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Social Enterprise Alumni

Social Enterprise Alumni

Congratulations to our graduates!

Nick Boedicker | Auburn, NY

Nick Boedicker

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Georgetown University, B.A. English/Spanish, 2006

Pre-AU employment: Handicap International, Finger Lakes Migrant Health Care Project 

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Post-AU Employment: Founder and Managing Director, Strategic Good

Career interest: Creating economic opportunities and promoting innovation and good business practices in the developing world; sustainable funding solutions for NGOs.

“I joined the Social Enterprise Program at American University because of the unique opportunity it provides to learn practical business skills and then apply them to international development. I’ve been particularly impressed with my classmates and with the breadth of courses to choose from in the School of International Service and Kogod School of Business. It’s also been exciting to work with local NGOs and social enterprises in Washington, DC as part of my coursework.”  

Kate Burke | Santa Barbara, CA

Kate Burke

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Westmont College, B.A. International Studies with emphasis in Latin American Studies, 1995

Pre-AU employment: Administrative Manager and Human Resources at PricewaterhouseCoopers, DAS Management, CCCU

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise Internships/work while at AU: Working Minds at Carson J Spencer Foundation and Consulting at Marq Energie

Post-AU employment: Associate Director, Partnership for Workplace Mental Health at American Psychiatric Foundation

Career interest: Capacity building and creating mentally healthy workplaces to sustain contributing leaders and teams. Partnerships and dialogue across all sectors to maximize the benefits of each.

"A distinct appeal of AU's Social Enterprise masters program is that it resides in the School of International Service. Another is that the program allows for coursework across the campus and disciplines. These factors exhibit in practical ways what Social Entrepreneurs accomplish in the field - breaking down and cooperating across barriers. I have the opportunity to practice in academia what I want to see more in business, whether for or not-for-profit; namely, joint efforts using business knowledge, policy expertise and cultural sensitivity to effect transformational change for social good."

Practicum project: "Improving Workplace Mental Health".

Federico A. de Jesús | San Juan, Puerto Rico

Federico de Jesus

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: American University, B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics & Government (CLEG), 2001

Pre-AU employment: Obama-Biden 2008 Presidential Campaign & Transition Office, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Office, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Office, Congressman Eliot Engel’s Office, former Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner in Congress Aníbal Acevedo Vilá’s Office, and other public, private and political experiences.

Work while at AU: Associate Director for Governmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Transportation, Deputy Executive Director, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration- PRFFA

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Post-AU employment: Independent consultant working on strategic communications, government relations, social enterprise solutions and more.

Career interest: Use of social enterprise solutions to advance socioeconomic change through innovations in policymaking, consulting, advocacy and other public interest ventures.

“When I learned about the cutting edge vision, the multi-faceted courses, the practical focus and the service philosophy behind AU’s M.A. in Social Enterprise, I knew that if I was serious about taking my public service career to the next level, this was an opportunity I could not afford to miss.”


Thuy Dinh | Hanoi, Vietnam

Thuy Dinh

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, B.A International Relations, 2009

Pre-AU employment: Co-founder of YESE; Communication and Advocacy Intern at Oxfam; Case studies Consultant at Oxfam

Work while at AU: Graduate Assistant, Social Enterprise Program, American University; Graduate intern – TechnoServe

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise - International Development, Poverty Alleviation

Post-AU employment: Communications Coordinator, Initiative for Global Development; Grameen Foundation; Project H.E.A.R

Career interest: Market-based solutions to poverty alleviation, Social innovations in International Development, Cross-sector collaboration for poverty alleviation

"I chose the M.A in Social Enterprise program out of my other International Development program options because I was attracted to the multi-disciplinary and practitioner-oriented aspect of the degree. My passion has always been particularly in poverty alleviation, and the new mindset of social entrepreneurship intimated a number of prospective solutions to the problem in Vietnam and around the world. The program perfectly blends my passion for change in poverty alleviation with my interest in social innovations and social entrepreneurship. I hope it will help me to contribute to the more efficiency of the non-profit sector and scaling up its impacts in poverty alleviation efforts.”

