Alumni Engagement:

As an alumnus of Vanderbilt and a former participant in the social ventures community here, you have unique stories, experiences and feedback. As part of our larger effort to increase alumni participation, we would like to hear back from you. We would greatly appreciate it if you’d answer the following questions:

FRIENDS OF THE TFC!

Dia Chakraborty

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management '18

Bio

Dia Chakraborty

Position: Analyst at Skoll Foundation, Portfolio, and Investments

Which TFC Programs did you participate in?

Hult case Competition; Treks; Project Pyramid; TFC Board Member

Why would encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

TFC gives you wide exposure into the world of social entrepreneurships and the power of collective vision and problem solving. I found it a melting pot of thoughtful and passionate individuals from across the world. I doubt any such platform exists within the Vanderbilt community where your experiences have so much real time value addition. I would encourage every single incoming student to engage with the center at some capacity.

P.S: I met my current employer through the TFC Annual Summit!

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

When I joined Vanderbilt, TFC brought me to the world of Social Entrepreneurship and the power of using business to solve some of the worlds most pressing problems. 2 years later, I am working in a philanthropic organization that invests in social entrepreneurs who are driving real changes at the grassroots level. Different projects within TFC prepared me for the role of a generalist who can look at complex problems objectively and work towards a constructive solution.

Fatima Jamil Khan

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management '18

Bio

Fatima Jamil Khan

Position: Senior Program Associate – NOWPDP (Network of Organizations Working with Persons with Disabilities Pakistan)

Which TFC Programs did you participate in?

Project Pyramid and TFC Summit

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the TFC?

There were a couple of things that really stuck with me through my TFC experience.
1. Failure is an opportunity for one to learn.
2. If you feel strongly about something, you should have the confidence make a case and defend it.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

Currently, I am working at NOWPDP, which is a disability inclusion initiative in Pakistan. I am leading a team that is responsible to promote inclusivity in different angles of education. This experience currently is helping me organize my diverse team of differently-abled persons, figure out their strengths and apply those strengths in different projects that come under my program

Grace Fletcher De Niear

MPH Global Health & M.A. Latin American Studies '17

Bio

Grace Fletcher De Niear

Position: One Drop

Which TFC Programs did you participate in?

All of them — I was on the TFC Programming Board and then served as the Graduate Assistant for the TFC.

How did these experiences impact your career path?

In so many ways! I developed new skills, got exposed to how business can have an impact on the topics I care about (social science and global health), and learned from some incredible people.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the TFC?

I’m not sure I learned a lesson from the TFC, but I did learn a lot about myself, what I have to offer, and how to put that into practice in the real world.

Maryum Gul

M.A. Graduate Program in Economic Development '18

Bio

Maryum Gul

Position: Data Analyst at Teach for All

Which TFC Programs did you participate in?

Hult Prize, Project Pyramid

What was the most valuable lesson you learned through the TFC?

Bringing together all that I had learnt in graduate school with real world issues – basically connecting the dots.

Would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

Definitely – You must. It is an integral part of graduate school especially if you are looking to work in the development/ social entrepreneurship space.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

Dealing with multiple stakeholders across different timelines with varied expectations: crux of Project pyramid and my current role.

Michael Baker

M.A. International Education Policy and Management '18

Bio

Michael Baker

Position: EAB – Strategic Leader

Which TFC programs did you participate in?

Hult Prize, Project Pyramid, SEc

How did theses experiences shape your career path? 

Project Pyramid helped provide me experience working as a consultant with various teams and groups of people outside of my background and area of expertise. Using hypothesis-based thinking, and gaining experience in the for-profit world, were critical from SEc. Also, Hult Prize helped me work on pitching and presenting in front of larger groups of people.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the TFC?

The most valuable lesson I learned was realizing that, regardless of your background, and where you exist in the world, you can find ways to contribute, and also that people around the world share more similarities than differences when it comes to community development.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

I currently work with deans, provosts, and other academic leaders on student success initiatives. Given the level of academic leadership that I engage with on a regular basis, TFC helped me nail down my “elevator pitches”– speak confidently and personally to thought leaders of education, and to always ask questions first before jumping to conclusions.

