According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the United States. Behind every nonprofit organization is a talented, dedicated, nonprofit founder with a compelling mission and a transformational vision.
These nonprofit founders profiled below exhibit the essential attributes of an impactful nonprofit leader, and their organizations will undoubtedly better the world in 2020.
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Preston L. James, II // Divinc
Preston is a mentor, startup advisor/consultant, investor and evangelist for Tech Startups. His mission help innovative entrepreneurs successfully navigate the challenging journey of building a successful business by providing a true partnership, engaging leadership, industry experience and access to key resources.
By taking a different approach, Preston aims to increase the number of diverse founders and investors participating in the startup ecosystems nationwide.
With this in mind Preston founded Divinc, a nonprofit organization that transforms the existing entrepreneur tech ecosystem into a more authentically inclusive environment. Through their efforts, they inspire, empower and enable underrepresented founders to build successful high growth businesses.
The organization aims to unleash the untapped and hidden innovative talent within communities and generate an entrepreneur mindset shift for generations to come. Divinc believes diversity and inclusion drive innovation.
Since 2016, the organization has provided 64 founders and 49 tech and tech enabled companies with critical strategies to succeed and grow their startups.
Captain Daniel Andrews // Captains For Clean Water
Captain Daniel Andrews once lived his life’s calling as a full-time fishing guide. As the SW Florida estuaries began declining due to water mismanagement practices, so did Capt. Daniel’s business. He learned of the underlying corruption and lack of awareness in the outdoor community, leading him to fight back by co-founding Captains For Clean Water.
As Executive Director, Capt. Daniel keeps a steady pulse on Florida water policy and projects, working with elected officials and government agencies to ensure science-based solutions are implemented to restore our water quality. Capt. Daniel firmly believes that to protect the Everglades and our way of life, we must be the ones to speak up.
Captains For Clean Water is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the elimination of harmful, large-scale Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River Estuaries by restoring the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay. Restoring the natural southern flow of Lake Okeechobee water is essential to the survival of our estuaries, the health of the Everglades, and the long-term viability of South Florida’s largest drinking water source (the Biscayne Aquifer). Captains For Clean Water started out as a group of fishing guides from Fort Myers, FL that “had enough” of Florida’s poor water management practices.
Jaycina Almond // The Tender Foundation
Jaycina Almond, is a mother to a lively 3-year-old and a full-time model. She has been an outspoken advocate for maternal and neonatal wellness since her pregnancy, her passion for maternal wellness is the catalyst behind The Tender Foundation.
The Tender Foundation empowers low-income mamas by making essentials accessible. Tender is driven by the desire to cultivate a community of care, the goal is to shift mamas out of “survival mode” though their stabilization program. The program provides emergency assistance with bills, groceries, and essentials like diapers and wipes, while connecting our mamas with long-term resources to help on their journey to sustainable financial independence.
Kim Novod // Saul’s Light
In 2014, Kimberly and Aaron Novod’s son, Saul, was born prematurely at twenty-eight weeks and six days. He passed away after twenty days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Their son’s story and their experience in the NICU inspired the creation of Saul’s Light.
Saul’s Light is a New Orleans-based nonprofit that provides support and community to families with babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Kim dreams of a world where every baby is born strong and healthy. But the next best thing is to help NICU parents get the necessary resources and emotional support they need in their time of crisis, and beyond. Your support helps us support NICU families in our community every day.
Josh Trautwein // About Fresh
Josh is the co-founder of About Fresh. He is devoted to the science of social innovation. He cooks up Fresh Truck’s social impact strategy and leads development to support the organizational growth.
It all started while Josh was working as a health educator at the MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center. He kept hearing from his families that it was difficult to shop for healthy food — at that time, the only grocery store in the neighborhood was shutting down for a year-long renovation.
The health center had no way of solving for the fact that patients didn’t have access to the food they needed to stay healthy. It was this experience that inspired Fresh truck to rethink the traditional grocery store model, make it mobile and bring food closer to the people that need it the most.
In 2018, About Fresh expanded their efforts to address health disparities by developing Fresh Connect a platform that makes it possible for health care providers to prescribe food as medicine. Josh has a big vision for the future of food and healthcare, and he and his team are only just getting started.
