Auburn and Other Sullivan Partner Schools Are Developing Rural Pharmacies in the Southeast

With a shortage of health care infrastructure, hospitals and specialty clinics in rural areas, significant health disparities exist for people in those communities. For many, the most accessible and well-positioned health care provider is the community pharmacist.

To help address this issue and provide innovative solutions, Dr. Salisa Westrick of Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP) is collaborating with counterparts at several Sullivan Foundation partner schools to create the Rural Research Alliance of Community Pharmacies (RURAL-CP). These partner schools include the University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina and the University of Mississippi. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is participating in RURAL-CP as well.

Auburn is also a Sullivan Foundation partner school.

RURAL-CP is a network of more than 100 rural community pharmacies spanning five southeastern states and is the only network of its kind in the United States. Network members collaborate with colleges and schools of pharmacy to identify and address societal, community and professional issues that relate to medication use and pharmacy practice.

Related: Auburn University students use old-fashioned technology to help veterans get needed health care

“Prescription medications are key components of American healthcare, and pharmacists play a critical role in dispensing these medications, educating patients and ensuring patient safety,” said Westrick, Sterling Professor and department head in HSOP’s Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy. “In an area where there is no pharmacy, residents will not have timely access to prescription drugs nor access to pharmacists they can consult with when they have questions about their medications. Therefore, our work is to build strong evidence of the value and the impact of pharmacists on patient outcomes in rural communities.”

The project is headed up by Dr. Delesha Carpenter at North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Working with Westrick at Auburn are fellow faculty members Dr. Lindsey Hohmann and Dr. Natalie Hohmann, along with students NeCall Wilson, Robert Alongi and Kavon Diggs.

(Photo by Dids from Pexel)

With more than 25 rural pharmacies already enrolled, Westrick and her team are continuing to work through the on-boarding process for network members, including a site survey and visit.

“These pharmacies and the academic institutions work together to identify and prioritize critical health concerns in rural communities,” Westrick said. “Together, we will identify and refine the solutions, assess the effectiveness and feasibility of the solutions and then disseminate the outcomes to various stakeholders.”

By joining the network, pharmacies will have access to continuing education programs and workshops addressing issues such as seasonal and non-seasonal immunizations, operations during a pandemic, naloxone counseling, medication therapy management for special populations and more.

The work in the network pharmacies will also drive multiple research projects, testing the effectiveness of certain interventions.

Related: Auburn’s Rural Medicine Program helps provide future doctors throughout Alabama

“These network pharmacies will serve as demonstration sites for innovative pharmacist-led services, and the patients whom they serve can and will benefit from these interventions,” said Westrick.

Living up to Auburn’s land-grant designation, Westrick and her team are working to improve the health outcomes of Alabamians through the network. With insurance practices and low profit margins on medications making it difficult for some rural pharmacies to stay open, the program provides an opportunity for members to diversify services and find new ways to generate revenue.

“Payments to community pharmacies and pharmacists for clinical services are not common, and we hope that RURAL-CP can serve as a catalyst to change the reimbursement landscape for community pharmacists’ services and allow pharmacists to get reimbursed for clinical services they provide in their pharmacies,” Westrick said.

“It is also important to recognize that community pharmacies in rural areas are critical components of the community,” she added. “By assisting rural pharmacists and pharmacies, we ensure that Alabamians in rural areas continue to have access to their pharmacy and their trusted pharmacists.”

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Auburn University website.

Zachary Wilson Receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Scholarship at Rust College

Freshman Zachary Wilson of Columbus, Miss., was named the newest beneficiary of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Scholarship at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rust College.

Wilson held many leadership positions while attending high school and has been very active since arriving on the Rust campus.  He is Rust College’s newly elected Mr. Freshman and is the brother of Cameron Wilson, who has been named Mister Rust College.

Related: Eric Johnson develops Rust Innovation Lab to promote leadership and entrepreneurship at Rust College

Tianna Smith of Houston, Tex,, was awarded Rust College’s first Sullivan Scholarship in 2019. Smith is active at Rust College through basketball, the NAACP and her position as Sophomore Class Officer.

The Sullivan Scholarships recognize college students and members of the college community who put service to others before self-interest. Scholarship recipients must report their service and/or social entrepreneurship activities, engage in Sullivan Foundation marketing efforts on campus and attend one Sullivan-sponsored weekend retreat during their freshman and sophomore years.