Michael Woodnorth

MBA '18

Bio

Michael Woodnorth

Current Position: Woodnorth  Advisory

Which TFC programs did you participate in?

Social Enterprise Consulting, Project Pyramid, treks, programming board, Fellows, Hult Prize, Summit. I think everything.

How did these experiences impact your career path?

If you take full advantage of your time with the TFC, you can get exposure to everything you need to decide whether or not you want to work in the impact space. I did a consulting project for a financial services firm trying to get into impact investing, another project for a social enterprise with international operations, had a fellowship with the largest national funder of impact investments and jumped on planes to meet with over 40 other impact investors in 4 different cities. The TFC supported all of those endeavors and it gave me the experience and network needed to have a job that sits at the intersection of social enterprise and impact investing.

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

Because if you don’t, you’ll be missing out on an incredible opportunity to be unlike the other people in your program. The way things currently are and the systems currently in place being taught to the rest of the people in your program aren’t really working out for the billions of people living in poverty. The TFC is a place that welcomes challengers to the way things are and offers you opportunities to meet the people trying to figure out a better system that works for the marginalized.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

I learned about the various social impact career opportunities through programming around impact investing, nonprofit, social enterprise, etc. and was also taught the value of networking

 

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn here.

Eileen Remley

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management, '17

Bio

Eileen Remley

Position: Merchant at Walmart

Which TFC Programs did you participate in? 

Programming Board Chair, Hult Prize, Project Pyramid, Social Enterprise Consulting, Nashville Trek, Summer Fellowship

How did these experiences shape your career path?

The TFC helped me solidify my interests in cross disciplinary studies, enabling me to pursue a career path outside of education. I loved working at the intersection of health, education, and business and realized how important it is to apply skills across those disciplines to problem solving. Realized I had a stronger interest in business, I chose to pursue a next step that would strengthen those skills.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the TFC?

The importance of interdisciplinary practice in complex problem solving. The TFC always brought together diverse individuals in background, acumen, and future goals. It was always such a good lesson to work together and shape new ideas with different people.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

The TFC leadership experience and navigation of diverse opinions really enabled me to help lead a team. With its fast paced environment and every changing needs I really learned how to adapt quickly and run lean. I also felt empowered to really tackle new skills and have found thats really aided me in taking on complex projects.

Hattie Duplechain

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management '16

Bio

Hattie Duplechain

Position: Associate Director of Research & Evaluation at Ashoka U

Which TFC Programs did you participate in?

I was a member of TFC’s founding programming board in 2015-2016. I also participated in Project Pyramid in the spring of 2015 and was Director of Curriculum in 2015-2016.

Why would encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

There are so many different ways to work in and contribute to the social sector. The work of managing your own social venture will feel really different on a day to day basis than, say, leading impact evaluation work within a social sector organization.

TFC offers a great opportunity to explore the many ways you can harness the knowledge and skills you are building at Vanderbilt and scope a career path that is both aligned with your values and a good personal fit.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

As a part of Ashoka U, Ashoka’s higher education initiative, I work with colleges and universities that are establishing social impact education like what TFC offers for Vanderbilt students.

Through my work with TFC, I gained directly relevant experience in what it means to create and grow social entrepreneurship and social innovation education. I draw on what I learned with TFC every day!

Brandon Kieffer

MBA '19

Bio

Brandon Kieffer

Position: Associate Brand Manager at Amplify Snack Brands

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Project Pyramid, Social Enterprise Consulting, TFC Programming Board Member, Treks, TFC Summit

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

You will not find another organization like this on campus. It brings together some of the sharpest minds across schools all congregating around discussing and finding solutions to some of the biggest social challenges in our world and community. You can easily stay within the lane of the college you are in with like mindsets, but the true value of the TFC is having that challenged by someone with a completely different perspective.  You will find yourself questioning your own biases and assumptions all with the underlying motive of trying to do some good in this world. Additionally, if you raise your hand, you will have the opportunity to lead teams across disciplines which creates a unique experience that will develop your leadership skills in a refreshingly challenging way.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

I could write a novel about this, but I can boil it down to two simple themes: dynamic leadership experience & critical thinking development. The TFC gave me the most dynamic leadership opportunities on campus. During interviews, I often found myself leveraging my TFC experience over any other. It challenged me to be more open-minded to divergent ways of thinking and improve my communication skills by taking concepts and translating them to appeal to different groups. The critical thinking piece was developed by always being challenged to look beyond the surface. Don’t just focus on the problem and the solution, but what is the ripple effect of your solution? Does it create unintentional consequences or influence a different behavior? Is it sustainable? Are you solving the real root of the problem or simply mending a symptom? These types of questions are not uncommon with TFC debates and helps you develop a more robust problem solving skill set by encouraging intentional critical thinking.

