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 the Vanderbilt University Credit Union, Conexión Americas, the Nashville Food Project, and formerly the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance. He earned an AB from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Kathleen Fuchs Hritz

Assistant Director

Bio

Kathleen Fuchs Hritz

Assistant Director

Assistant Director

Kathleen serves as the Assistant Director for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, where emerging leaders have common ground to explore and integrate their desire for meaningful, sustainable social impact with practical business strategy. Kathleen leads the TFC’s Emerging Impact Leaders program and previously facilitated Vanderbilt’s engagement with the Stanford-based University Innovation Fellows program. Kathleen helped launch and leads Owen’s Board Fellows program, which place MBA students on nonprofit boards in Nashville for one-year fellowships focused on integrating business and community leadership.

Prior to joining the TFC staff in 2016, Kathleen’s work focused on college access for first generation immigrant students to pursue higher education, leadership development, and career success in Nashville with the YMCA Latino Achievers program. Vanderbilt first brought Kathleen to Nashville, when she studied Human & Organizational Development and Spanish. After several years in non-profit work, Kathleen received a Master’s in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb University’s Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and an MBA at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. She is a board member for FUTURO, and previously served as a member of the Nashville Mayor’s New American Advisory Council and participated as a Fellow in the Nashville Institute for Faith & Work’s Gotham leadership program.

Kathleen’s work in Nashville reflects her deep passion for creating sustainable and strategic partnerships across sectors for community impact on both the individual and collective level. For these reasons, she loves to partner with amazing TFC students to advance this work and cultivate strong leaders of systemic change.

Audrey Josephson-Day

Graduate Associate

M.Ed. Community Development and Action '23

Bio

Audrey Josephson-Day

Graduate Associate

Passionate about providing opportunity to marginalized and under-resourced communities, I was first drawn to the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures for its focus on poverty alleviation. As a student in the Master’s in Community Development & Action program at Peabody, I’m studying how to assess and improve well-being at the community level, which requires a multidimensional lens to examine the intersectional impacts that economics, politics, history, injustice, and power have upon a society’s ability to flourish.

As an individual with a passion for interdisciplinary analysis and problem-solving, I have found a home at Vanderbilt within the TFC. The Center remains the only place at Vanderbilt thus far where I’ve been able to engage in conversation about a social problem with students from all over the world who study business, public health, nursing, theology, and engineering. This sort of environment is truly what inspires me.

Prior to coming to Vandy, I held an operations role in the non-profit education sector at Relay Graduate School of Education, helping to provide professional development to sitting Principals and Superintendents across the United States. My time both at Relay and living in New York are life experiences I will cherish forever, both for the existences in of themselves, and for my realization after working in a successful, national non-profit that I can make monumental impact at the systems level.

In 2018, I graduated from Tulane University in the best city in the world (New Orleans, LA) with a B.S. in Psychology as well as Minors in both Management and Spanish. Having the opportunity to continue on at Vanderbilt and with the TFC with this interdisciplinary focus is what carries me forward.

Ever-curious to explore new people, places, and philosophies, my door is always open!

Estefanía Calmet

Graduate Associate

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management ‘24

Bio

Estefanía Calmet

Graduate Associate

As a Peruvian, I seek to help develop and improve the education system in my country, which is one of my main motives for a master’s in International Education Policy and Management at Vanderbilt University. Working for the Turner Family Center has helped me understand even more market-based solutions for poverty alleviation.

I graduated from Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru, with a B.S. in Education and an ESL specialty. I have had a rich teaching experience working with students from different backgrounds and ages, which helped me develop patience, adaptability, and sensitivity to people’s difficulties and struggles.

Also, I was a research assistant for the Observatory of Peruvian Education, a social observatory and an initiative of the project Horizontes de Secundaria Rural part of UNESCO Peru. It allowed me to get involved with a great group of researchers and publish articles for them.

I look forward to becoming a more qualified professional and better leader, promoting better opportunities for everyone. Being part of the TFC has been a valuable experience, and I know it will help me achieve that goal.

