAs below.

We’ve built a great deal of momentum to date, including coverage in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, among other local and national outlets. Regardless of race, age, or socio-economic status, every American deserves access to the tools  that will allow them to be successful. This core principle was born from my own experience growing up on the wrong side of the opportunity divide. It was my time as a Reynolds Fellow that provided me with the skills and resolve to act upon these principals. For that, I am forever grateful to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation!

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 07/17/2013

AG-VS_etVarun Sivaram, Class of 2012
Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University

Life after the Academy of Achievement Summit has been an incredible journey, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to Wayne and Catherine Reynolds for making this possible.

At the International Achievement Summit in October 2012, I noticed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa across the room at the State Department, and I beelined over to have lunch with him. Since 2005, the Mayor has tirelessly crusaded against climate change and expanded renewable energy in L.A. Since my Ph.D. research at Oxford is on the physics of solar panels, I was deeply inspired by the Mayor’s efforts.

Miraculously, after that conversation, the Mayor offered me a position on his senior staff to advise him on energy and water policy and to oversee the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the nation. I immediately took a leave of absence from Oxford and served in his Administration until he stepped down in July 2013.

Executing the Mayor’s vision, I strove to secure three aspects of his environmental legacy. First, L.A. signed contracts committing it to end consumption of coal power by 2025, the first large city to do so; second, LA inaugurated a Feed-in Tariff incentive program for solar power, which at 150 MegaWatts is the largest urban program in the nation; and third, L.A. settled a century-long dispute over the Owens Valley, which supplies water to Los Angeles.

Day-to-day, I staffed the Mayor at an exciting variety of events and organized his appearance with former Vice President Al Gore, who declared that L.A. had taken its place among “the five greatest cities in the world where combating climate change is concerned.” I researched policy alternatives, led negotiations, investigated organizational inefficiencies, and secured $40 million of funding for a Cleantech Incubator.

Today, I can confidently say that my future lies at the nexus of policy and technology. I believe our energy future requires decision makers with an intimate understanding of the technical challenges posed by replacing century-old power infrastructure. I’m thankful to the Mayor for trusting me with so much responsibility, and I’m indebted to the Academy of Achievement for enabling me to find my passion.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/17/2013

LeidermanDJM_500Jared Leiderman, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow,
Director of Finance & Administration, Juma Ventures

As a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, I was extremely fortunate to be part of the International Achievement Summit in 2009. It was an eye-opening experience, a whirlwind of inspiration from leaders in and out of government, across the political spectrum, all focused on bettering the world in their own way. In particular, a comment from General Colin Powell has stuck in my mind: “You’re here because you succeeded in the first third in your life, the third where you prepare. But now you need to succeed in the second and third parts, the ones where you do the work and give back.”

With that inspiration, I’ve been excited to “do the work” on the ground with Juma Ventures. Juma is a national nonprofit that helps youth from low-income backgrounds obtain a college education. We provide academic support and employ our youth, selling concessions at sports stadiums. The best social program is a good job, and youth are much more likely to succeed in college if they have built the responsibility and drive that comes from employment. Finally, we provide matched savings accounts to ease the financial burden of college, and our youth save thousands of dollars by the time they enter college. The mix of academic support, employment, and asset building allows our students to get through college, not just into it. Last year, our high school graduation rate was 100 percent and college persistence rate was 85 percent — far above their peers.

As the head of our back office, I’ve driven growth in new cities and states. In the last seven months, we’ve opened operations at the New Orleans Superdome and Arena, as well as at Seattle’s SAFECO field, Key Arena and CenturyLink Field. My team administers over 1,200 savings accounts, and we plan to transform those services into another social enterprise that employs our college youth. During this expansion, we’ve reduced our average cost per youth, increased our percent of income due to sales, and passed over $1,000,000 to our youth through wages and savings in 2012 alone.

During my years as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, I learned a great deal about using entrepreneurial models for social impact. I’m excited to say I think about these ideas daily, developing new and sustainable models to meet our social needs. I’m extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for the phenomenal experiences they offered me in Cambridge, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. Reading these updates has been humbling, and helps me recognize how fortunate we all are to have had these incredible experiences. In my personal life, I’ve also been wonderfully blessed. Soon after graduation in 2010, Emily and I got married; we are now blessed with a giggly, bright-eyed one-year-old girl, Hazel.

So next time you find yourself at a game for the Giants, A’s, Mariners, Saints, Chargers, 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks, or a whole bunch of others, buy some ice cream or coffee from Juma — and don’t forget to tip well!

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/17/2013

et_PeterBio-1Peter Bisanz, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, World Economic Forum

Thanks to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Center for Public Leadership, Peter Bisanz earned his Master’s of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009.

While studying at the Kennedy School, he completed a feature length documentary on the shared values of the world’s religions, Beyond Our Differences (www.beyondourdifferences.com).  He has sold this film to PBS and created a pilot educational program to support its release.

As an extension of this work, he carried out an independent study project with David Gergen at the Kennedy School, analyzing and interpreting U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world over the last 30 years, and its potential ramifications for the future.

He is now at work on a second documentary, Islam and the West: Creating Peace in Our Time.  The film will provide a platform for leading Islamic and Western voices to explore this complex relationship and promote a new spirit of understanding (www.entropyfilms.org/islam-the-west).  To date, he has filmed over 50 interviews for this film, with key leaders from all over the world.

During his time at the Center for Public Leadership Bisaz remained active as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, and continued his Participation in the Forum’s Global Agenda Councils.  In 2009 he was a member of the Global Agenda Council on Faith, and after graduation became a member of the Global Agenda Council on Values — where he created a series of films on Values in Business (www.entropyfilms.org/values-in-business).

Linked to his work with the Forum and the Kennedy School, after graduation he helped the Women and Public Policy Program create a film on the business case for closing the gender gaps (www.entropyfilms.org/harvard-gender-gap).