Practicum project: "Using Participatory Filmmaking To Give Women A Voice In Their Economic Development".

Brad Fisher | Orlean, VA

Brad Fisher

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Mary Washington College, B.A. International Affairs, 2009

Pre-AU Employment: Co-founder and operator, Virginia Wine Bottling Co LLC, Corporate Relations Intern, Grameen Foundation, Field Intern, Partnership for Tunisian Economic Development.

Work while at AU: Consulting with Cause, a social enterprise-based bar, and Snack Packers; Social Enterprise Faculty, Summerfuel

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Career Interests: Microfinance, empowering women, small business and entrepreneurial development, particularly in North Africa, and not becoming a corporate drone.

“Having experience both in the for-profit and non-profit world, and seeking to combine the two, the SE program was a natural match for me. Having been an entrepreneur, I wanted to use the skill-set I'd gained to help others, and the SE program gives me the tools to do just that.”

Adrienne Gifford | Pittsburgh, PA

Adrienne Gifford

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: American University, B.S. B.A International Finance, 2002

Pre-AU employment: Herren Associates, Booz Allen Hamilton

Work while at AU: Consulting engagements with World Vision International and City Blossoms, a Washington, DC non-profit

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise, Concentration: International Development, Impact Investing

“As a practitioner-focused program, AU’s M.A. in Social Enterprise enables me to leverage my consulting and business experience in new and important ways. I strongly believe in the power of business to change and transform lives and in the potential for commercial best practices to be leveraged in new and innovative ways in the social sector. The SE program provides me with the knowledge, understanding, practical application, and network to contribute to a new field in which business can be a vehicle to help alleviate poverty and many other of the world’s greatest social challenges.”

Amy Gillespie | Los Angeles, CA

Amy Gillespie

Degree: Tulane University, B.A. Political Science and International Human Rights, 2009

Pre-AU employment: Active Entertainment, Millennium Films, Marcia Miller Jewelry collection, Tulane University, Logoyourself.com, American University

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Post-AU employment: Events Manager, School of International Service, American University

Career interest: Cross-sector partnerships, corporate social responsibility, arts based youth advocacy, and mentorship programs.

“I chose American University’s M.A. program in Social Enterprise because I was prepared to actively participate in an environment of like-minded individuals, supporting and contributing one another’s career goals for the common purpose of creating enterprises that will better the world. I was searching for a degree program that understood the benefits of collaboration, and I was interested in contributing to a program where action was expected. AU’s Social Enterprise program spoke to my desire to create, grow, and expand upon social enterprise; and it has now given me the opportunity to think up innovative solutions to old models of thought, while also being able to encourage and support high-impact entrepreneurial talent.”

Practicum project: "Do Good Images"

Jennifer Hartzell | Elk Grove, IL

Jennifer Hartzell

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Yale University, B.A. Anthropology, 2009

Pre-AU employment: University Partnerships and Operations Coordinator, Ashoka's Youth Venture

Work while at AU: University Partnerships Coordinator, Ashoka's Youth Venture

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise 

Post AU employment: Teacher, Success Academy Charter Schools

Career interest: Education reform, Sustainability

"I came to AU's Social Enterprise program because of an interest in practical application and skill development with a cross-sector approach. Its location in Washington, D.C., a city bursting with innovative potential and a hub for social change has also been an incredible boon."

Practicum project: "Starting a Social Enterprise to Lower the Barriers to Becoming Green"

Jeremy Jensen | Salt Lake City, UT

Jeremy Jensen

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Kogod School of Business, American University, MBA with a concentration in consulting/entrepreneurship, 2013 and University of Utah, BA Spanish Literature, 2006

Pre-AU employment: General Management in Outdoor Equipment and Apparel Industry, International Trade Officer for Economic Development Office – State of Utah, Project Manager for sustainability architecture firm.

