CEO & Chair
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 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.
Empathy and Changemaker Schools Director for Latin America
Flavio Bassi is a global Leadership Group Member of Ashoka and Vice President of Ashoka in Latin America. He currently leads Ashoka’s Empathy and Childhood strategy. Previously, Flavio served as regional director of Ashoka in Southern Africa. With degrees in Biology and Social Sciences and a Master’s in Social Anthropology, he started his trajectory as a social educator working with rural and traditional communities in Brazil. He is the founder and served as executive director of Ocareté, a citizen-sector organization active in the social-environmental field with indigenous and other traditional communities in Brazil’s Amazon and Atlantic Rainforest. In the last 6 years, Flavio has been establishing and co-leading strategic partnerships with government, faculties of education, publishers, education unions and the media, towards a movement that creates an enabling environment for young people to feel, act and thrive as changemakers.
Regional Director - Ashoka Arab World (Ashoka VP)
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.
Leadership Group Member Search Europe
David Bonbright is founder and Chief Executive of Keystone (formerly ACCESS), an initiative that aims to transform the fields of social investing and sustainable development. Previously, David directed the Aga Khan Development Network's Civil Society Programme (AKDN) that brings together a number of development agencies, institutions, and programmes that work primarily in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa.
In the early 1990s, he founded and led two African citizen sector resource centers: one relating to organizational development (the Development Resources Centre, Johannesburg) and one relating to information and technology (SANGONeT, Johannesburg). He also played an instrumental role in the processes that gave birth to the Southern African Grantmakers Association (SAGA) and the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), and led the first Africa program of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.
As a grantmaker and manager with Aga Khan Foundation (1997 - 2004), Ford Foundation (1983 - 87), Oak Foundation - (1988 - 1990), and Ashoka: Innovators for the Public (1990 - 1997), David has sought to evolve and test innovative approaches to strengthening citizen self-organization for social justice and sustainable development as an alternative to prevailing bureaucratic, top-down models.
Trained as a lawyer, David has authored and co-authored a number of reports and books on the subject of philanthropy in Pakistan, indigenous philanthropy and public entrepreneurship.
He sits on the boards, advisory councils and knowledge networks of The Constant Gardener Trust, AccountAbility Forum, Alliance magazine, Allavida, Goldman Foundation Environmental Awards, the Johns Hopkins University Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, and the CIVICUS Civil Society Index.
Conrad W Carter
Leadership Group Member
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. He also played a leading role in developing Ashoka's Indonesia program starting in 1981. He spent a number of years in McKinsey & Company's international practice and served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he was responsible for wide-ranging management reforms.
Senior Advisor for Europe and Asia
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. Mark is recognized as a pioneer in impact investment, and over the past decade has helped raise over $250mn for social causes in areas including micro-finance, clean energy, healthcare, education and conservation. He is a Director of Emerge Education, a leading incubator for ed/tech start-ups, and a founding member of the ClearlySo Angels network, the UK’s first angel investment network for impact investors.
Anne B Evans
Leadership Group Member, Strategic Resources
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. In 2001, she entered the world of social entrepreneurs, co-founding the Nomadic Kenyan Children's Educational Fund (NKCEF) to support secondary-level education of nomadic children in Kenya. NKCEF merged in 2011 with the Kenya Education Fund and Anne continues on the board of the combined entity. A native of North Carolina, Anne received her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College, and Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale University's School of Organization and Management as part of its Charter Class.
Regional Director - North America, Leadership Group Member
Konstanze leads Ashoka in North America and is a member of the Global Leadership Group. She founded Ashoka in her native Germany in 2003, convinced that social entrepreneurship was needed in Western Europe. Thus, she introduced a radically new concept of social innovation and with her colleagues built up the most powerful network of innovators across the continent. She also co-founded the Globalizer, an initiative re-defining what we mean by scale. She became Ashoka Europe’s director in 2011, before moving to the US in early 2015. Konstanze is a social anthropologist with a degree from the LSE, and has lived in Germany, the UK, and Costa Rica. She worked for CNN and was a tenured writer for Germany’s quality broadsheet FAZ, as well as a member of the team that launched the Sunday paper FAS to large public acclaim, winning the European Newspaper Award. Until her departure to the US, she was a board member of GLS Bank, Germany’s leading credit union committed to sustainability.