In 2012, he was invited to join the World Economic Forum and the Global Agenda Council as an Associate Director for Outreach and Communications.  He has produced the Survey on the Global Agenda (http://reports.weforum.org/global-agenda-survey-2012), and Global Agenda Outlook (http://reports.weforum.org/outlook-2013/), released at Davos in 2013.

He has since taken charge of the Communications Team for the Risk Response Network within the Forum and the launch of one of the Forum’s flagship reports (http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2012), also released at the 2012 meeting in Davos.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/15/2013

HSU_500Esther Hsu Wang, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Founding Partner, IDinsight

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation provided me with the opportunity to study at the Harvard Kennedy School, collaborate with lifelong friends, and engage with some of the most accomplished people of our time. I will always be thankful for these myriad opportunities. I loved being part of the Center for Public Leadership and was honored to join the unforgettable Academy of Achievement Summits in South Africa and Washington D.C.

Since graduating from Harvard in 2010, I shored up my private sector roots at Bain & Company, and launched IDinsight with three other Kennedy School classmates (Andrew Fraker, Neil Buddy Shah, and Paul Wang, who is now my husband). IDinsight’s vision is to improve millions of lives by transforming how the social sector innovates, learns, and improves. Our mission is to partner with our clients to generate and use rigorous evidence to improve their social impact. Depending on client needs, we help diagnose systems, design and test potential solutions, and operationalize those solutions found to be most impactful. We believe that client-centered, rigorous, and responsive evaluation is essential to help managers maximize program impact. I believe we are filling a gap in the social sector that spends hundreds of billions of dollars per year trying to fight the world’s intractable problems for the poor and disadvantaged.  Our clients include national governments, global foundations, NGOs and social businesses.

I have moved to Zambia (after several months establishing in Cambodia and India) and with my co-founders, are building IDinsight offices in Zambia, Uganda and India, plus activities in Cambodia and Kenya. We are continually learning from each of our projects — in water, sanitation, governance, health and agriculture — and refining our approach and our model. We’ve benefited from other networks such as the Echoing Green Foundation, but I believe the seeds of our work were sowed during our precious time at the Kennedy School. It’s been an exciting ride so far, full of lucky breaks and lessons learned. In a typical day, I can be negotiating car insurance for the office, or having a tête-à-tête with a director in the national government. Each day is a surprise, but such is the life of a young start-up… in the social sector… in a developing country.

As a Reynolds Fellow, I was inspired by the many social entrepreneurs who blazed trails before us, and my fellow classmates, who were constantly challenging each other to stick to our visions and make the world a better place. I still think fondly of the group of five Fellows with whom I met weekly, acting as sounding boards and advisers, to push each others’ ideas forward. Several of my Reynolds classmates sit on IDinsight’s Board of Directors (Arun Gupta and Jacob Donnelly) and we are honored to have them with us. A special “shout out” to my friends David Noah and Keren Raz, whom I met at the Achievement Summit in South Africa, and who have provided valuable legal counsel for IDinsight.  Thanks to the Reynolds Foundation and all the amazing people I’ve met on this journey.  Please give me a shout if you pass through Zambia!

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/14/2013

Ward_300Kelly Ward, Class of 2006
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Executive Director, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

It is unbelievable how quickly time goes by! It seems like just yesterday I was at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, attending seminars and workshops with the other Reynolds Fellows. That “yesterday” was actually more than seven years ago, when I was honored as one of the inaugural recipients of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship.

There are very few moments in life when a new, unexpected opportunity sets you on a completely different course. For me, receiving the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship was one of those moments. The Fellowship introduced me to the world of social entrepreneurship and the impact we can have when we foster and invest in innovative, high-impact solutions. It taught me that there are fantastic solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, and that finding, developing and scaling these solutions is the key to large-scale change.

During my Fellowship and my time at the Kennedy School, I focused on the connection between public policy, social innovation and growth capital. Specifically, how can we leverage government funding as growth capital for social entrepreneurs? Can government investment bring social innovation to scale instead of stifling creative solutions? These were new and intriguing questions at the time, and the Reynolds Fellowship and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership were integrally involved in the development of these new ideas.

It was through the Reynolds Fellowship that I met New Profit, a top-notch venture philanthropy fund in Cambridge. I worked with them on my graduate thesis, and was exposed to a plethora of inspiring entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. They were on the frontlines of redesigning government funding to work for social entrepreneurs — providing matching funds instead of grants, growth capital instead of piecemeal investments. It was exciting to be a part of it.

When I graduated from the Kennedy School, I managed a congressional campaign and then ran a small advocacy nonprofit in Arizona, but I was drawn back to New Profit to help bring the ideas they were developing to fruition. I moved back to Boston to head up their America Forward effort, a national coalition of nonprofits working to develop and push a policy agenda with the 2008 presidential candidates. We met with every major presidential candidate, and our ideas were received with great interest. Barack Obama’s campaign, in particular, embraced the notion of social entrepreneurship, and once he was elected, many of our ideas were incorporated into the “Serve America Act,” the most bipartisan piece of legislation to pass during President Obama’s first 100 days in office. It was so inspiring to see our new President surrounded by the country’s leading social innovators, committed to investing in their work as part of his vision for improving the country.

I am now back in the political world, running a special election Senate campaign in Massachusetts. For the last three years I have served as Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C. Our job is to elect Democrats to Congress. Our goal is a Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives. At same time, ,

One of the most critical elements of the Reynolds Fellowship was leadership development. In addition to fostering the innovative ideas of the Fellows, the Reynolds Fellowship also invested deeply in our overall development as leaders. While my current job is more political than entrepreneurial, I use the lessons I learned as a Reynolds Fellow every single day.