Ann Dunlap

M.Ed. '17, Leadership and Organizational Performance

Bio

Ann Dunlap

Current Employer: Amazon.com

What TFC Programming did you participate in? Social Enterprise Consulting

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

Getting involved in the TFC will help you broaded you thinking, particularly in the ways you approach problem solving. Working together with students from other disciplines  forces you to look at a problem from many angles, many of which you may not have considered before.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

The TFC helped advance my critical thinking and presentation skills, both of which are essential in my current role. It also instilled in me the importance of considering the business case (i.e. making a financial argument goes a long way to support your ideas).

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

Andreas Guentner

MBA '18 – HOP, Strategy, Operations Concentration

Bio

Andreas Guentner

Current Employer: Mars Inc.

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

I led the Memphis Trek in December 2016. We went to Memphis and talked to non-profits and corporations like International Paper or AutoZone about the work they do to make the city a more equal and better place for its citizens.

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

The work the TFC does keeps Owen and its students grounded. To me, the TFC is that counter-balance to the otherwise focused preparation of students for the corporate world. It really helped me putting things into perspective and recognizing how fortunate I am and how a majority of the world, it may even be just a couple miles down the road, is not in the same position of fortune.

We worked on making a socio-economic impact locally and globally. I really loved it, because the center presented opportunities to apply the knowledge and experience I gained during my studies to organizations that worked towards benefiting society and making the world a better place. I am aware that this sounds extremely “cliché,” and to some it might be. However, I strongly believe that the TFC’s programming has made me a better person, leader, and teammate; not just professionally, but also privately.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

I gained a massive amount of self-awareness through my work with the TFC. This, in turn, made me realize what kind of corporation I want to work for post MBA and helped me narrow my options. Additionally, through the work, and the gained self-awareness, I just became a more effective leader.

Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Stephen Songy

MBA '10

Bio

Stephen Songy

Current Employer: Sagemont Real Estate

What TFC Programming did you participate in?  

Project Pyramid class, Project Pyramid Leadership Board, Cal Turner Fellowship, Bangladesh Spring Break Trip, Guatemala Spring Break Trip

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?  

As a cross functional organization, it’s a great way to meet others outside your school and area of expertise who can provide a different perspective on social issues. I was able to work with students and faculty of the law school, medical school, divinity school, Peabody, and engineering school on various projects.  I’m also a fan of project-based learning.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position

Much of our project work involved leveraging the power of social enterprise to bring about positive changes in communities. To do so, this requires a creative approach to problem solving and a willingness to think on a much broader scale. This experience has emboldened me to think differently in my current position, and to be open to taking on more ambitious projects for the right reasons.

At the same time, TFC taught me humility to recognize that major social issues cannot easily or quickly fixed, and that failure within our projects was OK.  This experience gave me a great level of comfort in pursuing ventures where success is not certain.

Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Santiago Peralta

M.Ed. Leadership and Organizational Performance ‘20

Bio

Santiago Peralta

Company: US Army

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Project Pyramid

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

The TFC is a gold mine for anyone interested in learning and connecting with folks with similar ambitions to lead or assist in social ventures.
The faculty and staff are experts in their field and they are very dedicated to ensure you really get the most out of the program(s) you join.
In addition, the networking opportunities are unmatched, as you will make many friends and expand your professional network with not just smart people, but smart people with great hearts!
How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?
The TFC will foremost prepare you as a leader; You will learn how to approach hard social problems and learn to ask the hard questions necessary to find the right solutions.
You will also develop the ability to see things from many different perspectives, as you will have the opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary group of amazing minds from very diverse backgrounds.
Connect with him on Linked in here.