The Sullivan Scholarship provides $10,000 for attending a Sullivan Foundation partner school and is renewable for four years.

Rust College receives Sullivan Scholarship funding in the form of an endowment from the Sullivan Foundation. In 2018, the foundation began a strategic planning process to redesign its existing scholarship program in order to deepen its relationship with students, faculty, and schools. The foundation ultimately determined to collaborate with its partner schools in the creation of a redesigned scholarship program that not only supports service-minded students, but also engages students, faculty and staff in the foundation’s programming, including twice-yearly Ignite Retreats for student changemakers and faculty, study-abroad opportunities and entrepreneurship support.

The Sullivan Foundation also offers opportunities to become Sullivan Ambassadors on its partner school campuses. Eric Johnson, who currently serves as Rust’s Student Government Association president, is also a Sullivan Ambassador. Eric is the founder of the new Rust Innovation Lab on the Rust College campus.

Related: Special education major Morgan Crowe receives Sullivan Scholarship at Lees-McRae College

Dr. Vida Mays, the Sullivan Foundation campus liaison and Rust College’s director of grants and contracts, will work with Wilson and fellow scholarship recipients over the coming years to attend retreats and field trips to further develop their community leadership skills.

Located in Holly Springs, Miss., Rust College is a historically black, co-educational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rust College was founded to offer quality programs in business, education, humanities, science and math, and social science to prepare students for leadership and service in the global society.

Angel Investment Group VentureSouth Sullivan Launches Affiliate Group for Eight Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

VentureSouth, one of the country’s leading angel investment groups, has launched an affiliate group specifically for faculty, staff, alumni and students of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s eight partner colleges and universities in South Carolina. The institutions include Converse College, Clemson University, Furman University, Erskine College, Newberry College, the University of South Carolina, Coker University and Winthrop University.

If you’re a faculty/staff member, alumnus or student at any of the above universities, click here to join the VentureSouth Sullivan network.

The group, called VentureSouth Sullivan, is one of 14 angel investment groups and funds operated by VentureSouth, headquartered in Greenville, S.C. With its formation, anyone from the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools, including those indicated above, can become a member of the south’s largest angel network and invest in innovative startup businesses that will drive the region’s economy. Additionally, 25 percent of their annual membership fees will be donated to the Sullivan Foundation. All proceeds will be used to financially support students, faculty and staff from the new member’s school to cover expenses so they can attend events and educational initiatives focused on making positive change in their communities through the development of impact businesses and community centered enterprises.

Members of VentureSouth Sullivan can also donate a percentage of any profits derived from their investments to benefit the Sullivan school of their choice. Therefore, alumni of these South Carolina colleges and universities can direct 25 percent of their annual membership fees and even a portion of their return-on-investment to help students and faculty at their particular alma mater.

Matt Dunbar, a managing director of VentureSouth, is an alumnus of Sullivan Foundation partner school Clemson University and received the 1999 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

this is a photo of the founders of VentureSouth, including Paul Clark, Matt Dunbar and Charlie Banks

Matt Dunbar (middle), a Clemson University alumnus and winner of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1999, cofounded VentureSouth with Paul Clark (left) and Charlie Banks (right).

“I was fortunate and humbled to be presented the Sullivan Award upon graduating from Clemson, and, through chance, recently reconnected with the Foundation,” Dunbar said. “Creating this affiliate group specifically for Sullivan alumni and donating a portion of the annual fees is one way of supporting the Sullivan network of schools and encouraging students to choose a path of service to their communities.”

The 2019 Angel Funders Report, released in July 2019 by the Angel Capital Association, recognized VentureSouth as one of North America’s top 10 angel investment groups based on capital invested by its members in the previous year. VentureSouth was listed alongside some of the largest and most respected angel groups in the U.S. and Canada, including Tech Coast Angels in California; New York Angels and Golden Seeds in New York; and the Central Texas Angel Network.

