2016 Penn-Columbia Impact House

Amanda Raposoamanda-raposo

Amanda graduated in May 2011 from New York University with a B.S. in Social Work and a minor in Social Entrepreneurship. She is currently an MBA candidate at Columbia University. Amanda is the founder of Powerhouse NYC, a non-profit organization that strives to help moms achieve financial stability and economic empowerment. This mission is sustained by its fundraising arm, Project Playdate, an experiential child care service that curates social and educational drop off events for kids. In recognition of her work, Amanda was the grand prize winner of the Youth Venture “Be a Changemaker” challenge in 2008, a finalist in the Harvard Business for Good Competition, a semi-finalist in the NYU Stern Social Venture Competition and recipient of the Dean’s Award for Social Innovation in both 2010 and 2011. Amanda was published in The New Yorker 2014 Weddings Edition for her expertise in child care and received the 2013 Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Award on behalf of Project Playdate for “Best drop off child care service in New York.” Through Project Playdate, Amanda specializes in using the power of play-time to foster children’s social, creative, motor, and leadership skills. Amanda is very passionate about creating sustainable social impacts and serving families across communities.

Venture: 

Project Playdate projectplaydate.org

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | Business School, 2017

 


Carolina Fonsecacarolina-fonseca

Carolina Fonseca, MA, was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and recently completed her master’s degree in economic development at Columbia University in New York. She is an economist with experience in creating economic growth and social outcomes through corporate finance, microfinance, rural development, small and medium enterprise development, base of the pyramid strategies, and social entrepreneurship. Carolina is a rice & beans enthusiast and a Netflix aficionado.

Venture: 

LAP IMPORT www.lapimport.com

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of International and Public Affairs, 2015

 


Carrie-Maldovan

Carrie Maldovan

Carrie Maldovan is the Co-Founder of Above Safaris, a responsible and sustainable tourism company based in Arusha, Tanzania. Above Safaris seeks to educate, empower, and effect change in the community by using tourism to provide good jobs, support local businesses, and channel funding into sustainable community development projects. Prior to founding Above Safaris, Carrie lived in Tanzania and served as the first Social Impact Director at a growing tourism company. Currently, Carrie also manages the programs and operations at The Adventure Project, a nonprofit organization committed to ending extreme poverty by creating jobs in developing countries. She holds an MS in Social Work focused on social enterprise administration and international social welfare, and recently helped develop and co-teach the first class at Columbia’s School of Social Work focused on equipping students with the tools to tackle the world’s problems as savvy social entrepreneurs using market-based interventions. She currently lives in Brooklyn, loves live music, and of course, loves anything to do with travel.

Venture: 

Above Safaris www.abovesafaris.com

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of Social Work, 2015

 


 

Diana Engel Gerbasediana-engel-gerbase

Diana Engel Gerbase is the founder and executive director of Praxis, a nonprofit social venture that researches, develops, and supports the delivery of experiential civic educational programs for high school students in Brazil. Diana holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University (Class of 2016) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, from which she graduated with honors and was the class valedictorian. Diana has always been passionate about understanding the role of civil society in holding governments accountable, maintaining democratic institutions and promoting well-being. After working for the private sector in management and strategy consulting and in business development, she decided to dedicate her career to the creation and growth of Praxis. In the summer of 2015, Praxis executed its pilot program in a public state school in Porto Alegre, Brazil, involving 104 high school freshmen and women, 2 teachers and 4 local civic leaders and with the support of distinguished institutions, including the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity from the Earth Institute, the Davis Projects for Peace, and the Institute of Latin American Studies from Columbia University. Diana is also a Women’s International Leadership Program Fellow from International House New York.

Venture: 

Praxis

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of International and Public Affairs, 2016

 


 

Edgar Ortegaedgar-ortega

Edgar is the Founder & CEO of Avanza, a social venture with the goal of helping Hispanic-owned small business grow. Prior to Avanza, he worked 14 years at American Express holding multiple roles with primary focus on Pricing and Finance analytics. Edgar holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, he is native of Mexico and currently lives in New Jersey with his wife Suzanne and 3 boys, Ari, Luca and Mateo.

