Heather MacCleoud, Chief Network Officer
Heather MacCleoud, PhD has been developing global partnerships to address global issues for 20 years. With a focus on higher education, she has created strategic opportunities for international engagement and collaboration in service of sustainable and inclusive development. Most recently, her focus has been on developing global communities of practice and research. Dr. MacCleoud works closely with individuals, organizations, associations, and government entities to leverage the higher education sector to create a world where Everyone is a Changemaker.
In addition to her work at Ashoka, she is chief executive officer for the Asherah Foundation, a nonprofit focused on supporting women around the world who need a second chance through higher education. She also sits on the Nonprofit Council to advise U-Pledge, a venture-backed FinTech platform which aims to revolutionize the way people donate to nonprofits, political campaigns, and crowdfunding platforms. MacCleoud received her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri where she focused her research on connecting the individual lived experiences of underserved women seeking to access higher education around the world with global policies designed to support their access. She also has an entrepreneurial background, having founded a higher education consortium while working at the Department of Higher Education for Missouri.
Eidi Cruz-Valdivieso, Director, Higher Education Engagement
Eidi Cruz-Valdivieso has extensive experience with social entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and within the higher education sector. For over 15 years Eidi collaborated and worked in community-driven development within marginalized communities in urban and rural settings in Mexico, co-creating programs that encouraged communities to find their own priorities and solutions, and providing educational opportunities for all. For several years, Eidi also directed a global prize awarded to high-impact social innovators, significantly amplifying its reach to 70 countries. Previously, Eidi worked at the London School of Economics consulting on intellectual capital and co-creation processes within small and medium enterprises. Eidi is a licensed psychologist by background, following undergraduate studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and has practiced as a clinical and community psychologist in Mexico. She obtained a master’s degree with distinction from the London School of Economics in organizational and social psychology and also holds a master’s degree in social innovation from the University of Cambridge, where she was the inaugural recipient of the Cambridge Judge Business School and St Edmund’s College Social Innovation Scholarship. Eidi loves the performing arts and during her time in London, she also studied acting. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK, and currently lives in Washington, DC.
Charmaine Lyn, Director, Changemaker Education, Ashoka Canada
Charmaine works closely with Canada’s seven designated Changemaker campuses and their change leaders to deepen and accelerate field-level collaboration and transformation in Canadian post-secondary. In this role, Charmaine is leading Ashoka Canada’s targeted efforts to build upon growing momentum for social impact work in Canadian higher ed by identifying and accompanying prospective Canadian campuses through the designation process. Charmaine draws from over 15 years’ experience advancing equity, diversity, social accountability, and decolonization as drivers of post-secondary institutional change. Prior to joining Ashoka, Charmaine was Senior Director of the Office of Community Engagement at Concordia University in Montreal, where she also served as a Special Advisor to the Provost on Indigenous Directions, and stewarded the launch of the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation. Charmaine also previously directed recruitment and admissions to McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Law. Born in Jamaica and raised in Tio’ tia:ke (Montreal), where she currently resides, Charmaine is a first-generation university attendee and lawyer by training. She holds a BA in English Literature and BCL (Civil Law) and LL.B. (common law) degrees from McGill University. She speaks English and French.
Diana Wells, Ashoka President Emerita & Ashoka U Advisor
Dr. Diana Wells is President Emerita and member of Ashoka’s Global Leadership Team.
Diana first joined Ashoka after graduating from Brown University in 1988 when social entrepreneurship was still a new word. Diana took a leave from Ashoka to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology at New York University. Her ethnographic research focused on understanding how social change happens as a local articulation of a global social movement and resulted in her dissertation: Between the Difference: The Emergence of a Cross Ethnic Women’s Movement in Trinidad and Tobago. She returned to her work at Ashoka building tools to measure systems change social impact, directed Ashoka’s global selection of social entrepreneurs, and was named President of Ashoka in 2005.
Diana has been named both a Fulbright and a Woodrow Wilson Scholar, is a Trustee Emerita of Brown University, previously served on the Advisory Board for the Center of Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and GuideStar International’s Board. Diana taught anthropology at Georgetown University and has authored and edited numerous journal and book publications including two compilations on social movements in the United States.
Diana has received several awards for her work. In 2012, the Brown Alumni Association presented her with the William Rogers Award, its highest honor, George Mason University awarded her their inaugural Social Innovation Champion in 2011, and, in 2007, Diana was celebrated as one of the 10 winners of the first annual Women to Watch award by Running Start, a DC-based organization that empowers young women to be political leaders.
Brenda Villegas, Leader of Children and Youth Initiative, Ashoka Mexico
Brenda leads the Children and Youth initiative for Ashoka Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, she is Co-founder and Director of Conciencias Unidas A.C. and is part of the global youth network “Global Changemakers”. She has a degree in Marketing and is a Master in Educational Innovation for Sustainability. Brenda has represented the voice of youth in different organizations, movements in national and international events, she is a facilitator of learning experiences to promote changemaking and her dream is a world where we have more spaces of hope that allow us to recognize ourselves and act as changemakers.
Anudini Wijayarathna, Communications Intern
Anudini oversees Ashoka U’s social media and website. She engages in content creation and assists in our communications and partnerships projects, stakeholder mapping, and publications design. She holds an MSc in rural development and natural resource management from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Anudini has experience in research and organizational communication at SLU Global and project coordination assistance in a World Bank Project for higher education. She also studied English language and literature, international relations and public administration through her bachelor’s diploma and post-graduate studies. She is deeply passionate about sustainable community-driven development through research and higher education. Anudini has roots in Sri Lanka and lives in Uppsala, Sweden. She speaks English, Sinhala and Swedish.