Since its inception, VentureSouth has invested nearly $50 million in more than 75 companies, with a focus on companies located in the South. Companies in its portfolio include innovators like Altis Biosystems in Chapel Hill, N.C., which specializes in next-generation stem cell technologies designed to make drug discovery faster, cheaper and safer while reducing the need for animal testing; Actived, the Greenville developer of a technology platform for movement-based learning—such as walkabouts—to get kids out of their desks and onto their feet as they’re learning language arts and mathematics; and Proterra, an innovative leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission buses that save money on fleet operations while reducing the transportation industry’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Joining VentureSouth Sullivan’s group allows Sullivan alumni to invest in similar early-stage companies with major growth potential. It’s also a chance to make a difference in an economically disadvantaged region of the U.S. VentureSouth’s motto, after all, is “Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good.”

“For VentureSouth members, ‘doing good’ comes from multiple levels of impact created by our investing activity,” Dunbar said. “We know that all net job growth in the economy comes from young companies that grow fast — and which don’t usually have access to other forms of capital — so our investments really help fuel the growth of good jobs and opportunities and wealth creation in our communities.”

“Additionally, many of our portfolio companies are working to solve serious problems in arenas like cancer diagnostics, infant screening, women’s health, public transit and clean energy,” Dunbar said. “So we are helping advance significant efforts to save lives and protect our environment. Lastly, our model allows VentureSouth members to share their experience and wisdom with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, which creates a wealth of good in the form of passing it down and paying it forward.”

With the new angel group for Sullivan alumni, Dunbar is paying it forward to the Sullivan Foundation as well.

“I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the Sullivan Award or the Sullivans before I became a recipient at Clemson,” he said. “But once I had a chance to learn about the history and legacy of the award and its namesake, I was extremely honored and humbled to share the award with such a long line of great servant leaders. Even now I am still challenged and inspired to try to live up to the principles and values it represents.”

To learn more about this angel investment group opportunity, contact Kevin Seddon at


Two Social Change Pioneers Lead Sullivan’s Ignite Masterclasses in November

The Sullivan Foundation will wrap up its Fall 2020 Ignite Masterclass program with a pair of sessions in November about groundbreaking companies that are inventing new paradigms aimed at disrupting the status quo, leading up to the Foundation’s semester-closing Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair on Monday, Nov. 16.

November’s first Masterclass introduces Erin Boyd, head of business operations for Culdesac, a company that is building a car-free community in Tempe, Ariz. The class, titled “Placemaking as a Tool for Community + Network Building,” takes place from 4:15-5:30 p.m. (ET), on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Click here to register for the free session.

In her Ignite Masterclass session, Boyd will talk about a new approach to urban design that re-envisions our public spaces for the enjoyment of people rather than the movement and storage of automobiles. Her session will also focus on how to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Boyd, who also cofounded Ashoka U, a global network for social entrepreneurship in higher education, will draw on her experience at Culdesac to explore the role of physical, cultural and social identities that define a space and support its ongoing evolution.

Erin Boyd of Culdesac

Related: Read more about the session and the car-free community called Tempe Culdesac.

Abhinav Khanal, cofounder of Bean Voyage (pictured at top), will lead the second November masterclass, titled, “How to Disrupt a Broken Global Supply Chain,” on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The class will be held in two sessions from 2-3:15 p.m. (ET) and from 6-7:15 p.m. (ET).

Click here to register for the first session and click here for the second session.

Khanal will share the story of how he cofounded a social enterprise—while he was still in college—aimed at helping smallholder womxn coffee producers lead their families and communities toward a sustainable future. Smallholder womxn coffee producers make 40 percent less than their male counterparts, although they comprise 70 percent of the coffee farmer workforce. Khanal’s nonprofit, Bean Voyage, provides training and direct-market access to these smallholder womxn coffee producers in Costa Rica.

The Fall 2020 Ignite Masterclass program culminates in the first Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair, to be held from 6-8 p.m. (ET), Monday, Nov. 16. Participants will learn about internships, jobs, education and service positions that can help launch their careers as changemakers. From Benefit Corporations to global service organizations and from large foundations to small rural startups, the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair offers a multitude of ways to take concrete steps on your career path.

Space for the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair is limited, so click here to register and claim your spot today!

Erin Boyd Discusses Culdesac Tempe, a Car-Free Community, in Nov. 5 Ignite Masterclass

Virtually every town and city in the U.S. is designed with cars in mind, but what if you could build a car-free community where everything you need is within walking or biking distance? Erin Boyd knows how to do it, and she’ll share her ideas and expertise about building healthier, happier communities in the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass.