Executive Board

Aryan Thapa

First-Year Board Member

LOP '24

Bio

Aryan Thapa

First-Year Board Member

I am currently pursuing M.Ed. in Leadership and Organizational Performance at Peabody. I am from Nepal and hold an MBA degree with a specialization in marketing. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, I was a Captain in the Nepal Army and also served as a helicopter pilot under the Nepal Army Aviation unit. Apart from aviations, I am also very passionate about teaching – I used to  facilitate  a course on “Organizational Behavior” as an Adjunct Faculty for undergraduate students at King’s College, Kathmandu. 

During my MBA program, I was actively engaged in various business incubation programs and workshops for exploring the concepts of design thinking and community focused business innovation. I am  thrilled to be a part of the TFC and collaborating with students from different disciplines and all over the world. I am positive that the connections and relationships I will form through the TFC will enable me to contribute to the social impact sector in Nepal by fostering meaningful partnerships.

 

Bobby Kelley

Immersion Chair

MBA '23

Bio

Bobby Kelley

Immersion Chair

I am currently an MBA student at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management concentrating in Marketing, Operation & Analytics, and Strategy. Having spent my whole life in Ohio, Nashville is the first place that I have called home outside of the state.  Upon graduating from Miami University with a major in finance, I have spent my entire professional life working in various corporate finance roles spanning pension fund administration, treasury operations, and credit risk & analysis at a major energy company.

I fell in love with the TFC after learning about the organization during my exploration of potential MBA programs. What really resonated with me about the TFC was the way it goes about providing students with an education around social enterprise while also developing their toolsets to help them make a difference. Driving the idea that individuals need to lead with both a socially and environmentally conscious mindset is more important now than it’s ever been.

Connor Jackson

Academics & Experiences Chair

LOP '23

Bio

Connor Jackson

Academics & Experiences Chair

Hello! I grew up in the great state of New Hampshire where I developed an affinity for seafood, an abiding fandom of New England sports, and a love of skiing. Following high school I attended college at Carleton College, in Minnesota. While there I learned the value of thick wool socks and stoked my curiosities toward questions of justice and educational equity as well as organizational identification and cohesion, all under the guise of a political science degree.

Following college, I spent two years working with high school students at a college access organization. After two years, I found my way back to Minnesota and to Carleton, this time working in the Admissions Office. This job broadened my understanding of higher and secondary education systems, as well as appreciation for college application essays with deft touches of humor.

I am currently pursuing my M.Ed in Leadership and Organizational Performance and serving as the Academics & Experiences Board Chair. The TFC has been an integral part of my Vanderbilt experience thus far, and I look forward to creating opportunities for connection, learning, and community in the coming months.

I’m a runner, reader, burgeoning cook, and novice pickleballer. Send me an email and let’s connect!

Email: Connor.s.jackson@vanderbilt.edu

Dasha Berezenska

Impact Investing Chair

MBA '23

Bio

Dasha Berezenska

Impact Investing Chair

I am an MBA student at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management concentrating in Finance and Strategy. I was born and raised in Ukraine, but my natural curiosity drove me to discover horizons beyond my country. I have lived on three different continents (EU, Asia, and North America) and worked in three different industries. Before Owen, I lived in Singapore working at a physical commodity trading company and later helped to launch a tech venture with a focus on sustainability.

Witnessing economic inequality in Ukraine inspired me to learn about impact investment strategies that provide competitive financial returns while fostering positive environmental and social impact. The TFC, which drew me to Owen, provides a platform to engage with others who are passionate about reducing inequality by creating a sustainable economic environment. I am looking forward to creating an impact together with the TFC.

Ergisa Bejkollari

Summit Chair

GPED '23

Bio

Ergisa Bejkollari

Summit Chair

Ergisa Bejkollari is a MIP fellow, currently pursuing a Master of Economic Development (STEM Designation) at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

She holds a bachelor’s and Master of Science degree in Business Administration, from the Faculty of Economy, University of Tirana. In 2018, she was awarded a Konrad Adenauer Foundation Scholarship for her master’s studies. Previously, Ergisa has held the role of Business Solutions Specialist/ Project Coordinator at Vodafone Albania Scan. Ergisa has been involved in civil society through her work as a Public Policy Analyst at the A.P.P.A and as an Independent Researcher on the OSCE 1-year project dedicated to transitional justice, with a focus on economic crimes during the communist regime.

