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

Cali Livingstone

Board Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Cali Livingstone

Board Chair

As a lifelong traveler, I am most inspired by the passion, resilience and laughter I encounter even where people have much less than myself. While completing my bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Mandarin at Colby College, I enrolled in a class that centered around C.K. Prahalad’s preeminent work, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, which details how business can and should be leveraged to incorporate and lift-up those who are traditionally excluded from global and local commerce. This was my first insight into the important role enterprise has in providing the tools and the pathway out of poverty.

After college, I worked for Mercy Corps, a large international NGO, on programs that harnessed the power of the markets to transform how rural agrarian communities could access better farming inputs; more substantial buyer contracts; and improved incomes, education, healthcare, and lives. The work was deeply meaningful to me, but I wanted to have even broader impact at scale. I chose to pursue my MBA at Vanderbilt because I felt that the corporate world was the best avenue for affecting this type of change

My role with TFC has been essential in my ability to bridge my two worlds, learn from my classmates about their failures and successes in this space, and build lifelong friends dedicated to leaving the world a better place.

 

Seth Staugler

Vice Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Seth Staugler

Vice Chair

After graduating from Ohio State University with a marketing degree in 2009, I immediately joined the U.S. Army because I felt a passion for serving my country and intrinsic desire to lead soldiers in a noble cause. As I embark on my next career, I find myself drawn to careers in which I can make a social impact and inspire others to change the world for the better. Although my military service is over, I am not finished serving and helping others in need.

As an adopted child, I experienced the impact of people serving to improve the lives of children. Through combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, I witnessed the devastation of homelessness, poverty, and social inequality. Because of this, I started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, and the Nashville Rescue Mission for over the last three years. While my experiences with these organizations have been some of the most rewarding of my life and opened my eyes to a new career path, I owe it to my military background for equipping me with the tools to make a difference and establishing the foundation for my transition from a military leader to a market leader.

After separating from the U.S. Army in July 2018, I was only certain about one thing. I wanted to attend the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, and the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures was the main differentiator in making Owen my top choice. Being a member of the Turner Family Center has been one of the most rewarding experiences during my first year as an MBA candidate. Additionally, I cannot wait to help carry on the legacy of the Turner Family Center and build on the accomplishments of my predecessors. While I know that this is going to be quite the challenge, I am ready and excited to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems regarding poverty alleviation through market forces with a motivated group of Vanderbilt graduate students.

Lindsay Edwards

Partnerships Chair

M.Ed. Community Development and Action '20

Bio

Lindsay Edwards

Partnerships Chair

After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2016 with a degree in Economics & History, I found myself at a small venture capital firm, Jumpstart Foundry, that invested in early-stage health care companies across the nation. While I learned a lot, I still felt something was missing in my job. While looking into graduate programs, I came across the Masters of Education in Community Development and Action, and something clicked. I’ve always been curious about how and why there are such vast disparities around the world, and in our nation, and felt that through this course of study I may get a better understand of the why, and also some insight into what to do about it. 

In the summer before starting at Peabody, I found myself working on a social enterprise project for a small non-profit. I learned a lot a long the way, but also realized just how much there was to learn about this intersection of business and social justice. Once hearing about the TFC, I thought this could be a great way to learn more about how business can alleviate some of the most pressing issues of today. I jumped on the first volunteer opportunity I saw – leading entrepreneurship classes for adults at Project Return – and have been involved ever since. I’m so excited to jump into the role of Partnerships chair and to be able to expand my work with this organization. 

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.

Rabo Garba

Impact Investing Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Rabo Garba

Impact Investing Chair

I grew up in Nigeria, where reliable energy has remained elusive and negatively impacts productivity. I graduated from Union University with a degree in mechanical engineering and started my career focused on energy efficiency for manufacturing facilities. I eventually took a role as an energy consultant for a large utility because I was interested in improving lives by accelerating access to renewable energy. Over time I realized I would be more effective with a grasp of finance and business models.

The Turner Family Center was my biggest attraction to the MBA program at Vanderbilt University. I believe diverse viewpoints lead to better solutions and I believe market forces inherently create sustainable solutions. I also believe for profit companies have a part to play in solving social issues. Coming into school I hoped the TFC would incorporate impact investing into its offerings. As a student-led organization, the TFC leadership provided the opportunity for me to be part of the first impact investing team to represent Vanderbilt University. As the impact investing chair, I hope to build on this experience and create new experiences for students to affect positive change in Nashville and across the globe.