The online masterclass, titled “Placemaking as a Tool for Community + Network Building,” is free and open to the public. It takes place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. (ET), on Thursday, Nov. 5. Click here to register for the class.

Boyd will lead class participants in a discussion of how to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces to serve as the heart of a community. She will also explore the role of physical, cultural and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

Read more about the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclasses here.

Faculty members and students from two universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass. They include Dr. Elena Kennedy of Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University and her Introduction to Creativity and Doer/Maker Mindset class, as well as Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois and her Illinois Impact Incubator students.

This picture shows Erin Boyd, the head of business operations for Culdesac Tempe, a car-free community in Tempe, Arizona

Erin Boyd of Culdesac

Boyd heads up business operations for Culdesac, a Tempe, Arizona, company that builds car-free neighborhoods from scratch. Boyd also cofounded Ashoka U, a global network for social entrepreneurship in higher education. Prior to joining Culdescac, she was head of partnerships for ChangeX, a platform that supports impact projects to build healthier communities.

Culdesac’s first project, Culdesac Tempe, is scheduled to launch next year. It’s a car-free rental apartment community described as a “five-minute city.” Culdesac Tempe will house 1,000 people in competitively priced apartment buildings that are mostly one-bedroom units. Plans call for restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks and even co-working spaces, all within a five-minute walk for residents.

Culdesac Tempe isn’t technically the first car-free community in U.S. history—cities, towns and neighborhoods built prior to the invention of the automobile were obviously car-free. But since the days of Henry Ford, the car has essentially dictated urban design. And while the automobile helped transform the U.S. into an economic powerhouse and made it easier for Americans to travel far and wide across a large, sprawling country, it has some downsides—traffic snarls, air and noise pollution, and large chunks of real estate dedicated to parking. As Fast Company notes, 40 percent of the land area in Seattle is used for parking, while New York City’s on-street parking spots alone take up the equivalent of a dozen Central Parks.

this photo shows a family that will be living in the car-free community of Culdesac Tempe in Tempe, Arizona.

The Kimbwala family, future residents of Culdesac Tempe, previously lived in the Netherlands in a similar community designed with people in mind.

In her Ignite Masterclass session, Boyd will talk about Culdesac’s innovative approach to car-free urban design. Instead of a landscape constructed for the movement and storage of hulking Chevy Suburbans and Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Culdesac aims to develop a community for the enjoyment of people. That means vibrant courtyards, wide, tree-lined walkways, active plazas and parks, as well as businesses that meet most of the residents’ everyday needs.

At the same time, the neighborhood will be accessible for emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles as well as designated pickup and drop-off locations for ride-shares. It will offer ample parking for visitors as well.

But the goal of Culdesac Tempe is to reinvent public spaces that are peaceful, quiet and laidback, minus all the traffic noise, pollution and hustle and bustle that make city life so stressful.

Sullivan Foundation to Host Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair Nov. 16

Job opportunities are hard to come by for young college graduates pursuing careers as changemakers, especially during a pandemic. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation plans to give them a head start with the upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair, to be held online from 6-8 p.m. (ET), Monday, Nov. 16.

Click here to learn more and register for the free event.

The event, which is free and open to all recent college graduates or current students, takes place in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week, scheduled for Nov. 16-22, 2020.

The Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair will feature virtual “booths” manned by social-impact organization leaders around the nation. Some of the groups partnering on the event, to both share opportunities and promote it, include:

Attendees of the Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair will have the chance to connect with social-impact organizations offering internships and jobs and meet representatives from socially minded companies looking to hire. They will also network and interact with social entrepreneurs to receive guidance and feedback.

“We’ve heard from lots of students who are struggling to find opportunities to get started in their changemaking careers,” said Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement and organizer of the event. “We’re going to lean on the collective resources across our Sullivan network to help students connect with internships, jobs, education and service opportunities.”

The event will also serve as the culmination to the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass program, which launched this fall. Ignite Masterclasses offer weekly workshops and networking sessions taught by social innovation leaders from around the country.

Social innovators and business leaders who want to participate in the event can fill out a survey here with details on the opportunity they’re offering. If your organization would like to help promote the event, email Marshall at to learn more and to receive resources for sharing to your network.