Taylor Bouchard // Ducklings Travel
At just 17 years old, Taylor Bouchard founded Ducklings Travel, a nonprofit committed to ensuring no child suffering a debilitating medical condition is denied medical attention due to travel expenses. The story behind Ducklings Travel began when Taylor was 10 years old and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation – a rare and debilitating medical condition that would lead her across the country to Denver, Colorado, for fifteen surgeries.
Her and her family’s own experiences traveling for medical treatments fueled the mission of Ducklings Travel since its founding. To fundraise, Ducklings Travel hosts fundraisers, sells merchandise online, and benefits from private donors. Taylor continues to preside over the nonprofit as a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, pursuing a degree in Integrated Studies. Following the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, she aims to make her life her message as passion and empathy drive her to make an impact on the lives of others.
Kenton Lee // Because International
Kenton is the founder of Because International and the creator of their first project The Shoe That Grows. After spending time living at a small orphanage in Kenya he had the idea for a shoe that could expand its size. It took six years to work on the idea. But he and his friends succeeded in developing a shoe that can grow five sizes and last for years. The cause accidentally went viral in 2015. And now there are over 300,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows on the feet of kids in over 100 countries.
Because International’s mission is to use products as solutions to alleviate poverty by meeting immediate needs and creating opportunities for empowerment. Their first product is The Shoe That Grows – a shoe that can adjust five sizes and last for years. The shoes are produced exclusively in Kenya and distributed through thousands of partners working locally with kids around the world. The newest program is the Pursuit Incubator which offers training, mentoring, and funding to early-stage global entrepreneurs who are working on ideas for small products that can make a difference.
Phyliss Everette // Saffron Trust Women’s Foundation
Phyllis is a woman of passion, vision, and purpose is the Founder of the Saffron Trust Women’s Foundation (STWF). The organization that strives to remove barriers creating better life outcomes for women. Before STWF, Phyllis served as Program Director of a Health Clinic, working with Women’s Health Care. Phyllis has 25 years of experience in corporate environments.
The recognition and success that Phyllis has achieved that continue to inspire her, gave her pause when asked, “why me”, with “why not me”. Her signature mantra is “Born to give herself away.” So, she is committed and has dedicated her life to unconditionally helping to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Phyllis socially engaged in her community. She is pursuing coursework in Undoing Racism and Undoing White Supremacy Austin, addressing multi-racial communities to end personal structural, and cultural racism to building a racially just Austin.
Kitti Murray // Refuge Coffee Co
Kitti Murray and her husband Bill live on the edge of Atlanta in a refugee community that has been called the most diverse square mile in the country. This has been the most intense and inviting neighborhood in their experience, and it has taught them to dream big and love even bigger. One expression of that love has been Refuge Coffee Co., a non-profit Kitti founded as a way to join hands with neighbors near and far to create opportunity and true refuge through coffee and community service.
Refuge Coffee is a nonprofit that provides living wage, full-time jobs, job training, and mentorship to resettled refugees. The heart of the mission is welcome. The Refuge trainees drive that mission, welcoming the world at two coffee shops in Clarkston and downtown Atlanta and from bright red coffee trucks all over the city.
Refuge has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Senator Bill Bradley’s radio show, American Voices, Food & Wine magazine, and NPR’s The Salt. Kitti has spoken about Refuge at Creative Mornings, the Q Commons, Leadercast Women, Google Atlanta, and at other venues where people come to hear stories about justice and mercy.
Ian Adair // Gracepoint Foundation
Simply put, Ian Adair builds successful nonprofits. He is three-time nonprofit CEO; a recognized expert in leadership, fundraising, and nonprofit management; and one of the most sought-after speakers for nonprofit conferences and leadership events around the country. Ian has had success leading corporate and nonprofit teams, volunteer boards, and front-line staff around the country. Ian has more than 20 years of fundraising, program management, training, and communications experience in the nonprofit, education, and corporate sector. Over that time he has raised tens of millions of dollars, managed hundreds of employees, and authored curriculum for numerous education, board development, and employee training programs.
Ian introduced the nonprofit sector to the concept of Attention-Focused Fundraising in order to help nonprofits break through the noise, improve donor retention and engagement, and win donor time.
In 2016, Ian was chosen as one of the Top 100 Must-Follow Giving Influencers on Twitter, by Give Local America. During 2019, Ian was named as one of the Top 100 Charity Industry Influencers on Social Media in the World by Onalytica, an influencer relationship software company in London.