Venture: 

Avanza Lending www.avanza.us

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | Business School, 2015

 


 

Edun Selaedun-sela

Edun Sela is a Project Manager at the Reut Group and a graduate student at Columbia University’s SIPA. Prior to Reut, he specialized in M&A and High-Tech at Israel’s largest law firm, worked at Israel’s Prime Minster’s Office, and served as a commander in an elite counter-terrorism unit in the Israel Defense Forces. Edun holds an LL.B. in Law and Government (Cum Laude) and an LL.M. in Business Law (Cum Laude), from the IDC Herzliya. During his studies, Edun coordinated a legal aid clinic and provided consulting services to nonprofit organizations. A passionate trekker, Edun traveled in 30+ countries and completed the Israel National Trail (620 miles) in 52 days.

Venture: 

Reut USA

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of International and Public Affairs, 2017

 


 

Erica Sokolerica-sokol

Erica was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Florida and a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Erica has vast experience serving in variety of leadership roles within nonprofit organizations, such as Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, Camp Boggy Creek, and Cancer Support Community Greater Miami. She most recently served as the Director of Internal Operations at Global Medical Training, helping to arrange student medical mission trips to Central America. Erica is also the founder of StudentsCare, a nonprofit organization which provides support to hospitalized children. She refers to these children often as her “little heroes,” many of whom have since passed away from cancer at a young age. Erica treasures their memory and strives to live her life with the bravery, courage, and kindness that she saw these children exude every day.

Venture: 

StudentsCare www.students-care.org

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | School of Social Policy & Practice, 2016

 


 

Gerald Mitchellgerald-mitchell

Gerald Mitchell is the founder of SWICH. Built upon the most comprehensive database of social responsibility ratings for businesses, SWICH is an award-winning social venture that helps people become more conscious consumers and investors and discover great businesses that share their values. Prior to starting SWICH, Gerald invested in and advised urban, socially responsible businesses while daydreaming about kitesurfing in Brazil. He is also a published writer for several national outlets on subjects spanning economics to social justice. Gerald’s is a staunch believer in interconnectedness, mindfulness, systemic change, and that nothing is often better than something.

Venture: 

SWICH | https://swich.to

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | The Wharton School, 2008

 


 

Jacqueline Cassidyjacqueline-cassidy

Jacqueline is a middle level art educator in suburban Philadelphia. Jacqueline is an innovative educator, professional development facilitator in design thinking and former department chairperson. She has been a frequent presenter at the National Art Education Association’s national conference and at the Pennsylvania Art Education Association’s annual conference. Jacqueline’s passion for art education extends beyond the classroom and into her private life. She is the author and illustrator of a children’s book, The Primary Kids Meet Georges Seurat, about Neo-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat. Jacqueline is the Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a founding member of the Barnes Foundation Contemporaries. This past March, she was a member of the winning team at the Power of Art Hackathon sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Jacqueline earned her Master of Science in Education degree with a concentration in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania, a Graduate Certificate in Business from Pennsylvania State University, her PA State Art Teacher Certification from Rosemont College, and a and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from Marywood University.

Venture: 

EdCurator

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | Graduate School of Education, 2015

 


 

Jade Lejade-le

Jade has been incubated in NYC’s startup scene since completing her studies at Harvard and Columbia. Most recently she is Founder and CEO at mimiJ, and was selected to join a venture accelerator program for her idea to disrupt the nail industry in favor of worker rights and empowering professionals in the industry (largely immigrant women) to become their own entrepreneurs through the use of technology, education, and community building. Previously she has had experience working with other early stage education startups in NYC: 1) in a general management and business development capacity for a company that brings computer science education to K-12 schools and 2) in a business operations and strategy capacity at a company focused on character development–there she was one of the first 5 employees and worked on building out and maintaining systems of infrastructure, people development, knowledge management, finance, and governance policies from the ground up. Before her startup experiences, Jade worked as a Financial & Management Consultant to NYC under the Bloomberg administration and managed the allocation of $4.5B in FEMA public assistance funding to over 50 city agencies throughout the five boroughs. She oversaw all aspects of systems development, data migration, reporting, and most importantly holding others accountable to performance and goal-oriented objectives during the $19B in damages from Hurricane Sandy. She is passionate about making a positive social impact, leadership, education, and technology.