Reading With a Rapper’s Jarren Small Leads Ignite Masterclass on Oct. 28

Jarren Small, the mastermind behind the Houston-based Reading With a Rapper program, will lead the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The class, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Reimagining Education With Rappers + Corporate America.” Two sessions will be held from 1-2:15 p.m. (ET) and from 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET).

Related: Jarren Small teaches ELA skills through hip-hop

Click here to register for Session 1 and click here to register for Session 2.

This masterclass will explore creative ways to pursue change within America’s education system through unlikely partnerships. Small is the co-founder of Reading With a Rapper, a venture that connects high-school students with rappers to strengthen their English Language Arts (ELA) skills. Since creating the program, Small has gone on to start a variety of side hustles that are creating impact in his community.

Small will help Ignite Masterclass attendees learn how to build partnerships and connect different parts of their passions to form their own side hustles.

Reading With a Rapper is an innovative educational curriculum focused on teaching ELA in a way that makes today’s young people sit up and listen. Students hone their reading and writing skills through a series of activities and exercises built around rap music with socially conscious lyrics, video content and technology. Students learn how to relate real-world concepts expressed in rap songs to literature and writing.

Students in classes taught by faculty members from three colleges and universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass session. The faculty members include Tonia Warnecke, Ph.D., of Rollins College; Scott Kelly of Campbell University; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois.

Click here to learn more about the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass program.

Sullivan Award Winner Keeps Puppy Tails Wagging for Pet Rescue Organization

Mississippi has too many stray dogs. Pet lovers in northern states are eager to adopt, but there aren’t enough dogs there to meet the demand. That’s where Neely Griggs comes in.

Griggs, a public policy major and 2020 recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at the University of Mississippi, has made it her mission to fill the gap, rescuing local strays and transporting them to loving homes up north—that is, when she’s not reaching out to help her fellow humans in need.

Related: Learn more about the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award here.

As the Transport and Intake Coordinator for Mississippi Mutts in Oxford, Griggs keeps doggie tails wagging happily as they ship off to meet their new families. She coordinates the transfer of animals to partner organizations, such as Wright-Way Rescue in Chicago, that place the pups in forever homes.

“Growing up in rural Mississippi, my family had a lot of pets, so I grew up with a love for animals,” Griggs said. “I was definitely the child who wanted to rescue every animal I found.”

Mississippi’s stray dog problem is well-documented. Some have been abandoned by their owners, while others simply wandered off from home and never found their way back. Thousands of dogs are raised in the notorious “puppy mills”—breeding operations in which allegedly “purebred” animals often endure cruel treatment and unsanitary living conditions—that dot the state.

Related: Hotel for dogs in Biloxi, Mississippi lets guests foster or adopt stray pups

this photo shows Neely Griggs with a rescued dog getting ready for transport up north

Growing up in Mississippi, Griggs was “definitely the child who wanted to rescue every animal I found.”

Many of the dogs haven’t been spayed or neutered, which makes them likely to bring even more homeless pups into the world.

“Pet ownership is very common in Mississippi,” Griggs said. “However, people often don’t realize the responsibility of owning a pet, such as the financial burden and time commitment. This has led to an overabundance of unwanted animals in our state.”

And even when they’re rescued from a hard life in the streets or the puppy mills, too many of man’s best friends still end up dead. Although some shelters have a no-kill policy, most can’t afford to care for the dogs over the long term and eventually have to euthanize them.

“Stray dogs can cause problems even in rural communities, and in many towns, shelters are not equipped to handle the number of stray animals,” Griggs explained. “This leads to the killing of many unwanted animals and the use of extremely limited shelter resources. That’s why it’s necessary to transport animals out of the state. Specifically, shelters in cities like Chicago often have prospective pet owners on waitlists to adopt. They are just waiting for one to become available.”

this photo shows Neely Griggs with a Mississippi Mutts group getting ready to transport dogs to Chicago to get adopted.

Mississippi Mutts’ mission to transport shelter dogs up north fulfills a demand for pets in other parts of the U.S. while helping Mississippi shelters conserve their resources.

“Transporting animals elsewhere is beneficial for the home state because there are less stray animals and more resources for shelters, but the animals transported elsewhere find healthy and happy outcomes,” Griggs added. “Most importantly, they can live long lives and bring joy to a family.”

