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 2017 Coaches


Making the Case for Changemaking Education

Yusi Turell Co-Founder of the 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. Yusi is also a founding (and three-time returning!) Coach of the Ashoka U Commons program.

Creating a Social Innovation Course

Michelle Stecker Associate Director of Education at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University

As Associate Director of Education at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Academic Year Adjunct Lecturer, Michelle Stecker teaches and designs social innovation and entrepreneurship curriculum and helps lead the effort to integrate human-centered design thinking at SCU. Michelle created the world’s first Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited major in social entrepreneurship at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and is a founding coach for Ashoka U Commons. Her research focuses on civil rights law, nonprofit sustainability, innovation, and social entrepreneurship in the U.S. and developing world. Michelle holds a Ph.D. in American History and a J.D. from the University of Toledo, and is a member of the Ohio bar. Michelle earned her master’s of divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and studied at Princeton Theological Seminary; she is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. For her entire professional life, Michelle has worked with changemaker students who have the passion to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

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

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.

Building Allies and Raising Awareness

Jill Andres Director of the Trico Changemakers Studio and Changemaker in Residence at the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University

Jill Andres is the founder and principal of the social purpose consultancy, Creating Value Inc. Jill and the Creating Value team work alongside inspiring organizational leaders to amplify social impact though adaptive strategy, collective impact and systems change, service design, and social enterprise.Mount Royal University is where Jill has the privilege of spending a couple of days each week as ‘Changemaker in Residence: Social Enterprise and Innovation’ with the Institute for Community Prosperity. There, Jill is on the front-lines of systems change, working with a team to create a campus-wide culture of changemaking.

She is also currently working with another Alberta post-secondary on the development of a social innovation certificate program that will be open to changemakers far and wide.A lifelong volunteer, the current focus of Jill’s “extracurricular” energy is REAP Calgary, where she supports the Be Local movement as chair of REAP’s board.