Rachel Kneepkens

MBA '20

Bio

Rachel Kneepkens

Current Employer: Optum

What TFC Programming did you participate in? Project Pyramid, TFC Summit, TFC Partnerships Committee, Social Enterprise Consulting Committee, Hult Prize Case Competition

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

The TFC Is a great way to get to know other graduate students across campus, extending your network and working with interdisciplinary teams. The TFC also offers many exciting opportunities to put what you’re learning into the classroom into practice in the “real world” because there are so many hands-on opportunities to get involved within the community. And the best part of it all, is the mission behind the organization and the projects the TFC decides to take on. You can build practical skills, while making a meaningful difference in the local Nashville community and the world.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

My experiences with the TFC helped to build critical thinking skills and thoughtfully evaluate the impact of the decisions I’m making. There are specific frameworks that were introduced through Project Pyramid and SEC that I am using in my current position at Optum as I evaluate new product development opportunities (the primary one being the Lean Business Model Canvas)! Project Pyramid and Hult also helped me to learn the importance of taking the time to get to know the strengths of everyone within your team and leverage them. I saw first-hand how much more effective we were as a group when we did this well, and that’s something I am definitely carrying forward as I move into leadership roles at Optum. \

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

Cali Livingstone

MBA '20, Operations & Analytics, International Business

Bio

Cali Livingstone

Current Employer: LUCI

What TFC Programming did you participate in? 
The list is long… during my first year I participated in the following:
-1Y Immersion Treks Board Member, leading the Gentrification in Nashville Trek, the Civil Rights History and Economic Development Trek in Marion, Alabama, and From Coal to Green Trek in Grundy County, TN.
– Hult regional competitor
– TFC Summit – Learning from Failure
– Project Pyramid – Ethiopia for ABLE
– Skoll World Forum at Oxford UniversityMy second year of Owen I was the TFC Board Chair – so needless to say, it was my whole life… I supported our the board leadership in revamping our social media and website, delivering Hult and Summit, developing a fundraising strategy (that Ryan launched and I’m thrilled to see you are carrying on!), and I led a reorg for the TFC board structure with the goal of flattening out the structure and making it more action-oriented. I also led the transition between boards during COVID and identified TFC partners willing to take on summer interns in TFC’s effort to connect students who had lost their internship opportunities due to COVID. AND I painted the mural in the coffee shop!

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?
I would recommend TFC to any graduate student that comes to Vanderbilt because TFC helped me to engage with that very elusive and difficult question of what my purpose is in life. It is so effective in this because of its interdisciplinary approach. As I wrestled with ideas and opportunities for the various direction I might take my life, I felt as though, as a business student, if I could identify a solution that then resonated with education, engineering, law, and medical graduates, that then I really might have been onto something! TFC stretched my patterns of thinking. And while TFC has a strong international lens, it also exposed me to parts of the American South – an area of the world I knew very little about before moving to Nashville – that you really can’t access on campus.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?
I think a lot of programs in graduate schools promote developing leaders but my experience is that these programs can only deliver in a theoretical sense.  TFC let me lead. It let me “get on the balcony” and steer the ship. It let me feel the strength, opportunity, confusion, frustration, loneliness, growth, and ownership that comes with being a leader. Through managing others’ expectations, varied perspectives, and personal development, TFC let me see just how hard it can be to lift up your head to define a strategy and try to implement it. At the end of the academic year, my team and I reflected on our missed goals and on our (longer list) of real accomplishments and it felt amazing to know that those belonged to us!

I now work for a small health tech start-up bringing to market a smart wheelchair device that has already been recognized by Popular Science and Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2020. As a small start-up I am still in a role where I am defining our distribution strategy, implementing it, realizing how much we still need to learn and constantly grappling with questions about what is best and accepting what is good enough for the moment. TFC gave me the experience to feel comfortable in these moments. And I am very grateful for my 2019-2020 board, and to Mario, Kathleen, and Megan for providing a reliable backbone in all our work.