When I think back about the overall experience, especially attending the 2006 International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles, it seems so surreal — I have to remind myself that it actually happened! I’m so grateful for the opportunity and so excited for the new people who get to share in the experience.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/14/2013

bardhan300Sonny Bardhan,
Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship provided me with the incredible opportunity to earn my Master in Public Administration at Harvard, specializing in International Development. The fellowship provided weekly co-curricular events, providing an excellent forum for the fellows to exchange ideas and meet with inspirational leaders. This generosity of Catherine and Wayne Reynolds was instrumental in completing my transition from the private sector to the world of international development.

Since graduating from Harvard, I have been working at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), based in London. CIFF is an independent, philanthropic organization that aims to demonstrably improve the lives of children in developing countries by achieving large-scale, sustainable impact.

The approach used throughout is highly analytical. The latest development research is used to help identify where the principal bottlenecks and highest impact opportunities exist in the sectors of interest for the foundation.  Extensive due diligence is conducted on high potential opportunities prior to determining whether to make an investment, which would generally be in the form of grants of several million dollars over multiple years. Finally, an engaged management approach is used over the course of the multi-year investment, so that plans are adapted and improved, based on regularly measured performance data. While the investments do not seek financial returns, they are rigorously measured on a handful of key parameters, including social impact and cost-effective use of philanthropic dollars.

My role as an Investment Manager is to develop strategy for the foundation to best meet its goals, and to identify, design and advance specific opportunities for it to deploy its resources. Once I have identified an opportunity with good potential, I lead a multi-disciplinary team over several months to develop and conduct due diligence for the concept. If we believe the fully developed proposal is promising, I make the case to the Board of CIFF to seek final approval.

My role at CIFF has led me to work in India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique, in sectors including nutrition, water, and hygiene, and to form partnerships with the governments of these developing countries, as well members of the private sector, academia and NGOs, and with other donors. The work has been diverse, interesting and often very challenging. Recent investments have included a large-scale hygiene program to improve hand-washing behavior in rural India, and funding systematic research to develop lower cost formulations of products used to treat and prevent malnutrition. Next stop: Ethiopia!

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/13/2013

Goldstein_500Andrew Goldstein, M.D., Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow,
Founder, Frontline Health Worker Network

After finishing my Reynolds Fellowship year I returned to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine to finish my medical school training.  I continued my work with Tiyatien Health, spending two months in Zwedru, Liberia working on strategic planning, organizational process improvement, and the planning and design stages of a brand new community health worker program to serve “last mile” villages with no access to the existing health infrastructure. This Frontline Health Worker (FHW) program was initiated in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, among others. I continued working for Tiyatien Health after my return to the United States by recruiting and managing a team to write the first draft training curriculum for the FHW program.

I have learned that many similar organizations and governments find the concept of FHWs appealing, but have been left to create programs de novo, as the field is underdeveloped and fragmented. With this in mind, I founded the FHW Network (www.fhwnetwork.org), a non-profit start up that crowdsources knowledge of existing FHW programs, research, and tools; and advances the sector by easing communication and collective action.

I have now finished my intern year of internal medicine training at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, with an emphasis on primary care and general internal medicine. While here, I have focused on knowledge management and workflow improvement within our program. I have entered my fifth year as a board member of Princeton AlumniCorps, an alumni-driven effort to engage our alumni community in public interest work.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/12/2013

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Ellyn Goldberg, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Brown University,
United Providence!

My time as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education during the 2008-2009 academic year had a profound impact on the trajectory of my life and career. I have had the opportunity to apply what I learned about social entrepreneurship to diverse settings: public education, faith-based community outreach, and higher education. I have the utmost gratitude to Catherine and Wayne Reynolds for this incredible opportunity; I am not the same person I was before.

After graduation, I held fast to my belief that access to a quality education is the nation’s most important social justice issue. I moved to Providence, Rhode Island to accept a newly-created position as a Quantitative Reasoning Specialist at the MET, a state-funded public school district that focuses on individualized learning to empower students. As one of six pioneers of the “QR” Team at the MET, I was able to help define what the position would entail. In addition to developing more hands-on look and feel for mathematics instruction, I created and implemented the “Adopt-a-Mathlete” program, mobilizing the entire school community to supporting students to do their best on the high-stakes exam that will impact their future. It worked; the students did better than ever before in the history of the MET and I received the Raytheon MathMovesU Math Hero Award in the fall of 2011. President Obama praised the MET in a speech that year urging schools to “…follow the example of places like The MET Center in Rhode Island, that give students that individual attention while also preparing them through real-world, hands-on training for the possibility of succeeding in a career.”

In addition to applying my knowledge of entrepreneurship to help students, I have had the opportunity to work with teachers as well. In 2010, I collaborated with a team at the Education Development Center in Waltham, Massachusetts , to author a course entitled “Developing Math Practices in Algebra for Grades 4 – 10,” which focuses on helping teachers to incorporate the eight Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice into their teaching. This course is the first of its kind in the nation; in addition to working on its development, I have facilitated the course several times, with groups of teachers and administrators throughout Massachusetts.

In 2011, I felt a calling to leave my full-time position and work for a year as an “urban missionary,” serving my local church in a role I designed with my Pastor, developing ministries and outreach to the Providence community. Our work had four focuses, summed up by the acronym ABCD: Alvarez High School (a low-performing public school near our church), the Burmese refugee community, the local Community Center, and the Downtown homeless population. I am most proud of a weekly outreach we set up in conjunction with a homeless shelter; a group of us traveled to the shelter every Friday night to meet with residents, get to know them, and try to meet their needs in whatever ways we could. The year culminated with a week-long mission trip to an orphanage in Haiti.