Leader for Southeast Asia
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.
Framework Change and Communication Leader—Indonesia
For the past eight years, as the Program Director of In-Docs, Amelia has created game-changing strategies that have connected Indonesian and Southeast Asian documentary bio films with funding, distribution, and social impact partners. These strategies build an early infrastructure for Indonesian documentary films, that enable high quality films to be produced and achieve social impact.
Documentary filmmaking has been a deprived ecosystem without formal avenues of funding and distribution. Creative documentaries that reflect on important and critical views of Indonesian society were deemed to have no commercial value.
Her leadership at In-Docs has elevated the visibility, financial possibilities and impact of creative documentaries from Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In 2015, In-Docs co-created Dare to Dream Asia program in partnership with STEPS, a documentary organization. Through Dare to Dream Asia, Asian talents were supported with international mentorship and funding that can help the global distribution of their projects. To date, 8 films produced under the Dare to Dream Asia program have been selected to more than 50 international film festivals and have been awarded in more than 10 international film festivals. Six films have been broadcasted globally.
In partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, in 2017 In-Docs initiated Docs By The Sea. The international forum connects most promising documentary projects from Southeast Asia with the international industry. In the past 3 years, Docs By The Sea has supported 74 documentary projects. 22 projects have been completed to date, and they have been shown in more than 90 international film festivals. These projects have attracted more than 40 funding and financing from all over the world, and nine films have been broadcasted globally.
In-Docs is also the host of Good Pitch program in Indonesia, that connects best documentary films from Indonesia and Southeast Asia with 400+ changemakers from various fields. Attending changemakers are asked to consider how can they collaborate with the films to achieve social impact. Since 2017, nine films in the Good Pitch program have forged more than 350 partnerships. Good Pitch program is a collaboration with Doc Society, a U.K and U.S. based documentary organization.
Amelia lives with her two children and a husband in Jakarta. Before finding a little oasis in the frantic city, she has studied, lived, and worked in the United States, Germany, China, and Timor-Leste.
Leader, Strategic Entrepreneurship Relationships
Latin America Framework Change/Marketing Communications Lead
Andrea leads the Framework Change, Marketing and Communications Program at Ashoka Latin America. Her goal is to exponentially grow the number of people who generate systemic changes in the region, and help these changemakers acquire the skills they need to produce positive, longstanding impacts. Prior to Ashoka, Andrea led the communications and education program at Conservation International, and the environmental program at the Roberto Marinho Foundation. In 2015, she returned to school to study landscape resilience at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Afterwards, she joined the Collective Learning group at the MIT Media Lab. More recently, she was part of the business and partnership team of Datawheel, a start-up in Boston specialized in data analysis and visualization. Andrea has a background in journalism and business administration.
Country Director - France/Switzerland
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. He now leads the development of Ashoka in southern Europe and Francophony, as well as Ashoka’s “innovation for EACH businesses” initiative. He also serves as a global spokes person for Ashoka.Arnaud is married and the father of 3 children. He lives in Switzerland.
Ashoka Europe Leader
Marie Ringler is leading Ashoka’s work in Europe. She founded Ashoka’s Austrian office in 2011 and soon took over Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe. In 2015 she became one of Ashoka’s Europe Directors, in 2018 she was appointed European Leader of Ashoka. She was born in Vienna, studied Sociology, Political Science and Women`s Studies at the University of Vienna, and holds a degree from ESADE Business School, Spain and an MBA from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
In the late 90`s she helped build Public Netbase, an art institution dedicated to exploring the social implications of the internet and new technologies through the lens of art, and later became its managing director. She was elected into office as a Member of the Regional Parliament and City Council of Vienna in 2001, making her the youngest member. During her time in office, she focused on developing policy to drive innovations in society, and served on the Vienna Department of Commerce Advisory Board, initiated the city’s Open Source Software Strategy and developed a federal policy program for Innovation.