Ian is a speaker, author, and advocate concerning mental health awareness and addressing mental health in the workplace. He is the Executive Director of the Gracepoint Foundation in Tampa, Florida, the philanthropic arm of Gracepoint one of the largest behavioral health service providers in the state of Florida. Gracepoint impacts the lives of more than 25,000 individuals each year seeking mental health, homeless, and addiction services.
Sumaira Ahmed // The Sumaira Foundation
Prior to working in marketing/public relations, Sumaira worked as an actress/model in Bangladesh & India starring in numerous music videos, a documentary, and was the lead actress in an English-language independent film. She is also a classically-trained Kathak dancer and has performed at Madison Square Garden, Kodak Theatre, and the Rudolf Steiner Theatre. In 2010, Sumaira earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Boston University’s College of Communication. In the same year, she launched her lifestyle blog – Flower: The Converted Bostonian – essays covering topics ranging from relationships to restaurant reviews to relapses in her health.
During the summer of 2014, Sumaira was diagnosed with sero-negative Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder. In late 2014, she founded The Sumaira Foundation, which aims to raise global awareness of NMOSD while raising funds to help find a cure. In 2015, Sumaira became the 1st Miss Bangladesh-USA. Her social platform is the importance of education for all and its correlation to tolerance in Bangladesh.
The Sumaira Foundation is dedicated to generating global awareness of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), fundraising to help find a cure, and creating a community of support for patients + their caregivers.
Lynne & Victor Brick // John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation
The John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation was founded by Victor and Lynne Brick in memory of Victor’s oldest brother, John, who suffered from schizophrenia and died from complications from the disease.
“We have seen first-hand how devastating mental illness can be. My (Victor’s) brother was the apple of my parents eye; their pride and joy. But as his condition worsened it began to take a terrible toll on John, my parents, and the entire family.” – C. Victor Brick, Co-Founder
The mission of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation is to fund and promote evidence-based research on how different forms of holistic treatments such as exercise, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices benefit mental health.
Lynne and Victor believe that exercise, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle are an important part of maintaining good mental health. The challenge is determining how. The organizations first step in that direction is the landmark, two-year, gold-standard study they are funding, conducted by world-renowned researcher Dr. Elissa Epel and the University of California/San Francisco.
The study will be comparing three groups: the control group that does nothing, the Wim Hof Method (WHM) group that does Wim Hof’s breathing exercises and extreme cold training, and the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) group to determine how the body responds to these forms of positive stress as it relates to depression and mental health.
Nicole Cardoza // Yoga Foster
Nicole felt compelled to start Yoga Foster after her experience as a volunteer yoga instructor in schools. Realizing first-hand the lack of accessibility to physical activity, she started training public school teachers tools for effective yoga in the classroom. She’s since left behind a career in tech to bring Yoga Foster to scale, relying on her background in both mobile and web development and yoga training and teaching. She’s a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, a TEDx speaker, and has been featured in SELF, Paper, and Wanderlust.
Yoga Foster provides free and low-cost training, lesson plans, yoga mats and more for educators to bring yoga and mindfulness in the classrooms. To make it possible, the organization rally’s the wellness community to put their practice into action – raising funds, donating gently-used mats, and advocating for the wellness of everyone in their community, no matter how small.
Kurt Soderlund // Safe Water Network
Kurt is the founding CEO of Safe Water Network and a member of its Board of Directors. He has applied both his private sector and not-for-profit experiences to develop the organization’s market and growth strategies and conceive of the organization’s business models to address the considerable challenges of fragmented, base-of-the-pyramid markets. He also built Safe Water Network’s international presence, which now includes offices in Accra, New Delhi, and New York City, supporting multiple field initiatives and market development programs.
His initial experience with international challenges and not-for-profits was as special assistant to the president of the New School University in New York City, where he supported several new initiatives, including the university’s international programs and the president’s work as Chairman of Human Rights Watch. This included travel to nearly all countries in East and Central Europe and Central Asia, with a focus on the role of civil society in transitional governments and economies. His private sector experience includes co-founding NorthStar Partners, a business development consultancy in healthcare, and an internet start-up spun out of Marketing Corporation of America and funded by leading technology firms.
Katie Heggtveit // Bootcamps for Change
Katie is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and founder of Bootcamps for Change. She first started working with youth experiencing homelessness when she was young.
When Katie saw funding was cut for youth experiencing homelessness to access fitness programs, she started the initiative “Bootcamps for Change”. Since August 2017, “Bootcamps for Change” has facilitated and organized weekly in-shelter health & fitness programs for youth experiencing homelessness in Toronto: Horizons for Youth, Eva’s Initiatives & Yonge Street Mission.