After this missionary year, I realized I could best serve the community by utilizing my background and skills in education. I currently serve in two capacities: as Adjunct Lecturer in Education at Brown University and Director of Secondary Mathematics Education for Brown Summer High School; and as the Senior Mathematics Specialist for United Providence!, a start-up non-profit organization designed to manage the turnaround process in three of Providence’s lowest-performing schools. In all of these roles I am bringing to bear my experience as a Reynolds Fellow. This is the first time in its 45-year existence that Brown Summer High School will have a mathematics component! As one of six founding members of the UP! team, I have applied first-hand some of the “lessons learned” by social entrepreneurs I met during the fellowship year. UP! hopes to serve as a national model for collaboration between labor and management. Interestingly, one of our schools is Alvarez, the school we focused on during my year as an urban missionary. I could not be more grateful for my time as a Reynolds Foundation Fellow. My life has been quite a journey, and I look forward to many more adventures in leadership and entrepreneurship thanks to the generosity of Catherine and Wayne Reynolds.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/12/2013

catone300Keith Catone, Class of 2006
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University

My year as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2005-06 was an important turning point in my professional, academic, and activist career.  Not only was I afforded the opportunity to connect with many amazing people through the fellowship program, I was also able to take much needed time and space away from the incredibly busy life of a public school teacher to think about how best to continue my efforts to effect social justice in the world. Since 2006, I have continued my academic journey as a doctoral student in education at Harvard. In October, I plan to submit my dissertation, exploring the lives, political trajectories, activism, and teaching practices of four teachers in New York City. In addition to my doctoral studies, I have been busy professionally, and continue to be committed to the education justice community.

In 2008, I joined the advisory board for the Education for Liberation Network (EdLib), and have served as a leader and organizer for the Free Minds Free People (FMFP) conference since 2009.  EdLib is a national coalition of educators, activists, researchers, students, and parents who believe a good education should teach people — particularly low-income youth and youth of color — how to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face.  FMFP occurs every other year as a national conference, gathering hundreds of EdLib network members and allies to build a movement promoting education as a tool for liberation. Serving as one of the co-leaders of the host committee for the 2011 FMFP conference in Providence, Rhode Island was an amazing and humbling experience, as I was able to meet and connect with people doing liberatory education work from all around the United States.  We continue to grow as a movement and a community, and are looking forward to this year’s FMFP conference in Chicago.

In addition, I currently work as a Principal Associate for Community Organizing and Engagement at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) at Brown University.  I manage AISR’s technical assistance and capacity building support for community organizing and engagement in the New England/Northeast region. We support community-based organizations to build power and relationships by organizing parents, youth, and other community leaders, with the goal of ensuring that public schools are held accountable to serving communities’ best interests.  Since joining AISR in 2011, I have worked directly with youth and parent organizations in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania. I continue to be inspired by the people I meet through my work, and by their vision, energy, and hope for a more just and equitable education system.  I experienced similar feelings of inspiration while listening to speakers at the Academy of Achievement in 2006.

While those invited to speak at the Academy had accomplished work with a much higher profile than the work of those with whom I interact in my work, the connective tissue between these experiences is the human drive for goodness and justice that I have the privilege of witnessing on a regular basis. Whether learning from Archbishop Desmond Tutu (and his moves on the Academy dance floor!), being inspired by the philanthropic spirit of George Lucas, or more recently, gaining energy from the passionate activism of teenagers in Philadelphia who are fighting for their public schools, my own life experiences have kept me refreshed and renewed at every turn.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 06/03/2013

family-pic-with-hJenny DuClos, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Harvard University

In 2008-2009 I was a recipient of a Catherine Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). I applied for the Fellowship after spending two years in post-Katrina New Orleans, where I served as the Assistant Clinical Director of the largest school-based mental health initiative for children and families affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was an honor to work in a community so steeped in cultural pride, with such resilience and determination to put back the pieces after long-term displacement, loss and grief. Catherine and Wayne Reynolds’ generous gift allowed me to further study the effects of PTSD, chronic stress, and poverty on the development of children and their learning. While at Harvard, I focused on learning to mitigate the effects of stress and trauma on children and adolescents. While in my Master’s program I worked as an infant mental health clinician, and as a parent educator for families who had lost custody of their children due to abuse and neglect.

After graduating form HGSE, my husband Justin and I spent the summer in rural South Africa, rehabilitating a dilapidated preschool building, outfitting it with books and educational supplies, and training early childhood educators to lead Project Joy (a play therapy intervention). The needs of this community were made known to us by our friend and fellow Reynolds alumnus Craig Paxton. A number of children in that particular village in the Eastern Cape had lost parents and loved ones to HIV-AIDS. We have since raised funds to help outfit a second preschool in a neighboring village.

Upon returning to Boston, I worked as a School Therapist and for three years as the Director of Community and Family Engagement at Uncommon Schools. Uncommon is  a charter management organization devoted to closing the achievement gap and making college admission and graduation a reality for low income students. For the past two years, we have also served as Officers, Resident Tutors, and Public Service Advisers at Harvard College. After our son Haven was born in February of 2012, I took some time to savor his first year while continuing to work as a counselor, and helping my husband establish a law practice (jduclos.com) that concentrates on the environment, new media and social justice.

The friendships we formed, and the doors of opportunity that opened because of the Reynolds Fellowship are priceless. Our family will continue to keep social entrepreneurship at the core of our work, and we look forward to what the years ahead will bring. We promise to keep in touch!

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

Lubell---HeadshotDavid Lubell, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Founder and Executive Director, Welcoming America

Since attending the 2009 International Achievement Summit, I have graduated with an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, where I was a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. I am now Executive Director of Welcoming America, a national, grassroots-driven organization I founded, that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and native-born Americans. We are unlocking the full potential of communities by helping them understand how and why the U.S. can find pride in upholding its welcoming traditions, at the community and individual level.

Through our work we are engaging nontraditional allies and supporters including local governments, embassies, businesses, faith leaders, law enforcement officials and prominent civic leaders to address the fears of U.S. born residents regarding the country’s fastest immigration growth rates since the early 1900s.