Work while at AU: Product development and new market strategy for a tech startup called CoFoundersLab

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise
Concentration: Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Consulting

Post-AU employment: Strategy Consultant, CSC

“I applied to the SE Program at AU because I am captivated by ecosystems that harness the collective energy of innovators and change-makers focused on market-driven solutions for social impact. My goal is to create a for-profit social enterprise in the active outdoor-lifestyle and adventure travel industry. The Masters of Social Enterprise Program will help me achieve this goal. Particularly at this point in my career, because it will expose me to the diverse set of perspectives, ideas, and people that constitutes the Social Enterprise community.”

Practicum project: "Starting a Social Enterprise to Build Communities of Activists in the Outdoor Sports and Lifestyle Industry"

Amanda Lotz | Augusta, NJ

Amanda Lotz

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: American University School of International Service, B.A. International Studies, 2011

Pre-AU Employment: Faison Enterprises

Work while at AU: Program Coordinator, Accion International

Degree program and concentration: M.A. Social Enterprise

Career interest: Poverty alleviation and increased access to entrepreneurial education in emerging markets, while identifying the uniqueness of culture in each community.

“As an undergraduate at AU, I developed a theoretical and analytical perspective for evaluating cases relevant to International Studies. From this experience, I knew that the professors were of a high caliber and engaged in the livelihood of their students. I considered M.P.A. and International Management programs, for the practical skills that I would develop and then use for good. I also considered International Development programs. Yet, like the missing puzzle piece that is serendipitously found underneath a couch cushion, I found all of that and more. When I found out that a new M.A. program in Social Enterprise had been created, I could not think of a better way to support my career objective of improving the quality of life for others, while ensuring that my work is measurable and impact driven.”

Kate McElligott | Naperville, IL

Kate McElligott

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Providence College, M.A. Political Science, 2004

Pre-AU employment: CCS Fundraising consultancy, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Work while at AU: Senior Regional Development Officer, Grameen Foundation

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Post-AU employment: Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Grameen Foundation

Career interest: Market-based solutions to poverty alleviation, economic development in emerging markets, and corporate social responsibility

"I chose the M.A. in Social Enterprise program at AU for the flexibility in course offering and emphasis on practical application of academic theory. With a mix of international affairs and management courses, AU leverages best practices within both fields to create the next generation of leaders in global social innovation . In addition, the program emphasizes change management, innovation, and leadership through real-world problems outside the classroom, which is critical experience for managing and leading a social enterprise or new initiative within an existing organization."

Practicum project: "Enouraging Risk Taking and Innovation in Philanthropy"

Kerri Murphy | Stony Point, NY

Kerri Murphy

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Bryant University, B.S. International Business, 2008

Previous employment: Baltic American Enterprise Fund, Morgan Stanley, and Cane & Boniface, PC

Work while at AU: Chief Operating Officer (COO), William James Foundation

Post-AU employment: Manager, Certification Program at WEConnect International

Practicum project: "Partnership for Financial Sustainability"

Stephanie Navarrete | El Paso, Texas

Stephanie Navarrete

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Texas Tech University, B.A. Honors Arts & Letters and International Studies, 2010

Pre-AU Employment: Founder and CEO of Rue Sophie; United States Agency for International Development, American Embassy, San Salvador, El Salvador

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Career Interest: Corporate social responsibility in for-profit private sector industries and innovative strategies for channeling capitalisms power towards the advancement of society

“The unique curriculum at American University, where an emphasis is placed on doing, is appealing for hands on individuals as myself. I have the opportunity to participate in a community of innovators where I can develop both as a business owner and activist. At AU I expect to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to transform any business into a social entrepreneurial venture worthy of the title.”

