Our Team

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Marina Kim Co-Founder and Executive Director

Marina’s work in social entrepreneurship dates back over 15 years. She co-founded and leads Ashoka U, which works with colleges and universities to embed social innovation as an educational focus and a strategic approach to aligning the university’s culture, programs and operations. To date, Ashoka U has worked with over 400 institutions globally. Marina’s writing on institutional change and higher education innovation has been featured in Forbes.com, SSIR.org, and the Diversity & Democracy Journal, and Ashoka U has been featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Huffington Post and The New York Times. Marina was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship and is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Northampton. Marina holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

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Beeta Ansari COO

Beeta is Ashoka U’s COO. In this role, Beeta leads Ashoka U’s strategic planning, staffing, budgeting and organizational design. In addition to her responsibilities as COO, Beeta also serves as Director of the Ashoka U Exchange, a global convening for social entrepreneurship education and Director of the Ashoka U Commons, an online learning platform that supports university leaders to advance social innovation offerings on their campus. Beeta has been with the Ashoka U team since 2009. Previously, Beeta worked as a Procurement Manager at a high-growth tech startup and tutored students at KIPP Academy in Houston. Beeta graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BS in Economics.

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Angie Fuessel Director, Changemaker Campus

Angie oversees the strategy and operations of Changemaker Campus selection, renewal, and network in support of field-level change. In this role, she works to identify exemplar campuses and enhance individual and institutional transformative capacity, while catalyzing and equipping teams of teams in collaborating to make social innovation synonymous with higher education. She draws from over 15 years’ experience working to foster effectiveness and transformation amongst individuals, organizations, and systems. Amongst previous roles, she has served as both an independent and management consultant across the sectors in the US and abroad and as an advisor for the government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. To Ashoka U, she brings both a deep practice expertise in organizational strategy, development, change leadership, and transformation and doctoral studies on complex adaptive systems, social innovation, and systemic social change. She earned an EdD in Human and Organizational Learning from The George Washington University and also holds an MBA from the University of Oxford. Angie is currently pursuing the USASBE Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, higher education track.

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Jessica Lax Growth & Partnerships Director

Jessica’s focus is on increasing Ashoka U’s breadth of impact. She leads Ashoka U’s thought leadership and digital strategy, refining Ashoka U’s messages to reach new audiences.  Based in Ottawa, and as a past member of the Ashoka Canada team, Jess also brings a global lens to Ashoka U’s work.  Through partnerships with higher education networks, she is building an increasingly global, and more representative campus network.  An accomplished social entrepreneur, Jess has been working on spreading ideas in the social impact education space for more than 15 years. Her early experience was as a co-founder of an award-winning environmental organization that scaled across Canada, and the UK. She went on to launch an online school for changemakers, and develop a city-wide collaborative to support social enterprises.  Jessica was awarded a Skoll Scholarship for her work and holds an MBA from Saîd Business School at Oxford University.

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Hattie Duplechain Knowledge Curator

As Knowledge Curator, Hattie leads research and impact measurement efforts for the Ashoka U team. Hattie focuses on information collection and curation to document the effects of social innovation and changemaking education, and to inform knowledge product development. Before joining Ashoka U Hattie worked as a primary and secondary level teacher, initially as a 2010-2011 U.S. Fulbright grantee to Nepal and later as a founding teacher at a new charter school in Nashville, Tennessee. Hattie began her work at the intersection between social innovation and higher education as a Vittana Fellow, supporting the microfinance organization’s work to provide access to funding for higher education internationally. Hattie holds dual B.A. degrees in English and Communication Studies from Clemson University and a M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University.

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Emily Lamb Associate Director, Ashoka U Exchange

Emily is Associate Director of the Exchange. The Exchange is Ashoka U’s annual global convening of university faculty, staff, students, and social entrepreneurs. It provides a platform for visionary leaders to further develop a network and toolset to transform higher education into a hub for social innovation and social change. As Associate Director, Emily guides the annual planning cycle and execution of the Exchange with the goal of providing a meaningful, ongoing community of collaborators and thought partners. In 2014, Emily began as an intern at Ashoka U and worked to support various leadership development initiatives within the Ashoka U network. Prior to joining Ashoka U, Emily supported the growth of The Future Project, an Ashoka Fellow organization aiming to reinvigorate high schools into learning labs for 21st century leaders. As an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas, she directed the campus volunteer and service center, the Center for Community Outreach. She graduated in 2012 with honors and a degree in American Studies.

