Staff

Turner Family Center for Social Ventures

Mario Avila

Director

Bio

Mario Avila

Director

Mario serves as the founding Director of the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures at Vanderbilt University, a new hub that serves as a resource and thought leader for people across the university interested in combining revenue-generating businesses with social impact objectives. Most recently, he was the CEO of Emerge and founder of Contigo Financial, a socially-responsible consumer lender headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. His management experience includes finance, education and consulting in three different countries. He was a Fellow of Vanderbilt University’s Cal Turner program for Moral Leadership in the Professions and helped develop a hybrid housing-microfinance model to finance mortgage needs of people at the base of the pyramid in Central America. Mario serves on various boards including Conexión Americas and is Chairman of the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance. He earned an AB from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Kathleen Fuchs

Manager

Bio

Kathleen Fuchs

Manager

Manager

I am grateful to serve as the Manager for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, where emerging leaders have common ground to explore and integrate their desire for meaningful and sustainable social impact with practical business strategy. Prior to joining the TFC staff, my work focused on college access for first generation immigrant students to pursue higher education, leadership development, and career success here in Nashville with the YMCA Latino Achievers program. Vanderbilt first brought me to Nashville, when I studied here as an undergraduate in Human & Organizational Development and Spanish. After several years in non-profit work, I received a Master’s in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb University’s Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership. I am also member of the Nashville Mayor’s New American Advisory Council. My work in Nashville reflects my deep passion for creating sustainable and strategic partnerships across sectors for community impact on both the individual and collective level. I am excited partner with our amazing graduate students through the TFC to advance this work and cultivate strong leaders in systemic change.

 

Megan Skaggs

Graduate Assistant

M.Ed. and M.A. Latin American Studies 21'

Bio

Megan Skaggs

Graduate Assistant

Though raised in a small town in Kentucky for much of my adolescence, my most formative years were spent abroad – from Sri Lanka to Tunisia – due to my parents’ occupations with the state department and military. This early interest in culture followed me to my collegiate years, and I was eager to find ways to translate my passion for culture to a career. In 2014, I spent six weeks completing an internship at an orphanage in Guatemala, where I became intrigued by the role NGOs and nonprofits play in improving educational opportunities for children in impoverished regions. In 2016, I graduated from Western Kentucky University with B.A.s in both International Affairs and English. Upon graduation, I spent a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Esquipulas, Guatemala, where I worked with the Access English Microscholarship Program. My time there further solidified my desire to explore ways to improve access to quality education for those most marginalized via governmental and non-governmental programs, and I am eager to expand upon my technical skillsets and knowledge of the region while at Vanderbilt University.
At Vanderbilt, I will be pursing my M.A. in Latin American Studies and my M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management, and look forward to the opportunity to work with the Owen Graduate School of Management as the Graduate Assistant for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures. Having served in Guatemala and conducted research in myriad countries in Central America, I have developed a particular interest in how businesses can balance creating a sustainable social impact with a successful business model, and the role that education has as a means to alleviate the poverty pervasive in many such areas. While my experiences have shown me the challenges associated with these structures, I also recognize the impact that a successful social venture could have on communities not only in Central America, but across the world.

Advisory Board

Bart Victor

Faculty Director

Owen

Bio

Bart Victor

Faculty Director

Cal Turner Professor of Moral Leadership Across the Professions for Vanderbilt University
Ph.D. Business Administration, University of North Carolina

Dr. Victor joined the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management faculty from the Institute for Management Development International (IMD), in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he was Professor of Management and Director of the Program for Management Development. Prior to IMD, Dr. Victor was on the faculties of the University of North Carolina and the University of Nebraska. In addition to serving on the Advisory Board for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, Dr. Victor leads the Project Pyramid program.

