Daniel Epstein, Co-founder and Director, Girl Effect Accelerator and Co-founder, Unreasonable Group
Daniel’s life has been shaped by a fundamental belief that entrepreneurship is the answer to nearly all the issues we face today. By the time he received his undergraduate degree in philosophy, he’d already started three companies. In 2012 he was recognized by Inc. Magazine as a “30 under 30 entrepreneur” and by Forbes as one of the “top 30 most impactful entrepreneurs” of the year. In 2013, he received the prestigious “Entrepreneur of the World” award along with Richard Branson at the Global Entrepreneurship Forum. Today, this passion for entrepreneurship and startups has led to the creation of Unreasonable Group. The vision of Unreasonable Group is to create a collective family of companies that will, together, put a dent on the seemingly intractable social and environmental challenges of this century. Daniel is also the co-founder and director of the Girl Effect Accelerator which is the world’s first program dedicated to entrepreneurs who are positioned to benefit millions of girls in poverty. Daniel believes in militant transparency and truthfulness in his everyday life and in all of the projects he is part of. He also has an overt love for his hometown of Boulder Colorado and for his dog, Kaya.
Sunder Ramaswamy, Senior Advisor for Institutional Initiatives, Distinguished College Professor of International Economics
Sunder Ramaswamy is Senior Advisor for Institutional Initiatives at Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a Distinguished College Professor of International Economics. He served as president of the Institute from January 2009 through January 2015.
Ramaswamy assumed the presidency in 2009 at a critical juncture for the Institute, shepherding the institution through integration with Middlebury College, as well as an ambitious academic reorganization initiative. During his tenure, the Institute has successfully launched new degree programs in nonproliferation and terrorism studies, international education management and international trade and economic diplomacy, as well as three new research centers (the Center for the Blue Economy, the Center for Conflict Studies, and the Center for Social Impact Learning), a cyber security initiative, and a number of other innovative initiatives. Still, he draws the greatest inspiration from the Institute’s own students: “We train future leaders, preparing them with a rigorous and pragmatic academic curriculum and immersive learning experiences to make a difference in the world – to ‘be the solution.'”
Ramaswamy is widely recognized for his scholarly and professional work in international and development economics, particularly in India and Africa. He has written and edited books, authored articles for a variety of scholarly journals focused on development and international economics, delivered presentations at international conferences on four continents, and been quoted in local, national, and international media. In 2011, the Monterey County Business Council recognized him with their Economic Vitality Award in the Education category. In 2014, he was recognized with the Hind Rattan award by the government of India.
He received his Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University in 1991, in addition to an M.S. from Purdue, an M.A. in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and a B.A. in economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, India.
Ramaswamy is currently working on projects fostering economic reforms in India. He has also been involved with USAID and INTSORMIL projects on agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa. His teaching and other academic work has been supported by grants from the Davis Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Kellogg Foundation. He has also been a consultant to UNCTAD, UNIDO, the United Nations University, and the World Bank.
Ramaswamy, his wife, Varna, and their son, Srivatsan, live in Monterey.
Maame Afon Yelbert-Obeng, Performer and Activist
Equipped with a MIIS education, Maame devotes her time and expertise to the development of women’s leadership; champion transformative mentorship for women and girls in Africa; and foster social change philanthropy. For five years, she worked at the Global Fund for Women channeling resources to support African women’s efforts around environmental and economic justice; civic and political participation; education, health and ending gender-based violence. She is a board member and Programs Director for Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership and supports the work of We Care Solar and African Women’s Development Fund–USA. Her work extends to women’s leadership in environmental justice, especially around water, sanitation and hygiene. Maame uses her music and speaking engagements to promote social justice and philanthropy. Her first album was released in 2012, and her latest is a music for social justice project titled ékomé (One), a message of unity and collaboration. In 2009, she graduated from the Global Women’s Leadership Network program where she learned to embody the values of “Whole Woman, Whole Leader.” Maame was born and raised in Ghana. As a “Whole Woman”, family is a priority and she and her husband enjoy raising their twin daughters and son.
Eric Stephenson, Portfolio Director, Cordes Foundation
Eric Stephenson is the Portfolio Director at the Cordes Foundation, focused on deploying resources across multiple asset classes and industries to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Previously, Eric was part of the Fund Investment Team at Hamilton Lane, a private markets investment firm with $170BN of assets under management, where he worked to provide private equity investment recommendations to a global client base. Prior to Hamilton Lane, Eric worked in the Global Leasing Group at Xerox Corporation, helping roll out a start-up leasing platform targeting the US small-to-medium business market, while also developing strategic business plans to enter the equipment leasing markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Eric is an active alumnus of the Semester at Sea Alumni Association Board of Directors and active alumnus and mentor for the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Career Program.
