Why Booth? Why Civic Scholars?

Chicago Booth and its Rustandy Center for Social Innovation offer the multi-disciplinary, experiential, collaborative approach I seek to learn the fundamentals of business and adapt them to the needs of our important social change work. The Civic Scholars Program offers a structured opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer analysis and interrogation of critical questions including: How can we resolve tensions between values-driven change work and powerful for-profit business metrics? How can we build tools for translating between them? How do we design investments that support the sequencing, iteration, and durability needs of long-term change efforts? I look forward to digging into these questions and so much more with my powerful cohort of fellow Civic Scholars and our Booth professors.

What are your career aspirations?

After completing my MBA, I’ll conclude The Village’s succession plan—a blueprint for preserving institutional knowledge; maintaining trusted community, funder, and partner relationships; institutionalizing organizational values; designing renewable revenue and capital; and building mentorship or apprenticeship opportunities that bring community residents into the leadership fold.

Once the organization’s new leadership is in place, I plan to combine the knowledge, networks and tools gained through my tenure at The Village with those from my experience in the Civic Scholars Program to help nonprofit social change organizations design and align smart combinations of revenue and capital (both monetary and human) to their values and to the whole of their mission.

What skills are you looking to develop at Booth and implement into your sector?

Since 2013, I’ve served as executive director for The Village of Arts and Humanities, an arts-based community development organization rooted in one of Philadelphia’s most disinvested neighborhoods. I led the organization out of a financial crisis, increased operating revenue 215 percent, and raised more than $10 million in capital investments. Today, The Village is fully revived and is widely regarded as a center for social innovation. Despite its tremendous growth and impact, The Village (and many similar social change enterprises) is still not growing at pace with the social inequities we seek to mitigate. We excel at launching innovative and impactful initiatives, but struggle to secure and manage sufficient resources to support the long-term work necessary for achieving multi-generational social progress. The financial and structural fragility of our ground-level efforts puts hard-won achievements in danger of regressing—it also puts the field at risk for losing the ideas and dedication of experienced, yet often discouraged innovators, at the very time when this work is needed most.

At Booth, I want to build muscles for addressing this systemic challenge. I want to develop my ability to strategically attract, manage, and leverage smarter combinations of revenue, investment capital, and human capital. Booth courses such as Impact Investing, Social Sector Strategy and Structure, and Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation offer the knowledge, frameworks and tools I seek. I am interested in learning how to adapt market-based interventions for social impact and how to assemble capital stacks using catalytic and market rate investments. I look forward to experimenting with techniques for structuring multi-party deals that integrate a range of sources from philanthropic to private sector, in order to fund innovative work that fosters long-term systemic change.

Which program format did you choose and why?

The Weekend MBA program provides the flexibility to maintain my current executive director role and apply new tools and concepts in real-time. Three immediate applications are 1) refining the investment strategy for the The Village's 100 Families project; 2) achieving and navigating mid-state enterprise growth and change; and 3) designing and operationalizing a multi-year leadership succession plan to prepare for my post-MBA transition.