Jessica Nehrbass | New Orleans, Louisiana

Jessica Nehrbass

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: University of Richmond, B.A. in Political Science (Minor in Economics), 2008

Pre-AU employment: Program Training Coordinator, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service

Work while at AU: Global Program Support Consultant, CNFA
 and Social Enterprise Coordinator, Abriendo Mentes

AU degree program and concentration: M.A. in Social Enterprise

Career interest: Social Entrepreneurship Consulting, Faith-Based International Development, Small Business Development, Startups

“The future of social enterprise to me is an emerging paradigm shift calling for businesses to achieve profitability through more socially-responsible operations. I want to be one of the actors propelling this movement. Because of the curriculum's flexibility, the MA program in Social Enterprise allows me to gain hard business skills while incorporating them into a new approach in international community development. I’m looking forward to building practical experience in the social enterprise field through the program’s professional network, as well as working with the open-minded and encouraging SE faculty to develop my entrepreneurial ideas for faith-based sustainable business.”

Michael Sayre | Bogota, Colombia

Michael Sayre

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Suffolk University, B.A. International Affairs/European History, 2005

Pre-AU employment: Director of New Initiatives at Partners of the Americas

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Post-AU employment: Technical Officer, Root Change

Career interest: To be a leader in social innovation in Latin America and participate in the development of an ecosystem that supports innovative cross-sector approaches that address pressing social problems in the region. 

"I chose American University’s M.A. in Social Enterprise because the program provided me with an opportunity to deepen my understanding of development practices and learn effective approaches to leading and creating innovative for-profit, non- profit and hybrid ventures. By being housed in the School of International Service, I am in an environment where my peers bring a wide range of experiences and have unique insights on issues such as poverty alleviation, diplomacy, service delivery strategies and management practices. The program’s focus on service and innovation in this unique environment is a blueprint of the cross-sector approach that I feel will be critical in creating the solutions to today’s most pressing problems.”

Practicum project: "Promoting Eco-Tourism in Mexico"

Sara Mizuta Seavey | Wayne, PA

Sara Seavey

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Connecticut College, B.A. International Relations, 2006

Pre-AU employment: Fund for Global Human Rights, Center for Women Policy Studies, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation

Work while at AU: Consulting, Honest Tea and the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation

Post-AU employment: Program Officer II at FHI 360

Career interest: Public-Private Partnerships, economic development with an emphasis on women's empowerment, corporate social responsibility and market-based solutions to poverty alleviation

"I chose the M.A. in Social Enterprise program at AU for the academic training with real world field experience and practical policy which will prepare me to become an a effective practitioner that can bridge both developing and developed worlds."

Practicum project: "Providing Entrepreneurship Training to Immigrant Women"

Sara Stromer | Monument, CO

Sara Stromer

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Boston College, B.A. Social Science, 2009

Pre-AU employment: National Bureau of Economic Research

Work while at AU: Grameen Foundation and American University

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Career interest: Public-Private Partnerships, local community building, economic development with an emphasis on women's empowerment, and market-based solutions to poverty alleviation

"After many years in the workforce, I decided to fully devote myself to doing what I feel most passionate about. I wanted to learn how I could most effectively affect positive change in the world, and the Social Enterprise program at AU is the perfect place to gain the knowledge and hands-on experience I was looking for. I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative, dynamic program. The classes are taught by excellent faculty, I am gaining practical applied experience, and I am surrounded by incredibly dedicated, creative, and engaged classmates."

Sara Telzer | Claremont, CA

Sara Telzer

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A. Law and Society, 2008

Pre-AU employment: Santa Barbara Public Defenders Office, Hadsell, Stormer, Keeny, Richardson & Renick LLP, Tempest Telecom Solutions, Children of South Africa, International Education Research Foundation

Work while at AU: Operations Coordinator, Ashoka’s Youth Venture

Post-AU employment: Client Relations Officer, Bankers without Borders at Grameen Foundation

Career interest: Maximize both social good and economic gains through for-benefit businesses and social enterprises to create sustainable and effective ways to address our world’s most pressing problems.