Welcoming America was born out of my time as a Reynolds Foundation Fellow. With the help of other Reynolds Fellows, I wrote the Welcoming America business plan for the Harvard Business Plan Competition. As it turned out, we had too much money to win the HBS prize, but the work was not for naught — the plan landed Welcoming America its first major funder.

At Welcoming America we recognize that change is never easy — not for immigrants, and not for communities asked to welcome newcomers whose language and culture they may not understand. I established Welcoming America to build a robust “receiving communities” movement and create an enabling environment for more people and institutions to recognize the role everyone must play in furthering the integration of recent immigrants in the fabric of the United States. With affiliates in 21 states across the country, we are facilitating open dialogue — and counteracting the biased, negative messages that community members may hear about their new neighbors — by disseminating factual, positive messages through group gatherings and all forms of media, thus building mutual respect and understanding. These efforts have been proven to cause a positive shift in the perceptions of residents towards immigrants.

Together, we are sharing a simple message, “Immigrants make us stronger.”

From my new home in Atlanta, Georgia, where I live with my wife and two young sons, I can see more than ever that a global perspective is an empowering perspective. I am grateful to the Reynolds Foundation for giving me the leadership and entrepreneurial preparation to gain this insight, and to guide others into a welcoming way of enriching our communities. I’m all the better for the experience.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

kimble375Jessica Lin Kimble,
Class of 2008
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow,
The World Bank

At the 2007 Academy of Achievement in Washington D.C., I was able to meet and interact with current and future leaders of the arts, industry, technology and government. I never imagined that so many of my role models would be so accessible. It was during the summit, while interacting with Bishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Suzan-Lori Parks and others, that I realized how much of an effect each one of us can potentially have on society.

I have been committed throughout my career to improving the plight of the impoverished, particularly in the Caribbean, through technological development. I started a number of small firms in consulting and private equity prior to graduate school, but realized during the Summit that while I could probably build my own business to a certain size, I had the opportunity to effect change through policy at a larger organization. After graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School, I joined the World Bank to incubate new energy technologies Although I have remained committed to social entrepreneurship, I chose to work within a larger organization to broaden my potential impact.

Since 2007, I have supported technology innovation globally, and specifically within the Caribbean region, through funding, program development and policy change. I’ve also conducted research which quantifies the financial benefit of socially responsible investing and the impact of climate change on energy systems.

I am grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for their generosity and support of my education. I am thankful for the opportunities afforded through the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship and remain impressed with the accomplishments of my fellows and peers from the Academy of Achievement. They have changed my view of the world and my vision for my future. As I look into the eyes of my six-month-old son, I am also grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for their time and effort, dedicated to cultivating this international cohort of like-minded peers who are committed to making a better future for the next generation.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

Barnes2_HarvardJamaal Barnes, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Assistant Director of Admissions, Harvard Graduate School of Education

It has been nearly two years since my time as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. My time as a fellow was a life-enhancing experience and provided me with an opportunity to enlarge my network of friends and thought-partners.

After graduating as a Fellow with an Ed.M. in Prevention Science from Harvard, I continued my work with the eastern Massachusetts-based youth development nonprofit Crossroads for Kids. There, I provided strategic consulting in the development of scalable assessment and evaluation strategies for the Boston-based team, as well as for teams in Austin, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

Following my passion for access and equity in education, I made the transition to graduate school enrollment in 2012. I currently serve as an Assistant Director of Admissions and Manager of Multicultural Recruitment at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and as a Proctor of Harvard College.

In my personal time, I proudly support the work of the Maryland-based nonprofit Touchstones Discussion Project, as a member of its board of trustees, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, as a member of its Alumni Advisory Board.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

paxton-with-teacherCraig Paxton, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow,
Executive Director, Axium Education

My experiences at Harvard as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow and Fulbright Scholar profoundly shaped my thinking about education and social change, and continue to influence the way I approach the complex challenges facing South Africa’s education system.

In my final semester as a Reynolds Fellow, my wife and I launched Axium Education, a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the quality of schooling in rural South Africa. We are based in Zithulele Village in the beautiful Eastern Cape Province and work with around 30 schools in the surrounding area. The region’s educational outcomes are among the worst in the country. Only a handful of students graduate from high school with any chance of pursing higher education, so it’s a useful place to be if we hope to learn anything about wider scale improvements. We use a three-tiered approach to school change, working with school leaders, with science, English and math teachers, and with high-potential students in Grades 7 – 12. We’re also a pilot site for a number of technology projects, including the Khan Academy and MiXit.

In 2012 I was honoured to be included in the Mail & Guardian’s annual list of “200 Young South Africans.” I’m currently midway through a Ph.D. dissertation examining rural school improvement, and I’m hoping this will add to the growing national conversation around the equity and quality of South Africa’s schools.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

shinAndrew Shin, Class of 2008
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship program at Harvard University brought together dozens of graduate students with diverse experiences, united by a passion to improve the lives of our communities here and abroad.  Through the Fellowship, I was able to share my personal commitment to improve our nation’s health care system, so that the most vulnerable can have a high quality and affordable system to rely on when they need it most.

More importantly, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship was an incredible opportunity to learn from current and past fellows and mentors who believed that for every problem, an innovative solution was possible.  These solutions often required synthesizing perspectives and methods across disciplines, ranging from the secondary education field, business, government and policy, to public health.

With this arsenal of experiences and perspectives, I sought appointment as a Congressional Fellow and was assigned to the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.  Working with one of the main committees with jurisdiction over health care in the U.S., I had the opportunity to help write national health reform legislation.

Afterwards, I came to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, in the Department of Health and Human Services.  This center was created by the new legislation to identify, test, and eventually scale health care innovations that improve quality, while also lowering costs to ensure a sustainable system for generations to come.