Stephanie Cordes, Vice Chair, Cordes Foundation
Stephanie Cordes is Vice Chair of the Cordes Foundation and works alongside her parents, Ron & Marty Cordes, to drive the vision and work of their family foundation. Stephanie’s work emphasizes the advancement of women’s rights through education, asset creation initiatives, and access to health care. Stephanie focuses especially on the Foundation’s work on millennial engagement and has been invited to speak at the White House, Capitol Hill, the World Economic Forum, among many other convening’s on the topic of millennial engagement in philanthropy and impact investing. As a savvy investor, Stephanie serves as a member of the Foundation’s investment committee and co-directs its impact investing strategy by leveraging catalytic capital to sustainable enterprises at the bottom of the pyramid. To this end, Cordes is building out a thesis that financial return and impact are not mutually exclusive. Stephanie previously worked as a Publishing Associate at Conde Nast and within the luxury fashion industry at brands including Maiyet and Alberta Ferretti. Stephanie is a loyal advocate for ethical sourcing and advances the foundation’s efforts in Fair Trade Certification, labor rights, and overall transparency in the global supply chains.
Sakena Yacoobi, CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is the CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), which she founded in 1995 in response to the lack of education and healthcare that the Afghan people were facing after years of war and strife. Since its founding, AIL has directly and indirectly impacted the lives of more than 12 million Afghans. She is Vice President of Creating Hope International (CHI) and has established four private schools, one private hospital and a radio station in Afghanistan. She is the recipient of five honorary doctorates from institutions including Princeton University. Dr. Yacoobi was honored as the 2013 recipient of the Opus Prize, is a Skoll Social Entrepreneur, Schwab Social Entrepreneur and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She currently serves on the board of the New Global Citizens, the advisory council for the Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and is a former board member for the Global Fund for Women. She is an advisor for the Fetzer Institute, a Kravis Prize Awardee, a Gruber Prize Awardee and is a member of the US – Afghan Women’s Council. Before founding AIL, Dr. Yacoobi was a professor at D’Etre University in Detroit, MI and was Coordinator of the Women’s Programs for the International Rescue Committee in the Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Sabiha Rumani Malik, Co-founder FMS; Founder, World Bee Project
She is the initiating founder of the World Bee Project, a social enterprise that aims to conserve biodiversity, increase food security, and reduce poverty by establishing beekeeping projects worldwide in partnership with local communities and enterprises. The World Bee Project vision is to demonstrate that mobilizing low-income farmers for beekeeping is good business for the farmers, for healthy bee populations around the world, and for investors of financial capital. Sabiha also initiated the World Bee Council, the world’s first knowledge-sharing platform that brings together scientists, researchers, practitioners and citizens dedicated to addressing the critical themes of biodiversity loss, bee decline, and global food security. In 2010 Sabiha co-envisioned the ‘Frontier Markets Scouts’ concept with Dr. Yuwei Shi, and co-founded Sanghata Global, a UK charity, with him. In 2009, Sabiha was an associate founder at Singularity University, California. Prior to that, between 1991-1995 Sabiha was a director at the architecture firm Foster and Partners, where amongst other work she produced the design concept for the reconstruction of the Reichstag building in Berlin. She also designed furniture for Tecno, Italy, for the library at the Cranfield Institute of Technology in England, and for a house in Japan.
Marty Cordes, Co-Founder, Cordes Foundation
Marty Cordes is Co-Founder of the Cordes Foundation, which she created with her husband Ron in 2006. She directs the activities of the Foundation focused on global human rights and empowering women and girls, including initiatives in education, health care and job training. She also serves on the Boards of Ripple Effect Images, Grameen PrimaCare and Freedom From Hunger. Previously, she enjoyed a career in the banking industry, and served in several volunteer leadership capacities with social service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ron Cordes, Executive Co-chairman, AssetMark; Co-founder, Cordes Foundation
Ron D. Cordes has enjoyed a 30+ year career in the investment industry. He co-founded and then sold a leading U.S. wealth management services provider, AssetMark, to Genworth Financial in 2006, and participated in re-acquiring the firm in 2013 with two private equity partners. He currently serves as Executive Co-Chairman of AssetMark, which is responsible for over $23 bb of assets in partnership with 4,000 independent investment advisors. Ron is also co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, which has a global mission of driving market-based capital to address the world’s most important problems. Ron speaks extensively on impact investing and achieving meaning and purpose in an “encore” career, and has been profiled in multiple publications including the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, FastCompany, Forbes, Financial Advisor, Financial Planning, Private Wealth Management and The New York Times. He chairs the Executive Committee for ImpactAssets, a non-profit financial services company he co-founded in 2010, and is also co-chair of the Opportunity Collaboration, a global poverty business retreat. In addition, he serves as board chair of FairTrade USA, and on the boards of Encore.org and MicroVest Capital Management.