The programs allow youth to improve their physical health, mental health, and resilience. The organization has impacted over 1000 youth in the Toronto community.
After seeing first-hand the natural athletic ability of youth she was meeting, the organization started the “#SweatierForTheBetter” scholarship. This funds fitness certification for homeless youth, in addition to providing any career or mentorship resources they may need. The recipients are subsequently paid by the organization to facilitate fitness programs to their peers in shelters, in addition to being connected with local mentorship and job opportunities. Both scholarship recipients that have certified in Toronto are currently in full-time positions at LA and Goodlife Fitness in Toronto, exiting the shelter system.
Bootcamps for Change will be launching all over Canada in 2020!
Marit & Andrew Miners // Misool Foundation
Misool Foundation’s work began in 2005, when we leased 100,000 acres/425 sq km of sea from the local community in South Raja Ampat, Indonesia. At the centre of this area was a stunning uninhabited island called Batbitim. Its white beach was strewn with the carcasses of dead baby sharks, whose fins had been removed to supply the shark fin soup trade.
In 2006, construction work began on the site of the former shark-finning camp. The primary objective was to establish a conservation centre. But a funding vehicle was necessary to keep the conservation work happening. And so Misool, the resort, was born. The resort was built entirely of reclaimed wood, and not a single tree was cut down in the process.
Misool Foundation (called Yayasan Misool Baseftin in Indonesian) is the registered charity arm of the private island resort, Misool. The organisation has a proven track record of delivering measurable conservation results in some of the most remote and challenging locations in the world.
The joint mission is to safeguard the the most biodiverse reefs on Earth through the empowerment of local communities, providing a structure by which they are able to reclaim their traditional tenureship of reefs. The Foundation maintains a broad approach to conservation, combining environmental, social, and educational elements.
At the core of the operation is the belief that sustainable tourism and community-based conservation are mutually beneficial. Marit & Andrew seek to demonstrate to local hosts, government, and guests that sustainable tourism can provide a better life than logging, mining, or overfishing.
Misool Foundation is now expanding its mission to address pressing conservation issues across Indonesia, by developing programs and campaigns focused on safeguarding threatened species and important marine habitats.
Ashley Jones // Love Not Lost
Just 21 months after becoming a mom, Ashley lost her first and only daughter Skylar to a terminal illness. The experience changed her drastically: deepening her desire to help others and transforming her into someone who can sit in the suffering.
Ashley created Love Not Lost with a founding mission to celebrate life, preserve memories, and support people in grief. At the launch, Love Not Lost would provide a portrait session and a beautiful photo album for anyone facing a terminal diagnosis at no cost to them. As the program continued to grow and Ashley booked more speaking engagements, she saw a need in the community to bridge the gap between people who are hurting and people who want to help but are afraid and don’t know what to say or do.
The Community Support Program is that bridge. Empathy cards and tools like HowCanILoveYouBetter.com are designed to equip and empower people to show up and support someone they know who could use the help.
The newest program to launch is the Corporate Care Program: bringing grief and empathy training to the workplace, specifically in leadership. The impact creates a powerful ripple effect into the community at work and at home. As the three programs evolved, a greater mission now leads the cause: to revolutionize the way we heal in grief.
Dr. Patricia Gordon // Cure Cervical Cancer
Her commitment to saving women’s lives from a preventable disease propelled Dr. Gordon to establish CureCervicalCancer (CCC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer worldwide. CCC brings access to life-saving screening and treatment to underserved women in resource-poor countries. As a non-profit leader and an international women’s health advocate, Patricia has dedicated her life to overcoming the tragic epidemic of cervical cancer.
With early detection and treatment, cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable, yet every 2 minutes it claims a woman’s life. A disproportionate 90% of these deaths occur in resource-poor countries due to lack of access to basic healthcare.
CCC trains healthcare professionals and community health workers in the “See & Treat” method and partners with healthcare facilities to offer quality screening and treatment services, community-based outreach and education, and referral and follow-up linkages.
To date, CCC has screened over 120,000 women, treated 7,800, trained 600+ healthcare professionals, 150+ community health educators, and established 93 sustainable cervical cancer prevention clinics in 9 different countries.