After two successful terms in office, she decided against a life-long career in politics and established Ashoka`s Austrian office in Vienna.
In her role as Director of Ashoka in Central and Eastern Europe she led Ashoka’s relaunch efforts in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Israel. As Europe Leader Ringler is advancing Ashoka’s work in over 26 country offices who support more than 570 Social Entrepreneurs (“Ashoka Fellows”). Ringler serves as a 2nd Opinion Interviewer in Ashoka’s Global Fellow Selection process and has led the global selection process for more than 50 Fellows in countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia, and the US. Her work has been featured extensively in international media and she is a frequent speaker at conferences and events focusing on social entrepreneurship, social innovation, cross-sectoral collaboration and policy. She was a member of the Supervisory Board of the Austrian Broadcasting Agency (ORF), and serves on several award juries.
Ana Saenz de Miera
Country Director - Spain
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.
Regional Director - Africa
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.
Leadership Group Member
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. She launched a national movement “Movimento Brasil Sustentavel." She worked on the Brazilian Presidential Campaign in 2010 as advisor for Marina Silva and Guilherme Leal, President and Vice-President candidates respectively. Anamaria is a sociologist who graduated from a Master and Doctorate program in Sociology at the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. She was born in Germany, and grew up and lives in Brazil.
Leadership Group Member, Latin America Youth Years
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. In 2015, I became a special assistant to the Minister of Education, responsible for an initiative to foster innovation in basic education in the country. I hold a PhD in Sociology, postdoctoral degree in Education.
Leadership Group Member, Search
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. It has shown promise as a productive model for cross sector collaboration for hiring as well as professional development and knowledge transfer. Pro bono clients have included the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, Playworks, Global Network Initiative and Ashoka.
Regional Director - South Asia, Global Partnerships, Leadership Group Member
Vishnu, a lifelong entrepreneur now leads Ashoka’s global teams on Planning, Budgeting, and Global Partnerships. He has been at Ashoka for 11 years and during that time, he has led multiple teams across South Asia, South East Asia and at the Global office. He joined Ashoka to lead a project on affordable housing, which after demonstration of enabling over 15,000 homes across India - is now a separate organization he co-founded called the Indian Housing Federation. Similarly, his work on malnutrition has led to the creation of another organization called Nourishing Schools Foundation which has now reached over 40,000 children in schools across India and helping them take charge of their own nutrition. Earlier in his career, he co-founded two internet technology companies in Singapore. Looking back, both the companies were based on ideas that were ahead of their times - Artificial intelligence and Machine learning and another a fin-tech business. One of the companies was acquired in the early 2000s and he discovered his deep interest in social development after that. He is passionate about creating large scale social change using hybrid business models.
Country Director - Japan
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”.
Managing Director - Social Financial Services, Search
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.
Ashoka Chief Financial Officer
Kevin is CFO, Treasurer & Leadership Group Member at Ashoka. He is also co-owner of Pencil Joy, an illustration design firm. Previously, Kevin was CFO of Keel Point, its SEC-registered investment advisor, broker dealer subsidiary, family office group and alternative investment funds.
He is a CFO with a track record of achievements earned from leading finance in two different industries, serving ultra high net worth clients and promoting their financial agenda, and leading financial management of a global organization.
Earlier in his career, Kevin was with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Assurance and Advisory Group. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
South East Asia Diamond Leader
Nani has been working on women empowerment at the grass root level since 1987, starting as a field worker of The Center for Women’s Resources Development (PPSW) – a woman NGO in Indonesia. In PPSW she gained experience as a grass root women organizer, community trainer, facilitator, project coordinator and program manager. She was appointed as the director of PPSW in 1995 and served there until 2000.
