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 co-facilitate calls with their entire cohort, conduct individual calls to advise each institution on establishing objectives for their project, host office hours for their cohort, and offer pinpointed feedback to Commons participants at the conclusion of their experience on how to continue embedding this work at their institutions.


Spring 2018 Coaches


Creating a Social Innovation Course

C. Sara L. Minard, PhD. Executive Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business; Ashoka U Change Leader

Sara Minard is a socio-economist, educator, researcher, and development practitioner with twenty years of experience in private sector development, international economic development policy, social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Currently Executive Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Dr. Minard teaches courses on impact investing and social finance, social innovation, global social entrepreneurship, and field-based courses on design, gender, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable development in India.

Her current research is on measuring and managing social and environmental impact at the intersection of investing, business, sustainable development, faith, and human capabilities. Prior to academia, Minard was a policy analyst for the OECD in Paris where she managed projects in 18 countries in West Africa on private sector development and regional competitiveness. As an international consultant, she works for international organizations (World Bank/IFC), international NGOs and companies on designing and financing sustainable development solutions to poverty. Minard earned her PhD in economics from Sciences Po, Paris, where her research on informal entrepreneurship in Senegal and the power of social capital in achieving human capabilities in the context of weak states received highest honors from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

She has a dual Master Degree in International Affairs from Sciences Po and Columbia University, where for five years she taught the core course on Methods for Development Practice, introduced courses in social entrepreneurship, and served for two years as faculty appointee on Columbia’s Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing. She served as a small business development volunteer for three years with the U.S. Peace Corps in Senegal, as Legislative Assistant in the U.S Senate, speaks fluent French and Wolof, and serves on the board of several sustainable businesses, primarily in clean energy and women’s empowerment, as well as advises impact investors and funds in the U.S., Senegal, and India.

Launching Co-Curricular Venture Programs

Julia Lang Program Manager at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, Tulane University 

As the Program Manager for Student Programming, Lang oversees Taylor’s Changemaker Institute; leads design thinking workshops; teaches a senior seminar and Taylor Your Life, a life-design course for undergraduate and graduate students; supervises Taylor Student Fellow; and creates and leads student programming in social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and design thinking.

While earning her Master’s in College Student Services Administration at Oregon State University, Lang helped launch the Center for Civic Engagement, where she created the alternative break program and promoted student engagement and activism via experiential service activities throughout Oregon, Washington, and California. Julia’s interest in social innovation and experiential education prompted her to lead students on service-learning semesters in Central America and Southeast Asia, intern with Habitat for Humanity in Sri Lanka, and teach at the University of California-Berkeley’s Civic Leadership Institute. Due to her transformative community engagement experiences, her Master’s thesis focused on the impact of service learning on student global citizenship.

Lang has a B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University, and a M.S. from Oregon State University.

Mapping Student Learning Journeys

 Cynthia Sarver Assistant Director, Social Innovation Collaboratory, University of St. Thomas – Minnesota; Ashoka U Change Leader

As a founding member of St. Thomas’s Social Innovation Collaboratory, Cynthia co-creates changemaking opportunities with St. Thomas students, faculty, staff, and community members. She manages the campus Change Team; leads changemaking workshops for students, faculty, and staff; mentors student social innovators; and collaborates with stakeholders across campus and in the community to help further develop St. Thomas’s changemaking ecosystem and, in keeping with the University’s mission, make change for the common good. Cynthia has long been a proponent of changemaker education.

Prior to St. Thomas, she spent nearly a decade working as a teacher educator where she helped pre-service and in-service teachers rethink the potential of their classrooms as a place for activating students’ passions, purpose, and potential through technology-enhanced, community-engaged learning. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Educational Technology from Boise State University.

Building Allies and Raising Awareness

Jerrid Kalakay Social Entrepreneurship Coordinator an Professor at Valencia College

Jerrid is an entrepreneur, educator, and change agent with a passion for assisting others in becoming the best versions of themselves. He has over 15 years of experience in leadership development, higher education, organization innovation, and change management. Jerrid leads a guiding coalition at Valencia College around social innovation and entrepreneurship education and also plays a lead role in convening key institutions across the Floridian social innovation education space.

A recent graduate of the Doctoral program in Leadership and Change program at Antioch University, Jerrid has a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Florida State University and two Bachelor Degrees in Management and Marketing from the University of North Florida.