Each cohort of the Commons is facilitated by a Coach with in-depth knowledge of social innovation and an understanding of the field that is aligned with Ashoka U’s philosophy. Coaches will draw on their extensive experience working in university settings and within in the field of social innovation education.

Participants will work closely with their Coach over the course of their Commons experience. Specifically, Coaches will conduct an introductory call with the entire cohort, host individual calls to advise each institution on establishing objectives for their project, host office hours for their cohort, and conduct a live review of final presentations at the conclusion of the Commons.

Fall 2016 Coaches

Making the Case for Changemaking Education


Yusi Turell Co-Founder, Center for Social Innovation & Enterprise at University of New Hampshire

Yusi Wang Turell served as founding co-director of UNH’s Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, a joint venture between the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Paul College of Business and Economics. Yusi stepped down from her Center role in February 2016 in order to focus on her Ph.D. dissertation, a partnership with Ashoka to explore how social entrepreneurs affect public policies that, in turn, help their market-based social innovations to reach scale. Prior to joining UNH in 2011, Yusi led new initiatives at Citizen Schools, a national network of volunteer-led apprenticeship programs for low-income middle school students. Previously, Yusi worked as a strategy consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Innovation. She holds a B.S.E. in civil engineering from Princeton University and an M.Phil. in technology and innovation management from the University of Sussex through a British Marshall Scholarship.

Creating a Social Innovation Course

Jacen Greene Interim Director, Social Enterprise Initiatives – Impact Entrepreneurs; Social Entrepreneurship Director, Portland State University School of Business

Jacen Greene teaches social entrepreneurship courses and manages social innovation programs at Portland State University’s School of Business, including the Social Innovation Certificate, Elevating Impact Summit, and Social Enterprise Field Studies. His articles and award-winning case studies have been published in the International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, VentureWell Proceedings, GlobaLens, Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, and the Oikos Case Quarterly. He has previously worked with or trained social entrepreneurs in Honduras, Nicaragua, India, Cambodia, and the United States. Jacen graduated Beta Gamma Sigma with an MBA in sustainability from Portland State University and magna cum laude with a B.A. in China Studies from Willamette University.

Building a Social Innovation Course Sequence


Tonia Warnecke Associate Professor, Social Entrepreneurship & Business; Co-Director, Center for India & South Asia at Rollins College

Dr. Tonia Warnecke is a 2016-17 Sullivan Foundation Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow. She was the 2013 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in International Development Studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Tonia is an economist specializing in international development processes and policy. At Rollins, Tonia co-designed the Social Entrepreneurship major and minor, is faculty advisor to the Rollins Microfinance Fund, and actively participates in strategic planning for social entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives. Her recent publications focus on social enterprise and solar power; microfinance and ‘greening’ gender equity; and the application of design thinking to the development of female entrepreneurship programs. She also co-edited the Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life (Edward Elgar). In addition to publishing widely in international journals, she has been awarded many research honors and grants; presented several papers at the International Labour Organization; and collaborated with the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development.

Launching Co-Curricular Venture Programs

Michael Gordon Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business Administration, University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Michael Gordon is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business Administration and former associate dean at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, where he teaches students how innovative nonprofits and social businesses can change the world. He is the faculty director of the Center for Social Impact and served on the University of Michigan “Poverty Visioning” committee, which directly advises the President and Provost.

He has had broad experience helping organizations around the world use their talents to address societal problems, and do so sustainably, and has also helped students and others launch nonprofits and social enterprises. He has partnered with many prominent scholars, nonprofits, and social businesses to address societal problems.

He is author of the books Social Enterprise and Sustainable Business: Design Your Life, Change the World and Inclusivity: Will America Find its Soul Again? He is working on a new book, What I Wish I Knew Then: Becoming a Social Entrepreneur. He is actively exploring how nonprofits and social businesses can create more inclusive environments in the United States, especially Detroit.

He lives online at profmichaelgordon.com.

Mapping Student Learning Journeys

Makaela Kingsley Director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Wesleyan University

Makaela directs Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE), a co-curricular program that teaches practical skills for impact to undergraduate entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and changemakers. Along with our civic engagement partners — the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life (ACSPL) and the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) — the Patricelli Center offers a project-based learning experience with emphasis on interdisciplinary context, cultural competency, and relationship-building. As PCSE Director, Makaela also teaches a course through ACSPL entitled “Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship.”

Previously, Makaela held positions in Wesleyan’s advancement division focused on alumni relations, volunteer management, and event planning. She began her career at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts where she worked in development and public relations. Outside of the Patricelli Center, Makaela volunteers on the Advisory Board of a civil rights nonprofit called Open Communities Alliance, on Wesleyan’s Equity Task Force, as a mentor for the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, and as a judge for Echoing Green. She lives in Hamden, CT, with her husband and two children.

Building Allies and Raising Awareness

Melissa Carrier Social Entrepreneur in Residence, North Carolina State University; Founder of the Center for Social Value Creation, University of Maryland

Melissa Carrier is the founder and former Executive Director of the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Melissa joined the Smith School in the 2006 after a decade of leading organizational growth for technology companies. Before launching the Center for Social Value Creation in 2009, Melissa led venture investment programs at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. During this time, she noticed increasing student interest in creating companies to address issues in society and the environment. She created the Social Venture Consulting program, a platform for students to apply their skills in designing scalable solutions for nonprofit and social enterprise organizations. At the Center for Social Value Creation, Melissa led the center’s strategic direction across co-curricular programs, curricula, research and career. In collaboration with the Provost’s office, Melissa led cross-campus initiatives to embed social entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Melissa taught undergraduate and graduate courses in social entrepreneurship and sustainability, receiving the Top 10% teaching award each year. Melissa currently lives with her husband and three boys in Raleigh, NC. She serves as a strategic consultant to universities including North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Melissa holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Ohio State University and an MBA with Honors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.