Andra Liemandt // The Kindness Campaign
Andra Liemandt is the founder and CEO of The Kindness Campaign(TKC), a national nonprofit devoted to research-based emotional intelligence and anti-bullying. Launched in 2015,
After suffering the loss of a dear family friend—a child, age 12—to suicide, Andra started a conversation with her own children about feelings and emotions. That process inspired Andra to create a rudimentary “feelings journal.” Several printed copies and graphic design trials later, she took them to her daughter’s classroom. When the principal requested journals for the whole school—and soon, for four more campuses—a new nonprofit was born. The Kindness Campaign officially launched in 2015.
TKC is on a mission to normalize emotional health. We know bullying, loneliness, and isolation exist; instead of allowing these states to go unchecked, we provide positive and accessible tools that promote emotional health. TKC is on a mission to create societal change by teaching emotional awareness, empathy, community building, and most importantly, the development of a healthy self-image.
TKC designs interactive SEL (social emotional learning) curriculum and programming for schools and workplaces, with a focus on developing kind leaders and emotionally aware schools and companies. Under Andra’s leadership, TKC’s reach grew from five schools to 82 in two years, and today, serves over 40,000 students. Over the past two years, the organization has partnered with Bumble, KIND Bars, Dell Inc., Nordstrom, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to bring TKC’s on-site programming to children and adults nationwide.
Nelson Jia Jun Ng // ProjectED
At the young age of 21, Nelson founded ProjectEd, a student-led NGO which empowers underprivileged students in Malaysia to pursue their tertiary education dreams. As a first-generation college student from rural area in Malaysia, he is fortunate to secure a full-ride scholarship to pursue his tertiary education in the United Kingdom.
ProjectEd provide financial and knowledge support for underprivileged students (low-income families & indigenous community) to pursue their tertiary education dreams. ProjectEd has launched Knowledge Is Free Scholarship Programme, the first and only student-led scholarship fund in Malaysia, which provided 8 outstanding students with full scholarships (worth USD 1,200 each) to pursue their tertiary education in local universities. With more than 60 students contributing RM 45 (USD 10) monthly to the scholarship fund, ProjectEd aims to support 20 students’ education dream by 2020. For scholars, By Scholars.
Besides, ProjectEd has impacted more than 2,000 students through their unique workshops on sharing tertiary education opportunities. With the support of over 100 student volunteers, ProjectEd has organised workshops around secondary schools in Malaysia to share about tertiary education opportunities, closing the opportunity gap to access tertiary education.
Nelson is a passionate advocate of education equality as he believes Knowledge Is Free, Education Is Expensive. He has spoken in various events including TEDxPetaling Street (as the youngest speaker since 7 years of establishment), World Business Dialogue, and ASEAN Youth Summit. He is also a Dalai Lama Fellow, Clinton Global University Initiative Fellow, and Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellow under the sponsorship of US Department of State.
Wes Meier // EOS International
Wes is the co-founder and CEO of EOS International, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides rural families in Central America access to low-cost high-impact solutions which allows families to climb out of poverty.
Over 85% of Central Americans do not have access to safe drinking water as their water sources are contaminated with bacteria, causing harmful health issues in the population, particularly children. With a comprehensive approach, EOS provides cost-effective safe drinking water solutions at the community level.
Since the creation of EOS in 2008, EOS has directly impacted over 540,000 Central Americans.
After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University, Wes worked as an Agriculture Specialist with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, Central America, where he also co-founded EOS. Prior to stepping up as CEO of EOS, Wes initiated a West African manufacturing facility which fabricated agricultural processing equipment in Senegal, managed manufacturing partnerships in China, and lead a human-centered design innovation lab in Malawi using several public and private partners.
He is a Global Shaper Alumni (an initiative of the World Economic Forum), currently serves on several nonprofit boards as well as sitting on the Advisory Council of the United States Global Leadership Coalition.
Hayley Santell // MADI Donations
Hayley is the founder of MADI Donations, the subsidiary of MADI Apparel, a woman-owned small business that manufactures a beautiful line of staple basics in the US, through woman owned cut and sew teams. For every garment purchased from the line that includes athleisure wear, intimates, robes, and loungewear, MADI Apparel donates a new pair of elegant underwear to a woman in need.
So far she has donated over 6,500 pairs of underwear. Santell founded MADI Donations to help round out the impact the company already makes by teaching at-risk women (some of the very same women who received donations pairs through MADI Apparel), to sew the donation pairs of underwear on commercial sewing machines. The MADI Makes training program has trained two at-risk women so far and is in the process of training two more women to sew commercially.