In 2001, Nani founded PEKKA (Women Headed Family Empowerment) focusing on empowering female heads of family, the poorest of the poor in Indonesia. PEKKA offered exceptional support to women who head of families—to recognize themselves as capable of making important contributions to society, helping them to create new roles for themselves, individually and collectively.
Nani, leading over 60 PEKKA team members, has accompanied over 60,000 women-headed families in over 3,000 self-help groups across 1,300 villages in 20 of 34 provinces in Indonesia fight for their education, economic, legal, social and political rights.
PEKKA built over 40 community learning centers in different part of Indonesia that serve entire villages, providing sites for adult literacy, vocational training, and early childhood education for grassroots women. Their legal empowerment programs developed paralegal skills to assist village women bring family law and legal identity cases to court and civil registry officials.
PEKKA has also worked assiduously to change discriminatory laws and policies. They drew attention to the status and role of women heads of families as key drivers in efforts to eradicate poverty. PEKKA successfully pressed the government to expand its judicial system to rural areas and fought to obtain legal status for women-headed families, ultimately achieving this goal in 2006.
PEKKA has received several International awards including Best Practice Award Ministry of Finance Japan 2009 and ASEAN Leadership Award 2013.
Alongside her work through PEKKA, Nani co-founded several national networks and NGOs which promote women’s rights and advancing policy reforms for the sector especially in the face of its marginalization in public policy and funding. Among them are ASPPUK (Association of NGOs Working with Women Entrepreneurs and Micro Businesses) on economic justice for women, and ALIMAT; a network of activists and Islamic scholars for a just system for families in the Muslim context.
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)
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.
Sushmita Ghosh, India
Leadership Team Emerita, former Ashoka President
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.
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
In the late 1980s, Kyle Zimmer, then a practicing attorney, was volunteering at a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. Realizing that the kids she was working with had no books in their lives, she set out with two friends to build a market-driven solution to ensure all children have access to critical books and resources.
Since then, First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise she co-founded in 1992, has become a leader in furthering equal access to quality education. First Book’s work is driven by educators in the First Book Network – the largest and fastest growing network of schools and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada.
Under her leadership, First Book has grown into a family of social enterprises that addresses a spectrum of educational barriers faced by children in need. Kyle pioneered the organization’s sustainable, market-driven e-commerce model that provides educators with free and affordable, high-quality new books, educational resources, and basic needs items. She also expanded First Book’s capacity to provide original research, educator access to leading experts, and targeted funding solutions. Over its 28-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a value of more than $2 billion.
Kyle’s commitment to innovation and collaboration has earned her a reputation as a social sector leader. She is a member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council, and she currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., which is responsible for protecting and overseeing the integrity of Dr. Seuss books, properties, licensing and related products; and of the board of directors for Ashoka, which works to support the finest social entrepreneurs in more than 70 countries. She also serves on the Youth Venture board of directors and as a member of the board for James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead. Kyle is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, educational equity, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding.
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, participated in a panel at Fordham University, and she also is a regular lecturer at the Wharton School of Business and Columbia Business School. She has been a presenter and/or participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos (2019 and 2010), in Dubai (2014) and in Beijing (2012). She served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Values (2013-2016), and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship (2010). 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.
Kyle has also been honored as a DC Alpha Alumna Initiate of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women (2019), the Texas AFT’s Child Advocate Award (2019) and EY Entrepreneur of the Year® 2017 Award-Mid-Atlantic Region. Other awards include the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged (2016), Peggy Charren/Free to Be You and Me Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women (2016), the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Pacesetter Honors (2016), the Library of Congress David M. Rubenstein Prize (2015), the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award (2014) and the National Education Association Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education (2013), the Carle Honors Angel Award (2009) and the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community (2005). From 2004 – 2008, Fast Company named Kyle one of 45 Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World.
An attorney, Kyle received her juris doctor from The George Washington University Law School, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa.