Our Leadership

Global Executive Team


William Drayton


As a student, he founded organizations ranging from Yale Legislative Services to Harvard’s Ashoka Table, an inter-disciplinary weekly forum in the social sciences. He launched Ashoka in 1981. He used the stipend received when elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984 to devote himself fully to Ashoka. In 2005, he was selected one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership.


Diana Wells

Diana joined the organization after graduating from Brown University in 1988 with a degree in South Asian Studies. As an undergraduate, her year-long study abroad in Varanasi, India led her to see the need for local solutions to solve global problems. This insight inspired her to pursue an internship at Ashoka, where she created one of its core programs, Fellowship Support Services, (now Fellowship) which expanded the resources available to Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs to connect them to one another. She became the President of Ashoka in 2005.


Iman Bibars

Iman is the Regional Director for Ashoka Arab World (AAW) which she launched in 2003. Iman is a Leadership Group Member and Global Diaspora Leader in Ashoka.  She is the co-founder and chair of ADEW, a CSO providing credit and legal aid for impoverished women. With more than 30 years of experience in strategic planning, policy formulation, community development and project design, Iman has dedicated her life to working with marginalized and voiceless groups -female heads of households in Egypt's poorest areas.


Maria Valeria Budinich

Valeria Budinich is a social entrepreneur with 25 years of experience innovating at the intersection of business and society. As a Leadership Group Member at Ashoka, she founded "Full Economic Citizenship", a global initiative that has enabled over 50 hybrid business models in housing, small farmer agriculture and other industries. Currently, she is launching Ashoka’s Changemaker Economy, a global initiative on the new way of organizing for value creation for the good of all. In 2012, she received the Harvard/McKinsey M-Prize for management innovation for her pioneering work.


Conrad W Carter


Bill Carter was one of Ashoka's founding Board members. After stepping down from the Board of Directors in February 2009, Bill joined Ashoka as its Everyone a Changemaker Leader for Africa. In this role, he guides Ashoka's overall strategy for our programming in Africa. Before working fulltime with Ashoka, Bill was the CEO of an independent power company, the Long Lake Energy Corporation, that developed hydroelectric, cogeneration and other types of power generation which was sold to public utilities in the US and Canada.

Mark Cheng

Mark is a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka, based in Hong Kong. Mark started with Ashoka in 2007 as a Senior Advisor on Social Finance, based in London. He became UK Director in 2011, and European Director in 2014. Mark led the European Diamond from 2014-19, before moving to Hong Kong where he has launched the Hong Kong Chapter for Ashoka. Prior to joining Ashoka, Mark founded Chelwood Capital, a global social investment advisory firm, which he continues to actively manage.


Anne B Evans

Anne Evans has extensive experience as a social entrepreneur, private sector management consultant, senior executive and nonprofit trustee. Formerly a partner with the MAC Group (now Gemini Consulting) she was also Executive Officer/Administrator of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  She has consulted to and served on the boards of a variety of nonprofit organizations, including as board chair for the Levine School of Music.


Konstanze Frischen

Konstanze is a member of the Leadership Group and leads Ashoka’s new global initiative on Tech & Humanity. She’s also the head of Ashoka in North America. A social anthropologist and journalist by background, she founded Ashoka in her native Germany in 2003 and co-led Ashoka’s emergence and growth in Western Europe, introducing the then radically new concept of social entrepreneurship to the continent. She also co-founded the Globalizer, an initiative re-defining what we mean by scale. She worked for CNN and FAZ and was a board member for GLS Bank, Germany’s leading ethical financial institution, before moving to the US in 2015. She is on the advisory board of CASE at Duke University.


Michael Gallagher

Michael joined Ashoka as one of its earliest staff in 1986. During three years he helped build the early Ashoka in Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan. 30 years later Michael rejoined Ashoka to build an Everyone A Changemaker movement with partners in Southeast Asia. Before rejoining Ashoka, Michael was an intrapreneur at Wells Fargo in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and London. During 26 years at Wells Fargo he built and led 7 new businesses in small business credit, and in intellectual property and patenting.


Ross Hall

Ross joined Ashoka in November 2014. Ross has founded and grown more than 20 businesses around the world.


Arnaud Mourot

Arnaud Mourot is Co-Director Ashoka Europe. A member of the French team of Olympic wrestling for 10 years and a graduate from ESCP Business school, Arnaud has been involved in the humanitarian sector since he finished his studies. He founded and led the NGO “Play International”  (formerly Sport Sans Frontières) in 1999. He has also contributed to the development of various Social Businesses and CSOs in France. He launched the operations of Ashoka France/Belgium/Switzerland in 2005.


Ana Saenz de Miera

Ana’s leadership started young. As a Scout member from the age of 8, she was taught early what it means to have an idea, and to make it happen. By the age of 16 she was determined to make the Scouts accessible to children from the age of 6 (instead of the minimum 8-year mark). Today, every single Scout group in Spain includes this range, with a total of 3,000 members. Today, Ana has created a movement in Spain that brings together social entrepreneurs, companies, public administration, youth and schools to work towards a society where everyone realizes their changemaking potential.


Pape Samb

Pape Samb comes to Ashoka with 20 years of leadership experience and an established record in strategic planning, program development and management, content management, fundraising, proposal writing, training and facilitation. At 13, he started a women’s empowerment and youth economic development organization. At 17, he was president of CAP-Jeunesse, a Senegalese network of youth organizations; and was hired by the Senegalese government to train youth in entrepreneurship, business and grassroots organization management.


Anamaria Schindler

Anamaria served as Ashoka Global Co-President from 2005 to December 2007. She joined Ashoka in 1996 to launch a joint venture between Ashoka and McKinsey & Company. She has worked on business social bridges, the Ashoka global business plan, and a global shared vision process. She launched the Instituto Arapyaú in Brazil in 2008 with leading business entrepreneur Guilherme Leal, of Natura Cosmetics.


Helena Singer

I was born and has lived most of my life in São Paulo, Brazil. As a Sociologist, I've always dedicated to the themes of democracy and social innovation, with most of her projects and ideas focusing on the field of education. In this area, I co-led the creation of a couple very innovative schools in Brazil. For some years, I was co-director of Learning City School, an organization focused on local development processes guided by education.


Robert Spoer


Bob Spoer is Chief Enterpreneur for People. A veteran of Silicon Valley search Spoer has recruited business and technical innovators globally for a number of Silicon Valley companies. In addition to LinkedIn, he has worked with Bloom Energy, Trimble and Teknekron. He began his search career with Spencer Stuart based in Hong Kong. “Recruiting for Good”, sponsored by the Linkedin for Good Foundation, enables teams of employees to “crowdsource” the best talent for key executive and technical roles for NGOs on a pro bono basis.

Vishnu Swaminathan

Vishnu leads Ashoka South Asia's efforts to create an "Everyone a Changemaker" world—one where each person has the skills, drive, and resources to push forward solutions to pressing social and environmental problems, and each organization works to maximize the changemaking potential of its members. Vishnu also heads the Housing for All program at Ashoka in India, which is working on increasing the supply of affordable housing for low income communities in India on market based models. The program has reached 6 cities, catalyzing around 10,000 homes in a short period of 2 years.


Nana Watanabe

As a professional photographer/artist and writer, Nana observed Japan start failing after its economic prosperous period roughly between 1982 and 1993. The observation made her believe Japan was missing a role-model for youth and triggered her to search social change-makers and recount their stories to Japanese audience as a new role model. Along the journey of hunting and interviewing over 150 social innovators between 2000 and 2006 she noticed some of the interviewees were recognized as “Ashoka Fellows”.


Stuart Yasgur

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka’s Social Financial Services (SFS) globally. To date, Ashoka SFS has supported dozens of pioneering Social Investment Entrepreneurs and mobilized over $500 million in funding. Earlier in his career, Stuart was Managing Partner of a New York-based consultancy and has taught at New York University and the London School of Economics. Stuart received a PhD from the London School of Economics, a Master’s degree from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. To connect with Stuart, contact [email protected] or @StuartYasgur on Twitter.

Global Board of Directors


Bill Drayton, USA

Chair and CEO, Ashoka

Bill Drayton is a social entrepreneur with a long record of founding organizations and public service. As a student, he founded organizations ranging from Yale Legislative Services to Harvard’s Ashoka Table, an inter-disciplinary weekly forum in the social sciences. After graduation from Harvard, he received an M.A. from Balliol College in Oxford University. In 1970, he graduated from Yale Law School. After working at McKinsey & Company, he taught at Stanford Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. From 1977 to 1981, while serving the Carter Administration as Assistant Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, he launched emissions trading (the basis of Kyoto) among other reforms. He launched Ashoka in 1981. He used the stipend received when elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984 to devote himself fully to Ashoka. Bill is Ashoka’s Chair and Chief Executive Officer. He is also chair of three other organizations; Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! Bill has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 2005, he was selected one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Other awards include the Yale Law School’s highest alumni honor, the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award International; and the National Academy of Public Administration National Public Service Award. As one of three members of the Leadership Team, his special responsibilities are leadership of the new group entrepreneurship and social financial services programs as well as staff search and marketing functions. (photo: (c) Yusuke Abe)

Sushmita Ghosh, India

Ashoka President Emeritus

After graduating at the top of her class at the University of Delhi, Sushmita served as a Sub-Editor, Research Director and Executive Director of Maneka Gandhi’s national Indian news magazine Surya from 1979 to 1982. She went on to pursue a successful career in freelance journalism, working with every major mainstream publication in India, including The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, Business Standard, Sunday Magazine, and others. After more than two decades with Ashoka, Sushmita has moved on to an honorary role of Leadership Team Emerita.

Following her career in journalism, Sushmita served as Ashoka’s country representative for India from 1989 – 1997. During that time, she helped Ashoka launch its new programs in Latin America and directed its European efforts. In 1992, Sushmita founded Changemakers, which she evolved from a magazine for social entrepreneurship to an online platform for open source problem solving. That service now offers instruction in changemaking for social change organizations and ordinary citizens, ultimately aspiring to form a self-energizing community of changemakers. Subsequently, she became Ashoka’s International Vice President and the Executive Director of Changemakers. She later served as President of Ashoka from 2000 to 2005.

Sushmita is also a board member of several non-profit organizations around the world, and a council member at the American India Foundation. Her leadership has driven Ashoka’s growth and its support programs for the global citizen sector. She has a special interest in how social entrepreneurs use online platforms to drive social change on a global scale and is currently developing ways of gathering and sharing knowledge in this area.


Mary Gordon, Canada

Ashoka Fellow and Founder, Roots of Empathy

Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. Ms Gordon created the aggression/bullying prevention program Roots of Empathy in 1996 and named her not-for-profit organization after the program. Roots of Empathy now offers programs in every province of Canada, New Zealand, the USA, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland and Germany. In 2005, Ms Gordon created the Seeds of Empathy program, a social emotional and early literacy program for 3 to 5 year olds in child care. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Newfoundland, an Ashoka Fellow (2002) and Ashoka Globalizer (2011). Ms. Gordon was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Education (2002) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for significant achievement and remarkable Service (2012). Ms Gordon is also the founder of Canada's first and largest school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which she initiated in 1981. They have become public policy and have been used as a best practice model internationally. Ms Gordon speaks and consults to governments, educational organizations, and public institutions. In the late 90’s The Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation brought Ms Gordon to South Africa to share her parenting expertise. Ms Gordon has also presented to the World Health Organization, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the United Nations, among others. Ms Gordon is the recipient of several prestigious awards recognizing her contribution to innovation in education. In 2009 she received the Public Education Advocacy Award from the Canadian Teachers' Federation. As a leading expert on empathy, Ms Gordon has had several dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has expressed that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace. Ms Gordon has been featured in several documentary films and scholarly books. She frequently appears in popular print and electronic media. Her book Roots of Empathy, Changing the World Child by Child is a Canadian best seller and available in several languages.

Roger Harrison, United Kingdom

Newspaper Executive and Journalist

Roger has had an extensive career as a journalist, manager, CEO and board member. His business careers have spanned local and national newspaper publishing, magazine publishing, broadcasting, and property ownership and development. Roger’s journalism career began in 1951 as a freelance writer. He worked full-time for The Times and in 1967 moved to The Observer. He served there as of Director, then as Chief Executive from 1984 to 1987. Roger also served as director at London Weekend Television and as the Deputy Chairman of Capital Radio. After his studies at Oxford and Harvard, Roger began his social service. He lived for several years in one of the poorest parts of East London helping with and later becoming chairman of a youth club and community center. From 1990 to 2002, he served as Chairman of Toynbee Hall, which serves a heavily Bangladeshi immigrant community. Roger also has also served as Chairman of Asylum Aid (helping asylum seekers in the UK), a council member of Goldsmiths College (a university in South London), and a trustee of many diverse charities. He is currently the Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), an influential dance education and training organizations that operates in 80 countries.

Fred Hehuwat, Indonesia

Ashoka Fellow and Founder, The Green Indonesia Foundation

As a student at the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology, Fred was one of the founders of the nonparty student movement that played an important a role in ending the Sukarno era. After earning a Ph.D. in geology in Holland, for twelve years he directed the important National Institute of Geology and Mining. He expanded this role to include extensive development work. He was one of the co-founders of the first citizen environmental organization, the Green Indonesia Foundation, at the time a difficult and courageous initiative. Fred was one of the very early Ashoka Fellows. Fred chairs Ashoka Indonesia and has played many roles in Ashoka -- from selection panel chair to member of the board Executive Committee.

Sara Horowitz, USA

Board Director (2015)

Sara is the founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union a non-profit organization founded in 2003 geared towards addressing the needs of the ever growing, independent workforce, via advocacy, education and services. Freelancers Union membership continues to grow and already comprises two hundred and fifty thousand individual members nation wide. Sara is a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellow and the CEO of Freelancers Insurance Company, which provides affordable health care to independent workers with revenues nearing 100 million dollars. Previously Sara has served as a labor organizer and labor lawyer. She is a graduate of Cornell University and received her master's degree from Harvard University.

Felipe Vergara

Co-Founder and CEO, Lumni

Felipe Vergara is the Co-Founder and CEO of Lumni a venture capital fund that invests directly in human capital. Lumni finances education for students in exchange for a small fixed percentage of their future income over a pre-set time period. Before devoting full time to Lumni he founded four companies in the education and finance sectors, and worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in New York. Felipe received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.

Kyle Zimmer, USA

Co-founder and President, First Book

Kyle is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, educational equity, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding. Among her awards is the National Education Association Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education (2013) and the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award (2014). Kyle was featured in the opening plenary on stage at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America, and was also featured onstage by President Bill Clinton at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative. She was a presenter at the University of Oxford’s “Power Shift: Forum for Women in the World Economy” at the Saïd Business School at Oxford and she also in a regular lecturer at the Wharton School of Business and Columbia Business School. She participated in the World Economic Forum in Dubai in 2014, was a presenter and blogger at the World Economic Forum in Beijing in 2012. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship, and was featured as a presenter at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010. In 2009, Kyle was honored as a Carle Honors Angel Award recipient. She was named the first-ever American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketer of the Year in 2008 and Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the United States in 2007 by the Geneva-based Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. She is currently serving as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Values.