Bio

Turner Family Center for Social Ventures

Jacob Hill

MBA '15

Bio

Jacob Hill

Jake received his undergraduate degree from Centre College in Danville, KY. He began his professional career in McAllen, TX as a high school teacher at PSJA High School while serving in Teach for America. He continued his career as an educator at KIPP Academy Nashville before entering the corporate world as a recruiter at Asurion. While at Owen, Jake served as President of Project Pyramid, was active in Net Impact, and served as Chairman of the Honor Council. He graduated from Owen in 2015 and is currently a Senior Consultant in Human Capital at Deloitte.

Turner Family Center for Social Ventures

Kathleen McKissack

M.Ed., IEPM, '15

Bio

Kathleen McKissack

Kathleen was first exposed to issues of global poverty when she took a semester off from her undergraduate studies at Clemson University to live and work in rural Uganda. There she became interested in issues of educational access, quality, and innovation in developing countries. After finishing her B.A. in Psychology, she entered Vanderbilt’s masters program in International Education Policy & Management where she explored the intersection of education, poverty, social enterprise, and product design. Kathleen was delighted to be a part of the group of students who initially designed and raised funds for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, and currently serves on the TFC Advisory Board.

Programming Board

Mike O’Hara

Board Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Mike O’Hara

Board Chair

MBA ’19

As an undergraduate, I realized the power of service. I graduated from Boston College with a degree in Neuroscience and Social Justice, and during my time there I learned a great deal about the philosophical and theological roots of the Jesuit service tradition. After college, that passion took me into the classroom; I joined the Teach for America program, through which I trained to be a special education teacher in Philadelphia.

As a teacher, I realized the power of the systems and stakeholders that can influence social change for better or worse. To better understand different aspects of these systems, I sought broader experience in the business world and was drawn to Deloitte Consulting, where I worked as a strategy consultant for Fortune 500 companies.

As a consultant, I realized the power of business and funding models in impacting the world – including the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. I came to Vanderbilt to pursue my MBA in search of a deeper understanding of the academic underpinnings of business strategy and management, and to take advantage of experiences that would challenge me, expose me to diverse and captivating people, and enable me to grow my impact.

As a member of the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, I’ve been fortunate to learn a great deal about social enterprise. consult with social entrepreneurs seeking to start new ventures, design programming to engage and develop student leaders, and collaborate with a truly remarkable group of people across academic disciplines. As chair, my goal is to continue the great work already accomplished by the TFC while further amplifying our impact on students, partner organizations, and the community.

 

Radhika Karve

Board Vice Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Radhika Karve

Board Vice Chair

MBA ’19

I am a first year MBA student at Owen Graduate School of Management concentrating in finance & strategy. Prior coming to business school, I was working as a consultant at KPMG in India. I have completed my CPA certification and Bachelor of Business from India.

Turner Family Center for social ventures (TFC) was one of the main reason why I selected Owen for my business education. This social venture has four main pillars- it has student leaders on the programming board from different graduate schools at Vanderbilt, focusses on applying business skills to alleviate poverty. Turner Family Center was a great resource to me during my first year. It gave me a global leadership opportunity early on. I participated in HULT & project pyramid. Through project pyramid we went to Colombia to establish a sustainable business model for the coffee farmers.

From the very beginning, I felt very included with the entire team. People working here do not just believe in the mission but also exhibit the zest to change the world. And though we only can do incremental changes in the projects we work on to alleviate poverty, these experiences at TFC have shaped my perspective of looking at things and in turn made me more receptive to diversity of thought.

Thanks for visiting the site! Feel free to reach out to any programming board member for more information.

Brandon Kieffer

Outreach & Communications Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Brandon Kieffer

Outreach & Communications Chair

MBA ’19

After graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in marketing, I immediately went to work for my family’s business in the Houston, Texas area. I served as the marketing manager for three years before realizing that I wanted to take on bigger opportunities in a more dynamic role. I also realized I needed to improve my skillset to be able to take on the challenges of the global economy, which is why I decided to pursue my MBA. While at Owen, I am concentrating on marketing and strategy where I plan to pursue a career in brand management after graduation.