Her interests include technology, innovation, history, and cinematography. She spends her free time studying the intellectual and professional contributions of Albanian women and girls throughout history.

 

Evelyn Ward

First-Year Board Member

MBA '24

Bio

Evelyn Ward

First-Year Board Member

I am an MBA student at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, concentrating in Marketing. I was born in raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and have since lived in Columbus, Cleveland and Chicago, IL prior to moving to Nashville. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology. I’ve taken on various roles in the food safety industry throughout my career including food microbiologist, plant hygienist and consultative sales account manager.

Before coming to Owen, I took a deep dive into the different student organizations available to get involved in. TFC caught my eye immediately and I am extremely passionate and excited by the work being done by this organization. I am pleased to serve on this board and contribute to the invaluable impact that TFC has on the community.

Parker Willmon

Social Startups Chair

PhD Biomedical Engineering '25

Bio

Parker Willmon

Social Startups Chair

Howdy, y’all, I am originally from Houston, Texas and am pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering focusing on biophotonics (how light can be used for the diagnosis and treatment of disease). In particular, my research focuses on surgical guidance systems that can be brought to market by startups. This interest in entrepreneurship originates from spending four years in the backroom of my dad’s office while my parents tried to get their business off the ground. This interest developed overtime and led to me competing in several pitch competitions while an undergraduate at Louisiana Tech. After coming to Vanderbilt, I jumped at the chance to participate in the Social Enterprise Pitch Competition – my first experience with the TFC.

As someone who has been a Department of Child Services mentor and tutor, I have seen the impact volunteers can have on the disenfranchised. However, the fact that businesses can strive to help these groups and still succeed as a business was a novel idea that has sucked me in. Now, I attend as many TFC events as I can be they immersions, lunch and learns, or classes.

Rocío Posada-Castañeda

Project Pyramid Chair

MPH '23

Bio

Rocío Posada-Castañeda

Project Pyramid Chair

I am an MPH candidate pursuing a Global Health concentration at the School of Medicine. I am originally from Delaware and hold a BA from the University of Richmond. My interests lie at the intersection of public health, social enterprise, and technology innovation. I am most passionate about improving health outcomes for underserved populations in the US and Latin America by leveraging technology that connects people to social care and disease management services. Through my experiences I’ve had the opportunity to work on community health projects in Peru, teach English in Mexico through a Fulbright fellowship, and manage health equity programs at VUMC’s Office of Health Equity.

I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to TFC’s mission as the Project Pyramid Chair. My hope is to partner with global socially conscious organizations that will foster a meaningful learning experience for the future Project Pyramid cohort. In my free time, I enjoy attending shows at TPAC, exploring Nashville’s state parks, and planning my next trip.

Sumit Kar

Alumni Engagement Chair

MBA '23

Bio

Sumit Kar

Alumni Engagement Chair

I am an MBA student at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management concentrating in Operations, Marketing and Strategy. I grew up in New Delhi, India and am passionate about music and sports, specifically soccer. In my teens, I moved down south to Bangalore to complete my formal education in Computer Science Engineering. Prior to business school, I wore multiple hats within the technology industry from software development to sales and marketing. Through my experiences I have learned that I have a passion for technology, the environment, and making connections with people to solve some of the most challenging problems.

The Turner Family Center was a big reason why I chose to attend Vanderbilt. I am drawn to its mission to “leave the world better than you found it” especially as I look to apply my experiences and newfound erudition in impact investing and social impact to drive change within communities. Outside of Owen, I split my time experiencing new cultures, gaining fresh perspectives to traditional problems, reading non-fictional books, and traveling.

Trey Suddeth

Executive Board Chair

MBA '23

Bio

Trey Suddeth

Executive Board Chair

Currently pursuing a general management focus for my MBA at Owen School of Management. I am attending graduate school to pivot from corporate supply chain into management consulting. Acting as the resident Tennessee Volunteer on the board, I am invigorated by complex problems with a special appetite for addressing inequity.