When Griggs isn’t saving our four-legged pals, she’s working hard for underserved populations in the Oxford area. She spent the past summer interning for the Rust College Community Development Corporation in nearby Holly Springs, Miss. The organization helps people facing issues such as housing instability and food insecurity while supporting local businesses and securing funding for community development projects.

Griggs said she was introduced to the Rust College CDC through her role as an intern with the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. “My main roles included assisting with the grant application process, directly volunteering with the Holly Springs school district’s food distribution program and creating marketing materials for the Holly Springs High School Career and Technical Center. I also helped create a grant application guide for the Rust College CDC, specifically drafting a grant-application decision matrix and timeline for future interns and employees to use in the grant application process.”

“Although I had a theoretical understanding of capacity building through my studies, my summer experience allowed me to gain a functional knowledge of the practice,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I was able to learn more about how capacity building looks in an organization and also assist in activities that would help create lasting value in Holly Springs.”

Related: This 12-year-old social entrepreneur makes bowties to help shelter animals get adopted

Additionally, Griggs has served an internship with the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) office in Oxford, helping people in need apply for public assistance. She said the internship taught her customer service and conflict management skills that will come in handy for her career goals. “But more importantly, through my internship at MDHS and with encouragement from my supervisor, Kendra Campbell, I was able to become heavily involved with the Oxford community,” Griggs said.

As the hometown of Ole Miss, Oxford is a largely affluent community, but not everyone has it so easy. “As a student, I had known Oxford as a picturesque, small college town, but at MDHS I witnessed the struggles that families and individuals face daily,” Griggs said. “As a student, it’s easy to forget that there are people on campus and in the community who struggle to obtain their basic needs like food and housing—things we often take for granted. I’m grateful for this experience, for not only showing me that every community has opportunities for growth but also introducing me to other leaders in our community who continue to inspire me in my academic and career goals through their passion for creating programs to fill these gaps and reach typically underserved populations.”

Griggs’ commitment to service made her a natural choice for the Sullivan Award, according to UM faculty and staff members who nominated her. One of the nominators noted that Griggs’ internship with MDHS “is perhaps the most prominent example of her selfless service to her community. She would talk to me often about the aid applicants that she would interview and assist day-to-day, expressing genuine empathy [and a] desire to help these people in whatever way she could. This experience helped her gain a better understanding of the underserved in the Oxford community and only increased her desire to do whatever she could to improve these people’s lives.”

“She is my role model,” another nominator wrote in a letter recommending Griggs for the award. “I am just one of the many people in the community whose life she has touched in a positive way. I am absolutely sure that she will only broaden her outreach in the pursuit of her goals, which all center around community development. She is determined to improve the state of affairs in her home state of Mississippi.”

But where exactly will the future take her? “I’m not really sure yet,” she said. “I’m working on my thesis now and know that will take up a lot of my time over the next few months. Right now, I’m planning on taking a gap year to do a year of service and would love to continue doing capacity building for nonprofits.”

In other words, wherever she goes next and wherever she stays, Griggs plans to help make it a better place for everyone.

Kaveh Sadeghian Explores Principles of Design Thinking in Upcoming Ignite Masterclass Oct. 15

Biases and bad habits often get in the way of innovation and positive change. In the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass, Kaveh Sadeghian of the Center for Social Impact Strategy will delve into the core principles of design thinking, a process for solving problems in a creative, human-centered way.

Ignite Masterclass facilitator Spud Marshall will host Sadeghian in two sessions titled Design Thinking for Personal Growth + Social Innovation, both presented on Thursday, October 15. The first session takes place from 9:30-10:45 a.m. (ET), followed immediately by the second session from 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (ET).  All Ignite Masterclasses are free. You can register for the first session here and for the second session here.

Click here to learn more about Sullivan’s Ignite Masterclass series and upcoming sessions.

a photo of Kaveh Sadeghian

Kaveh Sadeghian

Sadeghian will introduce participants to the core principles of design thinking, creativity and social innovation. The session will explore why meaningful work is so hard to come by and how you can use design thinking methodology to identify and ultimately create opportunities that exist at the powerful point of intersection between your identity, values and the problems that weigh most heavily on your community.

Students in classes taught by faculty members from seven colleges and universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass session. The faculty members include Montressa Washington, Ph.D., of Shenandoah University; Melissa Nelson of Rollins College; Bruce Dorries, Ph.D., of Mary Baldwin University; Susan Conradsen, Ph.D., of Berry College; Melanie Bullock Harris of Elon University; Linda Feltman of Penn State University; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois.