Zahraa Dagher

Summit Board Chair

M.Ed. Leadership and Organizational Performance (LOP) '20

Bio

Zahraa Dagher

Summit Board Chair

My experience showed me the role of entrepreneurship in giving people a voice and a choice in leading their lives. I am driven towards amplifying people’s voice and contributing to their journey of potential fulfillment. Because of that, I aspire to play a part in  growing robust entrepreneurial communities.

I grew up in an economy that pursues a shift from being oil-based to becoming a sustainable, globally competitive one. The country’s vision became one of my own as I actively engaged in avenues supporting the development of young entrepreneurs and leaders. Witnessing the significant impact of entrepreneurship in catalyzing the business environment made me an avid believer of the role of entrepreneurship in economic growth.

Moved by a desire to shape people’s experiences, I have majored in Architecture. My undergraduate degree gave me the tools to become a visual thinker and problem solver who puts people at the heart of the solution and integrates stakeholders in the problem-solving process. Using these frameworks, I have extensively spent the past five years as a consultant for ventures across the US, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.

I am pursuing a professional degree at Peabody to be better equipped in navigating ambiguity using evidence-based practices. I have been vastly involved the Turner Family Center, and I am excited to lead its fifth annual summit where leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators convene

Mallory Hall

Academics and Experiences Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Mallory Hall

Academics and Experiences Chair

I grew up in a small town in Western Kentucky and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Though I was on a pre-med track throughout my time at UK, as a junior I got involved with Teach For America through a summer internship and found myself extremely passionate about the organization’s mission. I ended up joining TFA as a corps member after graduation and taught high school science for two years in Appalachian Kentucky.

After my time as a teacher, I moved to Louisville, KY, where I worked in early childhood education then spent a small amount of time doing hands-on skill building with adults in suicidal crises at a behavioral health nonprofit. I decided to come to Owen to build on the people-centered background I’d built through completing a Human and Organizational Performance concentration. This summer, I’ll be completing my internship in Atlanta with Deloitte’s Human Capital practice.

My background working within nonprofits caused a bit of an identity crisis in deciding to enter business school—I continually questioned whether I was allowing myself to become a “heartless capitalist.” But, when I found the TFC and learned about its mission surrounding using market forces to alleviate poverty, I knew it would be an oasis for me within the hectic environment of business school. I’m so excited to be serving in this role on the TFC Programming Board and educating other students on all the opportunities available through the TFC and the issues that the TFC and its partners strive to address every day.

Nasser Mallouky

Project Pyramid Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Nasser Mallouky

Project Pyramid Chair

Carolyn Williams

Social Enterprise Consulting Chair

MBA '20

Bio

Carolyn Williams

Social Enterprise Consulting Chair

I am a MBA student at the Owen Graduate School of Management, concentrating in strategy & operations. Business school is a pivot point for me as I make a transition from the nonprofit sector to the for-profit world after graduation. Prior to Owen, I worked at nonprofit organizations in Chicago that pursued missions for educational attainment or health.

The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures (TFC) is an opportunity for me to couple my nonprofit background with my business interest to create sustainable solutions that improve the globe or local communities. My personal motivation is creating lasting impact through working with others and the opportunities offered through the TFC have already influenced the kind of leader I aim to become in my future career.

Even in just one year, I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve been fortunate to work on a social enterprise consulting team helping our client to expand new markets, research and design measurement strategies that will support the growth of TFC programming and the organization as a whole, and work with wonderful leaders on the board and partners within the community.  In my role as the Social Enterprise Consulting Chair, I will continue Amna’s important work on this course, which was offered for-credit for the first time this year, and continue to grow its value to students across disciplines.

Lauren Schmidt

Branding and Marketing Chair

Peabody - Human Development Studies '20

Bio

Lauren Schmidt

Branding and Marketing Chair

I am a graduate student in the Human Development Studies M.Ed. program. From a young age, I’ve always had a passion for connection and creating opportunities to better understand how we all engage in the world. Throughout my experiences in research, student development, and the non-profit sector, I’ve worked with vulnerable populations who are largely impacted by complex social problems. I feel that there are many ways we can improve the lack of equity found in every part of the world. I find value in examining issues systematically and subsequently critically analyzing where needs are not being met. My involvement at the TFC has allowed me to explore what can occur at the intersection of business and social change. In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to expand my worldview and mindsets by working with individuals from diverse graduate programs across campus. The TFC empowers individuals to better understand themselves, examine the value of impact, and create opportunities to invest in the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations. I am grateful to serve as a board member for the 2019-2020 year! I hope to continue to promote our brand identity, create awareness, and engage in outreach with our community. I look forward to advocating and developing ways for students to better comprehend the challenges and opportunities that social ventures serve in our communities, and beyond.

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.

MEET OUR PARTNERS