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Sarah-Marie Hopf Campus Partnerships Manager

As Partnerships Manager at Ashoka U, Sarah-Marie guides campus partners through the transformative Changemaker Campus selection process and helps them hone their strategies for advancing social innovation across the university. She also supports Ashoka U’s global scaling strategy. Sarah-Marie helped to launch and currently advises Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership (DSIL), a field-based executive education course in Southeast Asia in partnership with the UN-Mandated University for Peace, Centre for Executive Education. Previously, Sarah-Marie worked as a project strategist fellow with 17 Triggers, a mix between a marketing agency, design studio, and development consultancy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Prior to her time in Southeast Asia, Sarah-Marie designed and led a new storytelling initiative at Ashoka Changemakers in Washington, DC and worked with Ashoka Germany and Ashoka Globalizer in Berlin, Germany. At Dartmouth College, she researched the cross-cultural translation of human-centered design for her anthropology thesis involving fieldwork with four non-profits and social enterprises in the US, Myanmar, Nepal, and Cambodia. Sarah-Marie also co-founded two ventures to empower the Dartmouth community to address social and environmental problems on-campus and with the local community. Raised and educated between Germany, France, and the US, Sarah-Marie graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth with a BA in Anthropology modified with Economics and Development Studies.

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Luciana Goles Exchange Manager

Luciana joins the Ashoka U team as the Exchange Manager. In this capacity, she is responsible for driving forward a dynamic conference where participants can engage in transforming the higher education ecosystem into a catalyst for social innovation. Luciana started her Ashoka journey in the Chile office on 2014, focusing on connecting their higher education system with social innovators. Throughout her two years at Ashoka Chile she led the adaptation of the Ashoka U Commons program in Latin America, led the implementation of a regional Globalizer program, and contributed to the Youth Years experience in Chile. Before joining Ashoka, Luciana worked as the coordinator of entrepreneurship in the Economics Faculty of Universidad de Chile, working closely with students, staff members, and faculty on internal and external projects to support the entrepreneurs and innovators through the academic world. Her background is on business and economics, always pursuing the social stream of innovation.

Nimesh Ghimire Renewal Manager

Nimesh joined the Ashoka U team in early 2016 as Renewal Manager, responsible for designing, iterating and implementing the process of institutional re-commitment to social innovation education for Ashoka U’s Changemaker Campuses. He was deeply involved in experimenting with – and learning from – grassroots engagement and innovation models during his undergraduate years, having co-led the design and implementation of two Innovation Labs in rural Nepal – a collaboration and resource space for community members to come together to design their own solutions to pressing local challenges, supported by MIT and USAID. A member of the British Council’s Global Changemakers network, he also worked as part of World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Next Generation, providing youth voice and perspective to issues pertinent to the next generation. In 2009, Nimesh was selected as one of Asia-Pacific’s 100 most promising young social entrepreneurs by FYSE, a Hong-kong based foundation.

Nimesh graduated with a degree in Economics from Swarthmore College, where he was a Periclean Scholar.

Ali Fraenkel Commons Manager

As the Commons Manager Ali serves to plan, implement, integrate, and grow the Commons as Ashoka U’s newest program. She believes deeply in the creation of unique learning journeys, especially as they connect to the transformational role that institutions can play as leaders in the field of social innovation and in multi-level community building. Ali is thrilled to apply her experience in edtech, higher ed consulting, and strategic philanthropy to both Ashoka U and the Commons. Prior to joining Ashoka U, Ali was based in Boston working with the Learning by Giving Foundation to accelerate student grantmaking opportunities in higher ed institutions nationwide and to launch the first-ever MOOC for effective charitable giving. In her hometown of Rhinebeck, NY Ali co-founded the Ascienzo Family Foundation and remains very connected to the area in supporting the foundation’s operations, community partnerships, and annual grantmaking cycle. She is energized by social change in all forms and especially gravitates to education-based innovation, having also worked for social enterprises like DonorsChoose.org and Room to Read. Ali is a graduate of Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, Northeastern University, with a dual-degree in Human Services & International Affairs and concentrations in Social Entrepreneurship and Strategic Philanthropy. Living in service to others is Ali’s lifelong commitment — she currently serves on the advisory board of youth-powered Positive Tracks, is a founding Director of the Ascienzo Family Foundation, and is always eager to collaborate in ways that support the work and missions of fellow changemakers.

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Danica Straith Interim Canadian Director, Ashoka U

Danica leads Ashoka’s aim to make a changemaking education the new norm in the Canadian post secondary system. Her efforts span the search and selection of new Changemaker Campuses to working alongside campus leaders on institutional change management plans to animating the national network for field building and collaborations opportunities.

Danica’s role at Ashoka builds on her previous work with RECODE (an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation) to fuel a culture and practice of social innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education across the country. She has spent many years working with social entrepreneurs from around the world, including ecological sanitation entrepreneurs in Germany and Kenya and several community-based environmental management initiatives across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. Danica is also the co-founder of StreetSuds social enterprise – a transitional employment program for men and women struggling with homelessness in Montreal.

A native to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Danica has considered Montreal, Quebec as her home for the large part of the past ten years. Danica’s education includes a M.Sc. in Integrated Water Resources Management and an Honours B.A in International Development from McGill University.