Keely Stevenson, Social Entrepreneur and Impact Investor
Keely Stevenson is the former Chief Executive Officer if Bamboo Finance and helped to build the portfolio for Bamboo’s first private equity fund, Oasis Fund. Last year the World Economic Forum selected Keely Stevenson as 2013′s Young Global Leader (YGL).
Keely has worked in the field of social entrepreneurship and finance for over thirteen years with experience on five continents. She joined Bamboo after living in East Africa and working with the Acumen Fund, a social venture capital firm. She supported the establishment of Acumen’s Kenya office and also worked with AtoZ, a producer of anti-malaria mosquito nets, focusing on distribution and pricing strategies in Tanzania. Earlier in her career, she was the first employee hired by the CEO of the Skoll Foundation where she designed grant programs for social entrepreneurs and led the team who created the world’s first online community for social entrepreneurs, Social Edge. She has also served as the Interim Executive Director of a social enterprise in Peru (ProPeru Fund) and a startup professional development program for social entrepreneurs in India (Social-Impact International, now DASRA). She was a consultant on the viability of a UK based risk capital fund for Triodos Bank and economic development strategies for the Royal Bafokeng Nation, one of Africa’s wealthiest kingdoms. She studied politics at UC Berkeley and her passion for business led her to pursue an MBA degree at Oxford University. She is on the board of several companies in Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Yuwei Shi, Director of Research, CSIL
Dr. Yuwei Shi is Professor at GSIPM and Director of Research at the Center for Social Impact Learning. His research interests include competitive strategy, early-stage venture business model design and evaluation, and impact investing. He has published over three dozen papers in peer-reviewed journals and a number of books and book chapters. Dr. Shi has taught MBA and doctoral programs in nearly a dozen universities across the world. He won the Excellence in Teaching Award at MIIS in 2008 and the Allen Griffith Teaching Award in 2009. Dr. Shi is the founding director of the award-winning Frontier Market Scouts Fellowship Program. He currently serves on the boards of Sanghata Global, a U.K. public charity, and the World Bee Project, a community interest corporation. He is an RSA Fellow. Dr. Shi is the inaugural dean of the graduate school of international policy and management. Dr. Shi has over fifteen years of experience building programs and companies in various capacities as advising partner at Indachin, columnist for the China Economic Daily, consultant to Bain & Co and Acccenture, board director at Scholarly Exchange, president and chief executive officer of SFKX, and director of the executive program at Nanyang Business School.
Eleanor Horowitz, FMS alumna and Former Fellow with Unitus Seed Fund
An alumna of the Frontier Market Scouts program, Eleanor is passionate about scientific innovation, technology, and finding scalable solutions to social and environmental challenges worldwide. Previously, Eleanor worked at Mission Markets, a financial marketplace for sustainable investing, where she developed business strategy for environmental credit markets and helped manage the investment pipeline for social enterprises raising capital. Now she works with local startups in India that are serving bottom of the pyramid customers with Unitus Seed Fund, a seed stage venture fund investing in education, livelihoods and basic necessities for low-income families. Eleanor is a California native, who grew up in New York, studied abroad in New Zealand, has worked in Ghana, speaks French and loves adventures. She graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College with a joint major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies and a minor in Global Health.
Hannah Judge, Co-founder, Broad Street Maps
Hannah Judge is the co-founder of Broad Street Maps, a social enterprise that creates mapping analytics platforms for community health organizations in developing countries. Hannah currently leads business development and finances for Broad Street Maps. She has spent time living in India and Peru, and has previously worked with Partners In Health, GlobeMed, and John Snow, Inc. She holds a BA in Geography with a minor in Global Health from Middlebury College, and currently lives in Seattle, WA.
David Hopkins, Co-founder, Creative Expansion
David Hopkins is co-founder and managing partner of Creative Expansion LLC, a creative digital agency focused on messaging, design and consulting with organizations making a positive social or environmental impact in the world. Creative Expansion (Ce) reflects and ignites the core values of an organization through the “living the brand” approach, which carries the central message of an organization through all aspects of communication, branding and decision making. David previously served as the Membership and Campaign Director of The GameChangers. Similar to how Fortune 500 ranks organizations on revenue, the GameChangers 500 (GC500) ranks the top 500 For-Benefit companies, such as Patagonia, Tesla, Whole Foods, and IDEO, based on their ability to make a profound positive impact using business as a force for good. He is co-author of The Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing Our World (foreword by Desmond Tutu), and speaks professionally on topics including next generation leadership, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and intergenerational collaboration.