I was introduced to the Turner Family Center and the entire idea of social enterprise as a prospective student while visiting Owen. The mission of being an interdisciplinary, student-led organization focused on sustainably eliminating poverty through market-driven forces grabbed my attention. As someone who always tries to find ways to use my unique skillsets to help others, I immediately saw the potential this empowerment could have on both students and those in need of our help. I have developed an insatiable curiosity since arriving on campus to learn more about social enterprise and its unique challenges and opportunities while expanding my horizon passed the business school and working with graduate students with different mindsets. I am a strong believer in learning by doing, so I have tried to be involved in numerous experiential learning opportunities through the TFC such as Project Pyramid and leading learning treks. I am extremely excited about what the future holds for the TFC and to be able to play a role in improving the outreach and experience students can have while on campus.

 

Hina Sherwani

Outreach & Communications Chair

M.A. GPED '19

Bio

Hina Sherwani

Outreach & Communications Chair

M.A. GPED ’19

I am a second year student pursuing a Master’s degree in Economics at the Graduate Program of Economic Development.  From a young age, I have been troubled by the socio-economic problems that prevail in our world and I have always tried to understand why such disparities existed. In my capacity as a student, I always tried to increase my knowledge of the subject by specifically taking courses that focus on Impact Evaluation. I learnt to appreciate the depth of Impact of recent new innovative projects and policies all around the world and the profound implications that its results could have on the economy.

During my time at Vanderbilt I came across the Turner Family Center that focused on one of the most exciting developments in the fight against poverty in the form of a new kind of business called Social Enterprises. TFC immediately caught my attention and I knew I had to be more involved. These enterprises create sustainable social impact by providing the poor with beneficial products and services, while creating improved livelihood opportunities. These innovative models target a wide range of areas, from healthcare to education, sanitation to housing.

I believe that the mission of TFC can make a tremendous contribution to build future leaders and entrepreneurs to find solutions to global challenges all around the world. Whilst academics are integral to understanding essential concepts and core theory, it is experiential learning that enhances a student’s personal development. Fortunately, last year I was able to participate in a number of activities led by the TFC, which enabled me to develop a very holistic outlook. I feel honored to be able to serve on the board this year to help TFC better achieve its goal and give more students the opportunity to start seeing the systemic nature of the challenges that social ventures face and play a stronger role to help them overcome those challenges.

Jordan Jurinsky

Summit Chair

M.Ed. '19

Bio

Jordan Jurinsky

Summit Chair

M.Ed. Community Development and Action ’19

From a young age, I’ve had a passion for helping others, and throughout my previous work experiences, I have witnessed a varied spectrum of how people live in different parts of the world. After observing the complexity of individual’s suffering locally and internationally, I developed a desire to explore the ecology of the human experience including the micro, meso, and macro factors that play a role. I am currently a second-year graduate student at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College pursuing a Masters of Education in Community Development and Action, and I have a Bachelors of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Asheville in sociology. My studies at Vanderbilt are a culmination of my former studies and years spent working in the health sector in academic, non-profit, and for-profit settings. It is my continued interest to find innovative ways to alleviate the challenges that others face through trans-disciplinary partnerships.

After attending a talk hosted by the Turner Family Center on the topic of social issues, I knew that the TFC was a vehicle through which I could learn more about social enterprise and find innovative ways to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty. I’m excited to be a part of the TFC and further my work in this arena.

Sayrge Braccio

Hult Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Sayrge Braccio

Hult Chair

MBA ’19

I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and studied accounting at the University of Southern California. After a short stint in public accounting at Deloitte, I made a transition to the real estate industry, where I spent the next six years working as a lender and then as a developer. I decided to return to school in order to hone my managerial skills, learn more about real estate investing and explore a variety of different career paths.

I was first motivated to volunteer through religion. As time went on, social service became less of a religious undertaking and more of a genuine way to connect with and help others. In Los Angeles, I was involved with the Special Olympics and Reading Partners, an organization that utilizes volunteers to create after-school reading programs for underprivileged children. The TFC has opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about social ventures, I no longer see social mission and for-profit business as black and white. I am excited to be leading the Hult Prize case competition this year!