As Director of Stakeholder Engagement, I am tasked with building coalitions among clinicians, hospitals, technology entrepreneurs, employers, patient groups and others, to on find private-public solutions to our greatest health system challenges.   Armed with $10 billion in funding over the next decade, and a unique authority to rapidly scale successful innovations, the opportunity has never been greater for disruptive innovators to create a safer, more equitable, and sustainable American health system.

The perspective I’ve gained from my time with the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship has become a guiding principle of achieving social good through a diversity of means.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/30/2013

shepardRyan Shepard, Class of 2011
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Office of the Mayor of Atlanta

In the Spring of 2010, while I was enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Education I was selected as a Reynolds Fellow at the Harvard Center for Public Leadership.

To my great good fortune, my Reynolds Fellowship year offered exposure to issues that directly impact education, and to many great leaders who work tirelessly for progress. Among the most formative experiences during my fellowship year was a sponsored excursion to the Mississippi Delta region. Our group saw firsthand the confluence of challenges in economic, healthcare and education outcomes that are largely rooted in historic inequality. As we met citizens and leaders in the area, we also witnessed the possibilities to transform a community that is courageous enough to rally around faith, collaboration, and the pursuit of lofty ideals.

After completing my Ed.M, in 2011, I joined McKinsey & Co. as a management consultant in their Atlanta office. In February of 2013, I joined the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as an internal consultant and Senior Project Officer with the FOR Atlanta team. My team focuses on initiatives that promote the Mayor’s priorities of youth development, fiscal stability, public safety, customer service, infrastructure, and economic development. We aim to influence the Mayor’s agenda by providing results that are informed by robust analytics across city departments, and driven by collaboration between stakeholder groups.

The relationships and experiences that I gained during my time as a Reynolds Fellow are indeed priceless. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and look forward to furthering the great legacy of service that Catherine and Wayne Reynolds so generously celebrate.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

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Bina Valsangkar, M.D., MPH, Class of 2008
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Community Empowerment Lab

I was fortunate to be the recipient of a Reynolds Foundation Fellowship while pursuing a Master’s at The Harvard School of Public Health in 2007-2008. The fellowship came at a crucial time in my career development. I became a fellow three years after founding and developing a public health nonprofit organization during my medical education. The organization, The Quito Project, works in collaboration with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health and local public school systems to develop, test, and scale programs in health and education for vulnerable populations. Although my colleagues, professors and mentors were always extremely supportive of my work in Ecuador, my passions fell outside the mainstream of medical education, and I felt a sense of relief and exhilaration to be surrounded by fellow social entrepreneurs as a Reynolds Fellow. For a student of medicine and public health approaching graduation, this feeling was invaluable and gave me the strength and courage to continue pursuing my passions.

Since graduation from Harvard and the University of Michigan Medical School, I completed pediatrics residency training at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where I had the opportunity to gain intensive training in general pediatrics, and continue to pursue my work with The Quito Project, which continues to grow and make an impact in under fresh leadership.

Immediately after completing residency training and marrying my husband Nicolas, we moved to India, where we both now work for a public health start-up called Community Empowerment Lab.  Our lab is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where one in ten newborn deaths in the world takes place.  I joined as a research scientist and project manager, helping lead a scale-up of essential newborn care to a population of 75 million. My job requires merging scientifically proven essential newborn care practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding, umbilical cord care, and skin-to-skin care, with a cultural approach to relevant rural Uttar Pradesh. This experience has been tremendously challenging and rewarding.  I also serve as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University, which gives me the opportunity to mentor students and trainees interested in global health, and create a supportive, like-minded environment, similar to the one that the Reynolds Foundation provided me.

I am grateful to the Reynolds Foundation for giving me the courage to pursue a less-traveled career path for medical doctors.  It strengthened and validated professional inclinations that I had felt early in my education and training, and has allowed me to use my skills for the greater social good.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

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Christina Lagos Triantaphyllis, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, The Bridgespan Group

While a graduate student at the Harvard School of Public Health, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Academy of Achievement’s 2010 Summit in Washington, D.C. This meaningful experience renewed my interest in public service, and in the intersection between political processes and social enterprise. I am deeply grateful to Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, whose generosity and dedication to Academy of Achievement program participants has planted the seeds of potential social change in each of us.

Since my participation in the Reynolds Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, I have had the opportunity to advise pioneering social sector organizations as a consultant with the Bridgespan Group. I was first drawn to Bridgespan when its co-founder, Jeff Bradach, spoke to the Reynolds group about the interesting challenges facing social entrepreneurs and the organizations they lead.

Applying best practices from the for-profit sector, I have worked with multi-million dollar foundations, new philanthropists, direct-service providers, and international NGOs to address society’s most pressing issues in global development, public health, and youth development. In the process, I have recognized the importance of a broader problem. Government and other funders fail to focus on high-return investments in proven social interventions that disrupt intergenerational cycles of poverty. This issue is one that I hope to address throughout my career.

In the meantime, the non-profit I co-founded continues to grow and flourish. PAIR (Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees), which focuses on the educational advancement of refugee youth, now serves over 300 students. A Reynolds Fellowship trip to the Rio Grande Valley helped to broaden and deepen my familiarity with issues affecting both immigrants and refugees in the United States, and the skills I have developed at Bridgespan have enhanced my contributions as a PAIR board member in a variety of ways.

In reflecting on my time since the Reynolds Fellowship, I am reminded of a grounding belief I developed in those formative two years that remains fundamental to my personal theory of change: that those of us who have been blessed with certain opportunities, circumstances, and experiences are uniquely positioned to address important societal problems. The Reynolds experience has set me on a path of applying results-oriented approaches to social challenges —one that I hope continues to intersect with the inspiring work of other Reynolds Fellows and Academy alumni.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

diaz_IMG_1593 Illac Angelo Diaz, Class of 2008
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Liter of Light

My thanks go to Wayne and Catherine Reynolds for the life-changing chance to study at the Kennedy School. Their support gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people and opened my eyes to so many possibilities. These are gifts that I try to pass on to as many people as possible.