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

Elizabeth Welliver Hengen

Master of Theological Studies '20

Bio

Elizabeth Welliver Hengen

Current Employer: Conexión Américas

What TFC Programming did you participate in?: Lunch and learn with the TFC and the Wendland-Cook Program, career advising with the TFC

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

The TFC is a remarkable network of people, organizations, and communities to deepen your knowledge and capacity to make a social impact in the Nashville community and internationally. You can find mentors in your field who are doing purposeful and meaningful work, and who will challenge you to center and partner with the grassroots leaders, entrepreneurs, and affected communities already working for change.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

The TFC prepared me to develop my vision for market-driven change as a non-profit professional. In my role, I foster relationships and cultivate opportunities for corporate partners to support Conexión Américas’ mission and work, including our microenterprise development programs for immigrant entrepreneurs. I am grateful that the TFC helped to equip me with the language and skills to advocate for systemic change and to work with colleagues and organizational partners from diverse backgrounds.

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

Emily Sheldon

Master of Public Health, Global Health '16

Bio

Emily Sheldon

Current EmployerAfrican Health Innovation Centre

What TFC Programming did you participate in?
Advisory Board, Programming Board, Project Pyramid, Hult Prize Case Competition

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?
The TFC provides a unique opportunity for graduate and professional students from throughout the Vanderbilt campus to come together over a shared interest in poverty alleviation. It teaches different academic fields to respect and learn from each other, while providing all involved a crash course in innovation, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking. If you’re interested in strategizing about new ways to improve social outcomes, the TFC is the place for you

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?
I co-founded AHIC with my friend and colleague Freda Yawson after three years of serving as the Director of Health Innovation for Impact Hub Accra, a role I was offered while in Ghana with my Project Pyramid team in 2016. During that period, I also had the privilege to spend a year in a second, sector-agnostic role as the Africa Regional Lead for the global Impact Hub network. This experience allowed me to grow core innovation, strategy, and community-building skills beyond the arena of public health, and to help grow Impact Hub’s presence in Africa from three to 10 locations. Since finishing my time at Vandy and the TFC I’ve traveled to over 20 different countries, worked with entrepreneurs from five continents, and mentored 50+ young innovators. Not only did the TFC equip me with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in this work, but it gave me access to a networking opportunity that transformed my career path.

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

Megan Ames

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management '14

Bio

Megan Ames

Current Employer: Human Resources & Communications Manager at Concordian International School in Bangkok, Thailand

What TFC Programming did you participate in? Project Pyramid (Board Member, Public Relations Director)

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC? You’ll make lifelong connections and surprise yourself! I went to my first Project Pyramid meeting thinking it probably wasn’t for me but I ended up joining the leadership team and staying involved throughout my time and Vanderbilt.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position: It gave me the opportunity to learn alongside and work on projects with people whose perspectives and professional backgrounds were quite different to my own. Our shared values enabled us to work together as a team towards a common objective.

Connect with her via her LinkedIn here.

Sahesha Upadhyay

Graduate Program in Economic Development (GPED) 2019

Bio

Sahesha Upadhyay

Role/Current Employer: Data and Policy Analyst, The Sphere Institute, Washington D.C.
What TFC Programming did you participate in?

TFC trek, TFC Summit, TFC Summer Fellowship, Project Pyramid.

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

TFC is a great platform for experiential learning and for connecting with individuals working in the space of social ventures and impact both inside and outside Vanderbilt. The multidisciplinary aspect of TFC can greatly enhance your graduate studies experience.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position

As someone with a keen interest in the area of social ventures, TFC was the perfect space for me to further build my expertise and also to connect with other individuals who shared this interest.  My internship experience at Ashoka as a TFC fellow was a valuable part of my career in the development sector. The continuous mentorship and professional development opportunities provided by TFC were definitely very helpful for preparing me for my current role

Connect with her via her LinkedIn here.

Andrew Mitchell

MBA, (Human and Organizational Performance) '19

Bio

Andrew Mitchell

Current Employer – Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

What TFC Programming did you participate in? – Social Enterprise Consulting, Treks, Lunch & Learns, 2018-2019 Board – Education and Careers Chair

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?
I initially got involved with the TFC as a means to connect with a group of like-minded people who care deeply about social impact issues. I stayed involved because of the depth and richness of opportunities I was able to get involved in. From consulting with local Nashville organizations, to developing Lunch & Learn sessions for my peers focusing on social issues, I had the opportunity to make a real impact during my time at Owen. I had had a chance to get outside of the Owen “bubble” and meet amazing peers from all over Vanderbilt’s campus – that is reason enough to get involved with the TFC!