Venture: 

mimiJ

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | Teachers College, 2012

 


 

Jeanny Yao & Miranda Wang

Jeanny Yao is passionate about science, sustainability, and innovation. She thinks the next revolution lies in biotechnology and believes in using genetic tools to solve complex problems. Jeanny has recently graduated from the University of Toronto in Biochemistry and Environment.Together with her best friend Miranda, they have co-founded a startup, BioCellection, which aims to bioremediate and upcycle plastic pollution. This startup has won first place and the social impact prize at PennVention as well as five awards at the Wharton Business Plan Competition. Currently, she is working as the CTO of BioCellection in the top bioincubator in Silicon Valley

Miranda Wang is a synthetic biologist, environmental advocate, and a 2016 Penn college graduate. She is the Co-founder and CEO of BioCellection Inc., a biotechnology startup with a lab based in Silicon Valley that is bioengineering bacteria to transform polystyrene waste into valuable products using novel chemistry and genetic engineering. Miranda is also a member of the Wharton VIP and Weiss Tech House communities. In the past year, she set Wharton history by leading the first undergraduate team to win 5 awards at the Business Plan Competition, including the Perlman Grand Prize. BioCellection is also the 2016 winner of PennVention, the Woods Award, the Snider Seed Award.

Venture: 

BioCellection Inc. www.biocellection.com

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | The Wharton School

 


 

Jordan Steffyjordan-steffy

Raised an only child, Jordan spent his early years looking to meet and connect with others, primarily out of necessity; being alone and bored sucks! It’s connecting that has continued as a theme in his life, beginning in college when he did this figuratively with teammates at the University of Maryland, but also on the field where his success depended heavily on “connecting” with wide receivers to score touchdowns. After graduating from college, Jordan started a non-profit called Attollo Prep, the intention of illuminating the pathway to college for first generation college goers. In an attempt to solve the problem of mentor turnover in his organization, Jordan founded Xylem – The Mentor App. Xylem aims to enhance and quantify the connection between mentors and protégés, leading to longer lasting and data informed connections.

Venture: 

Xylem – The Mentor App

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | Business School, 2015

 


 

 

Mariama Kabiamariama-kabia

Mariama Kabia is Co-founder and CEO of Memunatu—a social enterprise that promotes literacy, leadership, and empowerment for teenage girls (10-17 years old) in West Africa through a classroom magazine. Mariama and her twin sister, Fatmata, inspired by their experience as daughters of immigrants from Sierra Leone created Memunatu while undergraduate students at Penn. Memunatu has since been recognized as a Wharton Africa Business Forum Finalist, Harvard Business School New Venture Competition Semifinalist, Harvard Innovation Lab team, Dell Social Innovation Competition Fellow, Clinton Global Initiative University Conference project, Wharton Venture Initiation Program company, and Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund team. Mariama earned a Master in Public Policy degree (M.P.P) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2014 and a B.A. in international relations and minor in French from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She works on Memunatu as a Fellow based at Halcyon Incubator in Washington, D.C. and is interested in creative solutions across media, international relations, and public policy.

Venture: 

Memunatu www.memunatumagazine.com

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | School of Arts & Sciences, 2012

 


 

Pratibha Vuppuluri

Pratibha Vuppuluri is the Founder & Principal at NariNetwork, Quora for women in South Asian diaspora. She currently serves on the Board of Screenpro (a Consumer electronics accessories company), mindHive (Marketing mobile app company) and is also a guide at the Resolution 6 of 6Project. Pratibha has more than ten years experience in the financial services industry including seven years in the Healthcare, Private Equity Secondary Market and Technology Investment Banking space at both UBS and Deutsche Bank. She has also authored and published an economic thesis on “The Impact of Negative Economic News Coverage on Consumer Confidence”. Pratibha graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Applied Economics and Management with Distinction in Honors Research and completed her Masters in International Affairs (International Finance and Economic Policy) at Columbia University.