Illac Angelo Diaz participated in the 2008 International Achievement Summit in Hawaii. At the time, Illac’s interest lay in an architectural response to climate change in developing countries, where the poorest sectors of society are most at risk, and least able to adapt to extreme weather events.

During his time at the Harvard Kennedy School, Diaz initiated the global competition Design Against the Elements, asking architects to design a safer habitat for at-risk communities. This initiative has led to almost 300 designs that can serve as a basis for architects to study and improve when they plan in this critical area.

He has gone on to design alternative schools and clinics around the ASEAN Region, using alternative materials such as stabilized soil (adobe), bamboo, plastic crates and recycled plastic bottles, cooperating with communities to lower building costs. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76b4LHH3b2I). He recently produced award winning designs at the Shanghai Biennale and in the Philippines.diaz_971824_564831916890978_1863789929_n

In his native Philippines, he created the Liter of Light program, the cheapest imaginable way to harness the power of the sun to light the homes of the world’s poorest communities.  In communities where electricity is unavailable or unaffordable, a recycled plastic soda bottle, filled with water and 10 milliliters of bleach, can be installed in the roof of a dark home, as a makeshift skylight. The bleach-filled bottle diffuses light throughout the room — equivalent to that of a 55-watt electric bulb — without electricity. The money saved on electricity or hazardous kerosene lamps enables most participants to purchase a solar lamp to provide an additional eight hours of light after sunset. These systems can be built with locally sourced materials, and distributed by grassroots entrepreneurs, building skills, livelihoods, and a green economy in underdeveloped communities without relying on imported, patented, expensive solar technology.

Community Built Solar Bottle Light : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGOS4t_mds0

Diaz’s Liter of Light won the 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize.

The MyShelter Foundation has now brought the Liter of Light program to 15 countries.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

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Amanda Epstein Devercelli, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, The World Bank

The 2010 Academy of Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C. was an incredible end to the year I spent as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, being inspired by colleagues and friends, learning and thinking about what I truly wanted to do with my life. Hearing from so many creative, committed and effective social entrepreneurs and public servants in only two days inspired me to think differently about making an impact. Although my husband and I carry out our work on two continents, we have found a way to make our careers work for our growing family. We spend most of the year in Lima, Peru, with frequent travel to Washington, D.C. and various countries in Africa. We’re both doing work we love and believe in, and are enjoying life. Our son is nearly two years old and Baby Devercelli number two is due in December!

I have been working in the education sector at the World Bank for the last three years. In November, I accepted a new assignment, coordinating the Bank’s Early Childhood Development activities in Africa through an initiative called the Early Learning Partnership. The returns on every dollar invested in young children in low and middle-income countries are estimated to be between $7 and $16 — yet most countries significantly underinvest in their youngest citizens. Research tells us that if we improve development opportunities for children in their early years, we can improve their academic performance and reduce drop-out rates.  By increasing the amount of time they spend in school we can stimulate the formation of critical thinking skills that employers are looking for, and enable more women to enter the workforce if they choose.  Through the Early Learning Partnership, I’ll be leading a team to promote early learning opportunities for young children, and strategies to engage families, communities and the private sector through public-private partnerships and better use of public resources.

The Reynolds Fellowship not only propelled my career, but my husband’s also. He attended many of the Fellowship and Center for Public Leadership events. In March 2011, he launched an after-school program called Pasala! (Pass It On), which combines soccer instruction with literacy development activities for children. Two-thirds of all 15 year-olds in Peru can’t read well enough to understand the meaning of a basic sentence. Pasala! is a social enterprise designed to get kids excited about reading and writing, and improve their reading comprehension using a curriculum built entirely around sports.

I’m grateful to still keep in touch with Reynolds Fellows who are all over the world doing incredible things. If there are Academy of Achievement alumni events planned for the future, please sign me up!

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

casey300Catherine Casey Nanda, Class of 2006
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow,
Director of Global Expansion and Country Operations, Acumen

I currently direct global expansion at Acumen — a nonprofit that raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. To date, we have invested $83 million in 73 companies. I’m responsible for setting strategy, building teams, fundraising and investing in new regions. I’m also responsible for leading operational excellence across Acumen’s 5 regional offices in Kenya, Ghana, India, Pakistan and Colombia.

Most recently I launched Acumen’s West Africa office, based in Accra, where I built regional operations from scratch, established an investment pipeline, and made our first three investments. Today, I’m focused on replicating that success in new regions, with an immediate focus on Latin America and Southeast Asia.  I also serve as a Board Member of GADCO, an African food production company.

I first met with Acumen on a Reynolds Fellowship visit to social enterprises in New York. I’m so grateful for that connection, and for all the ways the Fellowship experience continues to shape my life — including by introducing me to some of my closest mentors, colleagues and friends. The Academy inspired me to be more audacious and deepen my commitment to public service, all while having a lot of fun. I’ll never forget Robin Williams rapping alongside Sheryl Crow, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu jumping up to dance (truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment!) I look forward to growing with — and contributing to — this community in years to come.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

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Erika Strand, Class of 2006
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Chief of Social Policy, UNICEF Mexico

I continue to be incredibly grateful to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation for supporting my Master’s degree in international development at the Harvard Kennedy School, and for including me in the 2006 Academy of Achievement. To this day, I will meet people who at some point in time attended the Academy as well, and it has been nice to have something unique in common with amazing people around the world to break the ice.

Immediately after graduating, I moved to Madagascar to manage a project for the World Bank, providing management tools to improve the use of resources and planning at all levels of the educational system. I then returned to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) headquarters to develop new policy advocacy tools for situations requiring policy advice from UNICEF, such as the impact of the food prices crisis on children and the importance of child-friendly social protection.