Spencer Ton, Executive Director, Cordes Foundation
Spencer is Executive Director of the Cordes Foundation, and oversees the Cordes Family’s strategy in building out a more safe and secure world through the advancement of the foundation’s philanthropic, impact investing, and field building work around women and girls empowerment and poverty alleviation through social enterprise. Prior to this role, Spencer served as Associate Director of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific, a research and social enterprise hub for the advancement of social entrepreneurship leadership and education. Ton also co-founded Fashion4Freedom, a social enterprise and design incubator that creates products and processes that lead to ethical and alternative supply chains which ultimately end environmental and labor exploitation in the fashion industry. Spencer was also an instructor of English and International Relations at the College of Foreign Languages in Hue, Vietnam and has worked for a wide range of public organizations including the San Joaquin County Public Defender’s office and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Cabinet. Spencer is also Board Chair of Design Capital, a non- governmental social enterprise organization focusing on enhancing the livelihoods of disadvantaged youth and the economic development of Vietnam by leveraging capital to country’s “missing middle” entrepreneurs. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Chinese, and Economics from the University of the Pacific’s School of International Studies and received advanced Chinese language training at Peking University.
Sydney Alfonso, Founder, Etkie
Sydney has lived in Argentina, Germany and Turkey. Her mom raised her in rural New Mexico where she grew up surrounded by inspiring, determined, and talented women. Passionate about social consumerism, financial inclusion and gender equality in the workplace, she is a former CBYX Scholar, Mellon Fellow and Davis Peace Project recipient.
Mustafa Babak, Program and Outreach Associate, CSE at Middlebury College
A native from Afghanistan, Mustafa Babak is a recent graduate of University of The Pacific. Prior to attending UOP, Mustafa worked extensively in social marketing, communication for development, public relations, project management, and qualitative outreach programs in Afghanistan. Before coming to the states to study, Mustafa worked as the Country Director of Sayara Media & Communication in Afghanistan, helping Afghan ministries, United Nations, USAID, GIZ, US and British Embassies and non-profit organizations to design and implement public awareness campaigns on a wide range of social impact issues. During his undergraduate experience in the US, Mustafa Babak worked as the President of University Council for Social Entrepreneurship, leading student driven social impact activities. He also worked for three consecutive years with CGI U as a student representative, student mentor and campus delegate. He has spoken extensively at TEDx SanJoaquin, Afghan Youth Leadership Summit in California and several local and international conferences on the role of young Afghan leadership in the future of Afghanistan.Mustafa Babak now works with the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Middlebury College as the Program and Outreach Associate.
Lissa Piercy, Executive Director, Strength of Doves Productions
Lissa Piercy is a Boston based performance poet and the Executive Director of Strength of Doves Productions, an agency that represents socially conscious, activist, spoken word artists. Lissa teaches and performs with the performance collective Flatline Poetry, winner of Boston’s 2013 Poetry Award for Best Poetry Group. She was a member of the 2014 Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam Team, and is a MassLEAP trained teaching artist. Lissa is also the creator of PWP (Performance With Purpose), a conference that brings together college students across Boston for workshops and dialogue around the idea that performance can facilitate change and action. Lissa’s passion for poetry has brought her to stages across New England and beyond, including an open mic she hosts at the Opportunity Collaboration conference in Ixtapa, Mexico. Lissa has joined forces with individuals across various fields to use poetry as the catalyst for conversation within schools, conferences, and even religious services. She brings energy, passion, heart, and grit to each performance, along with determination and drive to use poetry as a means to create change through conversation and action.
Rabeya Jawaid, CSE Fellow at Middlebury College
Rabeya grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, but attended high school in Hong Kong before coming to Middlebury. Last year, Rabeya organized a program to train deaf Pakistani women how to sew and embroider as well as how to communicate in sign language in order to help these women gain financial independence, and she returned to Pakistan last summer to implement her project with a grant from the MCSE. Rabeya is currently undeclared but is considering majoring in Economics, and is passionate about women’s rights, public policy and journalism.
Alan grew up on the small island of Martha’s Vineyard. Surrounded by water he quickly learned to swim, dive, sail and fish for fun and for work. Stories of the wild and expansive Pacific brought Alan to Santa Cruz in 2000 to pursue an undergraduate degree at UCSC. After graduating, he headed south to teach sailing on the Sea of Cortez with the National Outdoor Leadership School. He returned a couple years later to study Marine Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Alan has spent time with The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International in Indonesia. Currently he is a Sea Grant Fellow with NOAA’s Northwest Fishery Science Center. He is a cofounder of Real Good Fish, a community supported fishery that connects people with local fishermen for sustainable seafood. For Alan, the ocean sustains, inspires, and defines his way of life.
Jordan Axani, Founder, A Ticket Forward
Jor believes that travel can lead to incredible personal transformations. He is the Executive Director of A Ticket Forward. Before his internet notoriety, Jordan has been a lifelong community leader and philanthropist. When the opportunity arose to create something of enduring social value out of a simple viral story, he was quick to pull together a team of big thinkers to create A Ticket Forward.