I’ve sought every opportunity to educate myself on organizations and the TFC has always appeared unique to me for its quasi capitalist-social impact status. By my view, this allows for creative solutioning to slippery issues while bringing together students across the entire interdisciplinary spectrum. I love the confluence of perspective the TFC fosters and intellectual challenge that comes with tracking the ever-moving target of relevant social impact.

I grew up in southwest Florida immersed in an environment of extremely contrasted wealth. I’ve been asking questions ever since and am always apt to bring up blunt skepticism to the status quo.

This year I will be working to build upon the culture momentum set by the preceding board with strong established communication channels, transparent leadership reporting, and increased engagement across all Vanderbilt graduate schools.

Off-campus, you can find me on a pickleball court raving about a newly discovered musical or kombucha blend. Please email me with questions, TFC and non! reach me at John.m.suddeth@vanderbilt.edu.

 

Will Husted

Branding & Marketing Chair

HEA '23

Bio

Will Husted

Branding & Marketing Chair

I am currently pursuing a masters in Higher Education Administration, where I explore the nexus of interests that higher education grapples with. My ‘why’ for being in the TFC is a passion for providing innovative solutions to complex issues alongside those from different backgrounds. Additionally, I hope to extend the TFC brand as one that provides care and understanding to its social impact work.

As an undergraduate, I enjoyed pursuing the practice of thoughtfully engaging communities as an editor at the school newspaper alongside student work in the office of Campus and Visitor Relations that furthered my interest in community development. I hope to bring an inclusive and history-informed perspective to my work with the TFC.

When not at Owen, I am a graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students providing support for the larger graduate assistantship program and communication efforts. I can also be found TA-ing an undergraduate course on Leadership Theory and Practice. You can also find me cheering on my alma mater Wisconsin Badgers!

Will Radney

Special Projects and Consulting Chair

MBA '23

Bio

Will Radney

Special Projects and Consulting Chair

I am an MBA student at the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, concentrating in Strategy and Operations & Analytics. I am originally from Houston, Texas and graduated with a degree in Finance from Texas A&M University. Before coming to Owen, I spent most of my career thus far in Los Angeles and the Bay Area working in Analytics and Optimization in the energy industry. Post Owen, I plan to pursue a career in management consulting.

The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures played a significant role in my decision to come to Vanderbilt and my involvement with the organization thus far has only affirmed that decision. Nowhere else did I see an organization that brought together students from different graduate schools to learn from each other and learn about social enterprise, and that was extremely intriguing to me from the beginning of my time at Owen. I believe that it is important for business to consider and prioritize social impact as well as financial goals, and as the Special Projects and Consulting Chair, I am excited to help our students learn from and further the missions of local social enterprises and organizations here in Nashville.

Advisory Board

Shani Dowell

CEO & Founder, Possip

Bio

Shani Dowell

CEO & Founder, Possip

Shani Dowell is the founder and CEO of Possip. A product of Houston public schools and a public school teacher and parent, Shani loves supporting the work of schools. She started her career as a consultant at Bain & Co. and helped launch the Boston office of the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to increase student retention and engagement on college campuses. She has also worked for Houston Independent School District, KIPP Foundation—a national network of charter schools, Teach For America, Bridgespan Group, and Relay Graduate School of Education. Shani earned her BA at Howard University in Washington, DC, and her MBA at Stanford University. In starting Possip, Shani seeks to support schools by elevating the ideas of parents, teachers, and students.

Hattie Duplechain

Director of Learning Experience and Impact Measurement, Innovation Space

Bio

Hattie Duplechain

Director of Learning Experience and Impact Measurement, Innovation Space

Hattie Duplechain is currently the Director of Learning Experience and Impact Measurement at the Innovation Space, an incubator for early-stage tech startups affiliated with the University of Delaware. She is also a lecturer for social entrepreneurship coursework there. Hattie has over 12 years of experience leading innovation initiatives across K12 and higher education with organizations including Ashoka, The New Teacher Project, and the U.S. Fulbright Program. Hattie holds an M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University and dual B.A. degrees in Communication Studies and English from Clemson University.