For the past three years I have worked as the Chief of Social Policy at UNICEF Mexico.  We urge the government to adopt social programs that target children living in extreme poverty, and advocate for more transparency in public spending on children.  Working with the Ministry of Finance at the federal level, I led a strategy to catalogue spending on children as part of the federal budget for the first time.  This budget was approved by Mexico’s Congress in 2011.

While some may think that working in a bureaucracy such as a UN agency — and in partnership with so large an institution as the Mexican federal government — would not provide conditions for innovation, I disagree. Changes at this level may be harder to realize than within a smaller organization, but when we are able to make an improvement in federal programs that reach millions of families, as is the case in Mexico, the impact is incomparable. I hope to be given more and more responsibility within UNICEF in the years to come, so that I can realize results of increasing importance in the lives of children

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/29/2013

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Laura Bacon, Class  of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Omidyar Network

Thanks to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, Laura Bacon earned her Master’s of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009.  While studying at the Kennedy School, she served as an advisor to Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Development and to the Liberian Women’s Legislative Caucus.

After graduation, Laura was appointed by President Obama to serve as a White House Fellow for 2009-2010. Assigned the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Laura helped design and launch a Women and Clean Energy initiative that has since expanded into an international program. She also designed a multi-stakeholder cyber security summit, prepared policy memoranda, presentations, and briefing documents for DOE’s leadership team, and coordinated the Operations Management Council, a decision-making forum for DOE’s top leadership.

After the White House Fellowship, Laura became the Associate Director of Innovations for Successful Societies, a research program at Princeton University. In this capacity, she helped develop a strategic plan and multi-year agenda for the program’s activities, and directed the production of nearly 80 case studies on public sector reform in challenging contexts.  At this writing, Laura is moving to London, England to serve as Policy Principal on the Omidyar Network‘s Government Transparency team.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/24/2013

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Diane Geng, Class of 2007
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Rural China Education Foundation, NYU Shanghai

My passion is improving the quality of education for children in rural China. As a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in China, I co-founded the Rural China Education Foundation (RCEF), with Wei Ji Ma and Sara Lam, two overseas Chinese who, like me, have roots in rural China. Our mission is to promote education that helps students develop the analytical thinking skills, self-confidence, and empathy that can prepare them to solve problems in their own lives and in the communities to which they belong.

I am grateful for the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship that made it possible for me to obtain a master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While still a Reynolds Fellow, I was named a 2007 Echoing Green Fellow to launch RCEF’s first full-time programs in China. Upon graduation from Harvard, I moved to a village in northern China and worked there for three years, helping to co-manage an experimental rural elementary school and set up professional development programs for teachers. Today, RCEF is sharing our experiences, teaching methods and curriculum with teachers, schools and NGOs across China.

In addition, I have expanded my efforts in education reform to higher education — specifically NYU Shanghai, a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences research university in the heart of Shanghai, the first Sino-American degree-granting liberal arts college in China.

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Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/24/2013

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Steven Ballantyne,  Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Program Director, Project Realize

First, I would like to thank Wayne and Catherine Reynolds for their generous support, which allowed me to pursue an MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Since graduating, I have been able to combine my for-profit and not-for-profit interests in a unique way. I manage a program called Project Realize, funded by Vista Equity Partners founder, Robert Smith.  We help companies grow to the next level by implementing proprietary business intelligence systems and standards of operations.  In a way, we are proving that businesses need human capital more than financial capital.  It’s a different way of thinking, and of giving back. We are “teaching a man how to fish,” and the long-term impact is indefinite.

When selecting companies to adopt, apart from looking for visionaries, we look for community-minded management.  We aim to transform the business, and in turn, the surrounding community.  By helping the business grow, we are building the community, through job growth and an increased tax base.  As they grow, the businesses we help are able to increase their involvement in community programs.  In partnership with the Chicago-based chemical manufacturer Cedar Concepts, Project Realize has the ability to continually grow, and to increase its impact on the community year after year.

I love my job, and Robert Smith has big plans for the future.  I will make sure to keep you abreast as we grow.

Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/22/2013

dunigan_250Nathaniel Dunigan, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Founder of AidChild

My experience as a Reynolds Fellow and as an alumnus of the Academy of Achievement continues to inform my practice and my scholarship in significant ways.  The rich engagement with presenters and colleagues at the International Achievement Summit provided me with the tools I needed to elevate my own leadership capacities.

During our dinner at the Supreme Court, I have a vivid memory of Justice Sotomayor looking into the eyes of each of us at my table, and saying, “Stay connected with the people at this table.  These relationships are what will guide your success for years and years to come.”  I believe that to be true, and am especially grateful for this fact.  (For another Academy memory, see a recent blog post here: http://nathanieldunigan.com/?p=1100.)

During the nine years prior to my tenure as a Reynolds Fellow, I lived in Uganda, East Africa where I founded AidChild, the first organization in the country (and among the first in the world) to provide free antiretroviral therapy to children living with HIV/AIDS.  The organization currently earns about 70 percent of its budget through businesses I created under our corporate label in Uganda.  Last year, in partnership with celebrity chef Brian Malarkey, we opened yet another business, a restaurant and lounge called Olubugo.

I am currently the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, University of San Diego.  My Ph.D. research has taken me around the world as I work with a team to create learning-and-teaching training modules for leaders in the affordable private education sectors of the emerging world.  (The photo at right was taken during classroom observations in Ghana.)  My dissertation is focused on the social construction of masculinities across three generations of Ugandan men.  It is my intention to combine my years of on-the-ground experience, insights gained at the Academy of Achievement, and my emerging scholarship to effecting change across Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2012, I also had the honor of being named a Cordes Foundation Fellow at the Opportunity Collaboration in Ixtapa, Mexico.

I am enormously grateful for the experiences provided by the Academy of Achievement, and I look forward to one day being in a position to offer something back.  There is so much to do.  Onward!

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