Amna Aslam

SEc Chair

M.Ed. '19

Bio

Amna Aslam

SEc Chair

M.Ed. ’19

I graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences, in Pakistan, with a major in Accounting & Finance. This program gave me insight into the many dimensions of a business and a head start into a corporate career. I worked for 3 years in Human Resources and Sales in a large dairy organization thereafter, which exposed me to the many opportunities corporations have in creating long-term impact for the communities they partner with, rather than just cater to ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ in a rudimentary sense. With the resources that the private sector has, I feel it imperative that it steps up in working in congruence with the community to find solutions to problems that are otherwise too complex. In trying to lead that change at a strategic level, I landed at Peabody College of Education and Human Development, which offered a specialized program that looks into resource optimization.
I have been engaged with the Turner Family Center even before I got here. I see it as an excellent platform to help me further improve my knowledge and skills to find the most innovative partnerships between the private and public sector, aimed at better serving society and improving equity and equality. My experiences with TFC’s many initiatives have played a key role in developing my leadership and insights further and preparing me for my long-term career. I am super excited about catalyzing my journey through my role as the Social Enterprise Consulting Chair for the next year and enable others to do the same.

Andrew Mitchell

Career & Education Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Andrew Mitchell

Career & Education Chair

MBA ’19

(bio coming soon)

Tyler Skelton

Project Pyramid Chair

MBA '19

Bio

Tyler Skelton

Project Pyramid Chair

MBA ’19

I grew up in Oklahoma City and received my undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, where I concentrated in Accounting and Management.  Prior to Owen, I worked in corporate accounting for a major energy company for seven year, but I always wanted to do something more meaningful through my work.  This initially led me to managing operations for a university endowment before going to business school to help move my career forward.

I’ve always enjoyed helping others but wasn’t sure how I could have the biggest impact, both personally and professionally.  The TFC and the work they do through social enterprise is a big part of what brought me to Owen.  I wanted to learn through experience and the TFC provided me that opportunity.  In my first year I was able to serve on the Summit Committee and consult with an organization in Ethiopia through Project Pyramid.  I’m excited to lead Project Pyramid this year and help make an impact, both for our students and for partner organizations focused on tackling poverty in sustainable, meaningful ways.

 

Cali Livingstone

Treks Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Cali Livingstone

Treks Chair

Hana Bacaj

Case Competitions Chair

M.A. GPED '20

Bio

Hana Bacaj

Case Competitions Chair

Graduating in my undergrad in Economics & Statistics, I became more familiar with using quantitative approaches for solving economic problems in both the public and private sectors. Additionally, it helped me better understand the imperative role that economy plays in the sustainable development of a country or a community. I became extensively interested in education and employment of women and young people as core determinants to community development. Moreover, working at UBO Consulting as a JuniorResearch Analyst where I did social research and analyses for donor organizations and various firms, I was able to work with real-world issues.

My experience and extensive knowledge in economic analysis for policy and recommendation made me further my career in the field of development economics; thus, currently, I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Economic Development at the Graduate Program of Economic Development(GPED) at Vanderbilt University. Nevertheless, I feel that refining my skills in economics is not enough. Thus, learningabout Turner Family Center which mainly focuses on poverty alleviation made me realize that what I need are additional professional skills which are usually used in social ventures and include finding solutions to persisting societal problems through market-driven forces. I want to learn to identify business opportunities similarly as former Vanderbilt University GPED alumni, Muhammad Yunus did with Grameen Bank.

I feel honored that I am the board member for Case Competition this year and that I was giventhe opportunity to help TFC to continue its incredible work.

TFC intentionally builds relationships with businesses who are motivated to use their resources as a catalyst for the alleviation of poverty. Our partners in the local community, throughout the nation, and around the world help us increase our reach and change the status quo.

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