Ryan Lojo

Manager, Simon-Kucher & Partners

(Owen MBA '21)

Bio

Ryan Lojo

Manager, Simon-Kucher & Partners

Ryan is a Manager at Simon-Kucher & Partners. He is focused on industrial, tech, and non-profit clients, as well as those looking to grow their sustainability presence. Ryan earned an MBA from Vanderbilt University in 2021. While at Vanderbilt, he was a two-time board member for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures (Alumni Engagement and Social Startup) and project lead for a Project Pyramid team working in Guatemala.

Prior to Vanderbilt, Ryan was a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural village of the Dominican Republic, where he served as a Community Economic Development consultant leading small business creation, micro-finance, and infrastructure activities in his community. Following that, he was named a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico City. During his grant and follow-up work, he worked with startups across Mexico, focusing on scaling operations, product development and digital marketing. When not in the office, Ryan can be found hunting for the best tacos and dumplings.

Brian McCann

Faculty Director

Owen

Bio

Brian McCann

Faculty Director

A long-time supporter and partner in the work of the TFC, Professor McCann is a celebrated teacher, mentor, and faculty member in the Owen Graduate School of Management. As faculty director, he will collaborate with center staff and student leadership to continue building the Center’s strategy for programming and learning at the intersection of social impact and business.

Professor Brian McCann is an authority in the field of strategic management. McCann has more than ten years of industry experience, including running JMD Development, Inc., a residential land development company; serving as the CFO for the Internet start-up Solve Interactive; and developing new strategic initiatives for the Dayton Development Coalition, a non-profit economic development group.

His research spans strategic management and entrepreneurship, including governance choices in interfirm relationships and the effects associated with the propensity of similar firms to co-locate geographically.  He has also studied a variety of decision choices in entrepreneurial ventures.

Professor McCann’s work has appeared in such leading journals as the Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Management Studies, and the Journal of Management. He is also the co-author (with fellow Owen professor Luke Froeb) of the leading textbook Managerial Economics: A Problem-Solving Approach, which was originally published in 2007 by South-Western and is currently under revision for a fourth edition.

Bio

Emily Sheldon

CEO & Co-Founder, African Health Innovation Centre

Bio

Emily Sheldon

CEO & Co-Founder, African Health Innovation Centre

Emily Sheldon is most passionate about using market-based approaches to solve complex challenges throughout the African continent. Her global development experience spans sub-Saharan Africa and includes diverse engagement in facilitation and training, capacity building, and programme design. Emily serves as co-founder and CEO of the African Health Innovation Centre, Ghana’s first organization dedicated to the utilization of innovation and entrepreneurship to improve health outcomes.

Prior to establishing AHIC, Emily served as the Director of Health Innovation for Impact Hub Accra, and held a second role as Africa Regional Lead for the Impact Hub global team, driving strategy and business development throughout the continent. Emily has worked in the non-profit, for-profit, and consulting fields with a predominant focus on process leadership, project management, and strategy. She holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN, USA.

In addition to her work at AHIC, Emily supports entrepreneurs through a variety of advisory roles. She currently serves as a Mentor-in-Residence for the Yale Sustainable Health Initiative and as co-Ambassador for the Vanderbilt Master of Public Health program. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Crowdfrica (Ghana), and as an advisory board member for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures at Vanderbilt University (USA), AlephEngineering (Ghana), Rare Disease Ghana Initiative (Ghana), and PocketPatient MD (Kenya).

Courtney Watson

Co-Founder & Partner, Chestnut Catalyst Group

Bio

Courtney Watson

Co-Founder & Partner, Chestnut Catalyst Group

Courtney is a co-founder of Chestnut Catalyst Group, a woman-led company that through research, strategic capacity building, and investment works to advance social innovation for thriving, diverse, and sustainable communities. Courtney is a partner in Chestnut Opportunity Zone Fund, a qualified opportunity zone fund focused on community-aligned, real estate projects that have the potential to provide both financial and social value. She is also a partner in the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, a venture capital firm that has invested in early-stage companies in the Southeast. Courtney serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga as well as The Enterprise Center.

Courtney received her Bachelor of Science in Commerce from The University of Virginia with a minor in French and a Master of Business Administration in Finance and Strategy from Vanderbilt University.  She is often found in the mountains, on a yoga mat, or watching her kids on the sports fields. Courtney lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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