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position
The biggest thing the TFC prepared me to do was confidently lead in any scenario. By giving me a voice and an opportunity to engage early in my MBA experience, I was able to take all of the theoretical ideas I was learning in class and immediately apply them. Whether working with cross-functional teams, navigating ambiguous client scenarios, or developing programming that was inclusive and impactful, I am better today at what I do (and in general) because of the experiences I had while involved with the TFC.

Connect with him via LinkedIn here

Lauren Schmidt

M.Ed. Human Development Studies ‘20

Bio

Lauren Schmidt

Role: Denver, CO, working for an Education Management company helping to launch and manage online graduate programs.

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Project Pyramid, Academic and Experience Committee Member, TFC Executive Board Member, Emerging Impact Leaders Fellow, Social Impact Certificate Creation

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

First, the center promotes connection and collaboration through the interdisciplinary structure of the organization. This allows students the opportunity to experience and learn from other perspectives, backgrounds, and skills. Second, the student-led nature of the TFC encourages developing leaders to grow personally and professionally. From board members to event attendees, each individual is given the opportunity to expand their worldview and learn about how to face complex problems. In addition, alleviating poverty through market-driven forces and enterprises empowers students to draw from diverse industries and think systematically about approaching social issues. Lastly, the community you build within the TFC will fill you with inspiration and so much JOY!

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

The TFC compelled me to ask more questions than to answer them. (Never let the curiosity in you disappear!) I learned the art of problem solving and the importance of human difference. My two years at the TFC gave me the confidence to innovate a strategy, implement it and then analyze the causal sequence. I sat in discomfort knowing that major social and environmental issues could not and will not be easily fixed, and that failure is part of the process. Failure meant that you are one step closer to the positive impact you are working towards. At work, I challenge myself and my team to conceptualize problems abstractly and continue to develop effective ways to create change that lasts, as our work is ever-evolving and never perfected.

Connect with her via her LinkedIn here.

Katherine Burns

M.Ed. International Education Policy and Management '18

Bio

Katherine Burns

Current Employer and Position:Candena GmbH, Instructional Systems Designer | Quality Assurance Manager 

What TFC Programming did you participate in?: Project Pyramid, Social Enterprise Consulting, TFC Summit, Hult Prize, TFC Partnerships, Career and Education Committee  

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC? TFC offers a truly integrated portfolio of opportunities, where multiple disciplines have to come together and occupy a shared space. Project Pyramid, Social Enterprise Consulting, Hult Prize and more are real tests of how to think innovatively and collaboratively with others for a common purpose. To not take advantage of these consistent and practical applications of one’s academic and work experience would be a mistake for anyone looking to do work with social impact. It’s also a space where you can instantly grow your network and be connected to a range of organizations and businesses. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that these networks are possibly the most valuable resource you can leave a program with. 

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position: On a daily basis, I’m liaising between teams with very different backgrounds and areas of expertise; in a typical meeting, I am speaking with a medical professional, a teacher, a product developer, and an operations manager, all problem-solving in the online medical education space. My experience through TFC prepared me for managing these conversations, learning to listen, and developing and communicating solutions that address the varied needs of our stakeholders.  

Bereket Embiale

 Hubert H. Humphery Fellow 2017-18: Education administration, planning, and policy

Bio

Bereket Embiale

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

My work and career are strongly connected to education. In 2013 I founded a training and consulting company called Think Africa. Think Africa provided training and consulting services to the education sector in Ethiopia. My experience as a teacher and the subsequent specializations in thinking skills development helped me reaching numerous schools and teachers in Ethiopia. As a result, I was awarded Hubert H. Humphery Fellowship at Peabody College in 2017-2018. I had three objectives coming to Peabody. Understanding education at the policy level, understanding social entrepreneurship(this is because I had limited understanding about it but my company was a social enterprise), and meeting companies with similar business models. my first objective was fulfilled through courses I took at Peabody but to meet the other two I was looking at organizations. That is when I was recommended to visit TFC and met Mario Avila. Mario continued to be my mentor throughout my internship and gave me valuable ideas on how I could promote my business. At TFC, I found excellent books to read, participated in Hult Prize, took part assisted Project Pyramid while in the university as well as back in Ethiopia with visiting students, took social entrepreneurship course, and provided with several opportunities to meet with other social entrepreneurs in Nashville.  