"I chose American University’s M.A. in Social Enterprise because the program offered me an entire degree in the courses I wanted to take and the education, tools and skills I wanted to acquire. AU’s M.A. Social Enterprise program provides an education grounded in practical and experiential learning, with a well rounded offering of theoretical, management, financial and business course options. Further, the program is housed in AU’s renowned School of International Service, allowing its students unparalleled access to courses in International Development, International Affairs and International Communication; topics critical to the evolution, scale and success of social enterprises here and abroad.”

Practicum project: "Enouraging Risk Taking and Innovation in Philanthropy"

Stevie Valdez | Gilbert, AZ

Stevie Smyth

Degree: Gonzaga University, B.A. Economics and Latin American Studies with concentration in Entrepreneurial Leadership, 2009

Pre-AU employment: Colegio Americano de San Carlos, Wells Fargo

Work while at AU: Project Coordinator at Marq Energie, Enterprise Development Intern in Relief International's Social Enterprise Division

Post-AU employment: Senior Associate, Impact Investing & Market Development, United Nations Foundation

Career interest: Social business model and strategy consulting, social finance, developing emerging markets, corporate social responsibility, SME development

"I chose the M.A. program in Social Enterprise, because I wanted to learn both business size and the social/cultural components of entering in an emerging market and starting an enterprise for the social good. There is a freedom to specialize your degree and make it what you want it. This program allows you to gain a deeper understanding of all of the factors that make a great social business through classes, internship opportunities and experiential learning."

Practicum project: "Reducing the Risks in Investing in Clean Cooking in East Africa"

Pomai Verzon | Nashville, TN

Pomai Verzon

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: Belmont University, B.A. Political Science and B.S. Economics, 2012

Pre-AU employment: LEAF: Linking, Educating, and Advancing Families; Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition; ACLU of Tennessee

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise – International Development and Venture Design

Internships/work while at AU: Cause - The PhilanthroPub, Grameen Foundation

Career interest: Poverty alleviation and international development through market-based strategies with increased sustainability and community collaboration

Post-AU employment: Fellow, IDEX Accelerator

“I chose the M.A. in Social Enterprise program at AU due to its focus on practical application of theory and exploration through action. Offering a multidisciplinary approach, the program gleans the best from the private, public, and NGO world to create change in an innovate, sustainable, and socially responsible way.”

Trey Waters | Darien, CT

Trey Waters

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: University of Colorado, Boulder, B.A. Economics, 2006

Pre-AU employment: Business Development Associate, British Consulate General, Chicago; Small Enterprise Development Volunteer, Peace Corps, Ghana

AU degree program and concentration: M.A., Social Enterprise

Career interest: Impact Investing, International Development, Entrepreneurship

“I am interested in spending the next two years studying entrepreneurship as a form of sustainable development. Also, being located in Washington DC, American University is able to provide connections to internationally focused organizations where I am able to practice my lessons from the classroom and gaining important hands on experience.”

Setra Yappi | Surabaya, Indonesia

Setra Yappi

Photo by Amy Gillespie

Degree: University of Texas at Austin, B.S. in Petroleum Engineering, 2008

Pre-AU employment: Petroleum Engineer at EOG Resources, Inc.

Work while at AU: Business Advisor at Sandler Trade LLC

Post-AU employment: Project Manager, Marq Energie Consulting

Career interest: Entrepreneurship, trade and development

“Social entrepreneurship, for me, is optimism transformed into creative action. There is a vast array of social problems around us, and many demand a multidisciplinary approach to address them. A social enterprise is a realization of rigid boundaries broken down for the sake of the sustainability of our evolving civilization. American University is committed to engage practitioners to learn and collaborate in order to be the leading edge of a movement providing service to the interconnected global community. And I am proud to be part of it."

Practicum project: "Increase higher education attainment and youth’s employability"