In the September-October 2018 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Jeanne Liedtka, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, described design thinking as a “social technology” that “has the potential to do for innovation exactly what [Total Quality Management] did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment and radically improve processes.”

“By now most executives have at least heard about design thinking’s tools—ethnographic research, an emphasis on reframing problems and experimentation, the use of diverse teams, and so on—if not tried them,” Liedtka wrote. “But what people may not understand is the subtler way that design thinking gets around the human biases (for example, rootedness in the staus quo) or attachments to specific behaviorial norms (‘That’s how we do things here’) that time and again block the exercise of imagination.”

Sadeghian is the creative director and founding member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy and a faculty member for the Executive Program in Social Innovation Design. He designs and facilitates leadership development programs, leveraging leading practices in organizational psychology and design thinking to help impact leaders work more effectively and compassionately.

Sadeghian also consults for high-impact organizations and speaks at purpose-driven conferences, designing and leading interactive workshops that increase clarity, confidence and community. He has trained more than 4,000 impact leaders, and the online programs he helped design have reached more than 90,000 learners to date. Prior to co-founding the Center, Sadeghian was a change manager for Ashoka, where he managed the development, launch and expansion of a nationwide high school social entrepreneurial incubator program.

Throughout Fall 2020, the Sullivan Foundation will host weekly Ignite Masterclass workshops and networking sessions taught by social innovation leaders from around the U.S. Each class features an expert mini-lecture on a specific social innovation, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other social innovators. All sessions are designed for college students and faculty alike and are free to the public.

Reagan Pugh Leads Oct. 6 Ignite Masterclass on Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice

Most of us believe in justice, but if we’re challenged to change our attitudes and beliefs about right and wrong, that’s a different story. In the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass, Reagan Pugh of Assemble discusses the topic of “Developing Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice.”

The online class will be held in two sessions on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The first session takes place from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (ET). The second session will be held from 3 p.m.-4:15 p.m. (ET). The sessions are free and open to the public.

Click here to register for the first session and here to register for the second session.

Related: Reagan Pugh builds connections through storytelling

Most people have no desire to change, Pugh says, and outdating hardwiring in our brains causes us to avoid the discomfort of growth. This instinctual desire to maintain the status quo is a direct threat to justice and excuses individuals and communities from doing the hard work of including, respecting and empowering everyone.

But Pugh says we can shift our perspectives, evolve and mature as human beings when we practice empathy and pay attention to the experiences of others.

This Ignite Masterclass session will guide participants through a dialogue on default mindsets, examine how fear prevents us from growth and provide strategies for developing empathy as a tool for justice.

As co-founder of Assemble, Pugh delivers workshops and keynote speeches on personal effectiveness and leadership development around the country. Prior to the launch of Assemble, he was Chief Storyteller for the innovation consulting firm, Kalypso, and guided initiatives on storytelling, culture and leadership development at companies like Nike, Pepsico and Kimberly Clark. Pugh is a past workshop facilitator at the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats and has designed leadership courses for Texas State University, Trinity University and Angelo State University.

With its popular Ignite Retreats, usually held twice a year in North Carolina, currently on hold, the Sullivan Foundation is bringing social-change leaders, college students and faculty/staff together through the weekly Ignite Masterclass sessions—and all classes are free. Even better, many participants say it’s the best online event they have ever attended.

Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, leads the sessions. Each one features a mini-lecture from a social innovator about a specific initiative, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other leaders in the field.

Additionally, classes taught by professors from across the Sullivan network—as well as some non-Sullivan schools—attend and participate in the sessions. Participating in the Oct. 6 session will be Dr. Anne Stone of Rollins College and her Communications Studies class; Alyson Francisco of Salem College and her Principles of Management class; Dr. Bruce Dorries of Mary Baldwin University and his Civic Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship class; Melanie Bullock Harris of Elon University and her Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows; Liz Bailey of Elon University and her Exercise and Intervention class; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois and her Illinois Impact Incubator participants.

“The Ignite Masterclass introduces you to leaders around the world engaged in social change and helps open doors so you can take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With more than 50 coaches and speakers joining the sessions every week throughout the fall, bring your curiosity, because you never know who you might meet each week!”