It’s a lifetime skill for these wonderful women. Once they graduate from the MADI Makes program, MADI Apparel, the for profit, hires them on a contract basis to sew the donation pairs.
Zack Mellette // Swope Dreams
Zack Mellette is the president and cofounder of Swope Dreams, a non profit organization working to provide creative solutions to affordable housing and community development projects in Atlanta, GA.
He co-founded Swope Dreams after the passing of his friend Drew Swope, who dedicated his professional life to providing more affordable housing options in Atlanta and encouraging more thoughtful, holistic development that looked beyond quick returns. Drew cared deeply for his family, friends, and the well being of the city he loved.
Drew’s death in October of 2017 left his family and broader community heartbroken, both for the loss someone who brought so much joy and energy to the people he loved, but also for the future ideas, projects, and justice work left undone by his sudden passing. He is sorely missed. The organizations hope is that Swope Dreams, in small ways, can exemplify the creative and passionate energy Drew brought to the fight for housing justice as well as the vision for what a thriving Atlanta might look like.
Before launching Swope Dreams, Zack worked in partnerships at Google in the Bay Area on three different product teams. His main professional interests are social impact work, using ethical technology to solve important problems, and civic engagement.
Matt Hill // One Tree Planted
Matt Hill is the founder of One Tree Planted, the fastest growing tree planting organization in the U.S., which has seen a 7900% growth in donations since its start in 2015 (jumping from 50,000 trees planted in 2015 to four million in 2019).
He began his entrepreneurial journey with a sustainable packaging company and quickly realized that many enterprises wanted to get involved with CSR initiatives but needed an ease of accessibility. So, Matt founded One Tree Planted with the goal to build relationships with enterprises and individuals in order to make it simple for people to get involved and help save the planet.
He started the organization with small tree planting events and had smaller brands on board. One Tree Planted rapidly started snowballing and is now working with Fortune 100 companies (Lyft, Adidas, Facebook, Netflix & many more).
Reforestation and purpose-driven companies are having a huge moment – which is something Matt predicted many years ago and is now continuing to scale his efforts to grow the organization using his original business model.
The impact One Tree Planted has on the planet is more than Matt could have ever imagined. It goes way beyond putting trees in the ground – it’s creating job opportunities, empowering women, protecting biodiversity, and repairing communities devastated by wildfires.
Colleen Clines // Anchal
Colleen is the Co-founder of Anchal, an innovative nonprofit creating sustainable jobs for women through fashion and empowering them to a life beyond the sex trade.
Colleen was taking a graduate seminar at the Rhode Island School of Design that took her on a trip to India in 2009, a trip that changed the trajectory of her life forever. While in India, Colleen was introduced to the exploitive world of the commercial sex trade and the extreme lack of opportunity for women in the community. It was in this moment she was inspired to design more than beautiful landscapes, she was determined to create positive social and environmental change using design.
In 2010, Anchal officially became a non-profit and expanded the project by partnering with Vatsalya, an NGO in Ajmer. Today, Anchal has trained and employed over 500 women and is an internationally recognized brand known for award-winning designs and handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that empower exploited women living in India and Kentucky.
Mariam Matin | Phil Dearing | Brigit Goebelbecker // Second Day
Two years ago, these co-founders started Second Day, an organization dedicated to bridging the talent gap in social impact. The talent gap refers to the pattern of 60% of millennials reporting wanting mission to be a part of their career, but only 20% entering the industry in any capacity. They wanted to identify the root causes behind the gap, and narrow it however they could.
Mariam, Phil, and Brigit developed the Second Day Impact Fellowship to support seniors at Harvard, Georgetown, Rice, and University of Texas at Austin who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership potential, and a commitment to social impact.
The fellowship is totally unique in the landscape. They focus on helping fellows understand the nuances of the social impact industry to identify what area they are best suited to step into, connect them to mentors in their sectors of interest to offer more tactical advice, and cover professional skill development (everything from the basics of Excel to on-the-job productivity best practices).
Finally, they have created employer partners who have agreed to do informational interviews with fellows to give them that final push to finding that first job out of college to really kickstart what will hopefully be a long-standing career working on anything from the housing crisis to environmental justice advocacy.
The organizations theory is that by unlocking more high-potential talent who dedicate their careers to untangling some of society’s most complex challenges, that we’ll see the long-lasting changes we all desire.