Venture: 

NariNetwork www.narinetwork.com/

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of International and Public Affairs, 2010

 

 


Miriam McBridemiriam-mcbride

Miriam McBride leads research and partner development in support of Per Scholas’ national expansion. Miriam began her workforce development career — initially as a computer skills instructor — at The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program, first in Philadelphia and later in Brooklyn. Her nonprofit management experience spans program design and assessment, data systems implementation, communications strategy, human capital management and organizational development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in nonprofit management from The New School. Miriam lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn with her brood of boys: husband Brendan, son Charlie, and cat Cesar.

Venture: 

Per Scholas perscholas.org

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | College of Arts & Sciences, 2002

 


 

Sade Oba & Alfredo Munizalfredo-muniz-sade-oba

Sade’s mantra, “making dreams into reality,” started out as her desire to design and create elements of the Star Wars universe she dearly loved in her teens. At the time she couldn’t think of anything better than being able to build her own Podracer or Nubian starship. Now that some time has passed, Sade hopes to transform the dreams and desires of others into products that feel “right” for the end user and make sense in everyday life. The thought of transforming a dream or wish into a synthesizable design fuels her passion for helping others. Sade’s Penn education has provided her diverse learning opportunities and interdisciplinary teams that have challenged her to push the limits of what she previously thought possible. At XEED, Sade hopes to improve the lives of others in an impactful way by helping those with Parkinson’s reclaim their bodies, overcome ever-growing obstacles, and truly exceed limits.

Alfredo has always loved pushing limits, whether it be the limits of his disadvantaged background or those of emerging technology. As a first-generation college student, Alfredo treats every opportunity as a blessing. He maximizes his experience at Penn by working on open source hardware, teaching students how to solve software problems, and picking up useful skills within engineering and entrepreneurship. He works best in teams and his favorite moments come from diverse, collaborative group discussions. His humble beginnings mixed with his Penn education make him feel a sense of responsibility to give back and use his knowledge for the greater good. As part of the XEED team, Alfredo works to not only push his limits but also exceed them while helping others do the same.

Venture: 

XEED, LLC www.xeedlimits.com

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | School of Engineering & Applied Science, 2016

 


 

Sawaros Thanapornsangsuthsawaros-thanapornsangsuth

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Sam has always been interested in education development. She always looks for ways to understand how children construct their knowledge, while being able to creatively express themselves using technology. Sam sees herself as a researcher and a practitioner who seeks for ways to understand children’s condition and come up with appropriate design features to invent tools and organize outreach initiatives to enhance their learning experience in suitable manners. In 2014, Sam and her mechanical engineer friend founded a social enterprise called “Little Builders,” with the goal of bringing hand-ons STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning experience through design and building to Thai didactic classrooms. Sam received her M.A. in Computing in Education from Columbia University under the Fulbright Scholarship and B.A. in English from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. She is currently a doctoral student at Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design Program, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Venture: 

Little Builders http://www.wearelittlebuilders.com/ 

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | Teachers College, 2020

 


 

Sona Shahsona-shaw

Sona is CEO and co-founder of Neopenda, a global health startup passionate about reducing newborn mortality in the developing world. After completing her BS in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2011, Sona has spent time working as an engineer and teacher in low-resource settings, in addition to a couple years as an engineer at Eli Lilly and Company. She recently completed her Masters in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia, where she focused much of her efforts on creating technologies for the developing world.

Venture: 

Neopenda www.neopenda.com

Coming to us from:

Columbia University | School of Engineering & Applied Science, 2016

 


 

Sruthi Sadhujansruthi-sadhujan

Sruthi comes from a diverse background at the intersection of design and strategy, spanning corporate retail, social impact start up, and digital agency. Leading strategy and new business development at Hyperakt, she helps leading social impact organizations craft strong identities and tell compelling stories online and offline in order to amplify the impact of their work. Prior to this, she helped launch a social enterprise in India that innovates low-tech, human-centered tools to increase reliable access to clean water. Sruthi graduated from Penn with a degree in International Relations and French. She has grown up in three different countries but loves the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn the best. She spends a lot of her free time listening to podcasts, dreaming of podcasts she could start, and producing amateur audio stories.

Venture: 

Hyperakt www.hyperakt.com

Coming to us from:

University of Pennsylvania | School of Arts & Sciences, 2009