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

TFC is an ideal place for aspiring social entrepreneurs. You find like-minded leadership, students, and excellent resources to make your aspiration a reality. 

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

 TFC helped me clarify my understanding of social entrepreneurship and helped me and my business to be positioned better. 

Paul Finelli

MBA ' 17

Bio

Paul Finelli

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Member of the TFC Programming Board, TFC Summit Chair 

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC? 

The TFC is a great way to expand your horizons while in school. It gives every student an opportunity to learn about diverse disciplines whether it be education, economic development, the financial industry, or others. It also allows you to see how you can work within these areas to achieve social and environmental goals. 

 How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

Currently, I am on a Corporate Synergy team that requires a lot of cross-functional work. The Turner Family Center gave me countless opportunities to work with cross-functional and diverse thinkers. This helped to improve my collaboration skills and see the clear benefits of developing solutions with diverse teams. 

 Interests as they relate to leveraging the marketplace to better the world: 

Interested in job creation and skills development to enable new professional opportunities. 

Ermias Berhe

MBA

Bio

Ermias Berhe

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Project Pyramid (WelCommon – Greece), Hult Prize Competition (Regional Competitor), Social Ventures Summit

 Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?  

3 reasons: First, if you are interested in building a career in the Social Ventures world or just curious to learn about the social enterprise industry, there is no better center on campus than TFC. Second, you will meet students with various backgrounds and build great relationships. Immersive programs like Project Pyramid will put you in a unique environment, where you will depend on your peers to navigate a country you might have never been before while building a case for your client. Last, you will boost your social enterprise industry knowledge like how Patagonia is different from Warby Parker (Social Enterprise Spectrum), how to think about poverty, etc.

 How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position? 

TFC pushed me to be more comfortable in the face of ambiguity and establish trust, which came in handy as I started my current role back in July 2020. Although I haven’t had the chance to meet my colleagues in person due to the pandemic, I leveraged the skills to position myself for success. Moreover, TFC leadership helped me navigate the recruiting process by leveraging their extensive professional networks and relationships.

Suzanne Quon

M.Ed International Education Policy & Management

Bio

Suzanne Quon

What TFC Programming did you participate in?

Project Pyramid (as student and staff!) 

 Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?

The TFC is a great resource for networking and learning about opportunities that intersect the fields of for-profit and non-profit work. It’s a wonderful place to take part in educational treks, lectures, and other activities related to social enterprise and entrepreneurship that would be hard to find elsewhere. It’s also just a fantastic place to meet people outside of your discipline at Vandy.  

 How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?

Through TFC’s Project Pyramid I was able to consult first hand with a non-profit organization in Nicaragua called Thriive. Our project was to help assess the impact of various microlending programs. My current position now consists of project management for surgical societies where I help push projects through for surgeons all across the US. Much of my job now also encompasses evaluation of impact for educational programs. The multidisciplinary environment at the TFC also exposed me to different methods of thinking which certainly applies to working with surgeons who have a vastly different background. 

 

 

Bhanu Nuthakki

M.S. Finance

Bio

Bhanu Nuthakki

What TFC Programming did you participate in? 

Hult, MIINT, Lunch & Learns 

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?  

TFC was a great way to get exposed to the numerous ways through which enterprises can systematically pursue goals beyond just the bottom line. The many activities and programs offered by TFC are a great foray into the world of social entrepreneurship that everyone could benefit from and apply to their careers regardless of the type or size of enterprise they join or create. TFC and the people I had the opportunity to interact with through TFC were some of the best things about attending Owen. 

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position 

TFC programming helped me learn and develop frameworks for evaluating the impact that an enterprise is having on the world. While my employer is not a “social enterprise”, I would have chosen my job differently if I didn’t think the work that we’re doing at Plaid can significantly improve the financial lives of millions of people. TFC played a large part in helping augment and nurture my interest in finding a fulfilling position through which I could positively impact the people around me and the world through my work.