Letter from the President

Welcome, readers and Sullivan Foundation supporters, to the second issue of Engage magazine. We’re especially grateful for the positive response and the constructive feedback we got on the first issue. We’ve made some changes and added some new features to make this one even more enjoyable than the first.

Our first Social Change Challenge, concluded at the spring retreat, provided seed funding for several student-driven social ventures. Our next challenge will kick off in October 17-19, during the fall retreat in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The Alumni gathering in Raleigh-Durham, another spring highlight, was attended by medallion and scholarship recipients from 12 schools, including Duke, UNC, Campbell, Elon, and St. Andrew’s.

We also expanded the Sullivan family during the spring, adding two wonderful institutions to the fold: Bellarmine University of Louisville, Kentucky, and Washington Adventist University of Takoma Park, Maryland. I look forward to seeing the impact of these new partnerships.

Over the last few months, we financially sponsored 20 Sullivan students in Prague, Rome, and North Carolina for the summer. Their collaborations with students from all across the world allowed them to study principles of social change while working directly on leadership and service issues.

This year, in addition to our regional retreats, summer programs, and social change challenge, we will be on campus with Berry College and Erskine College working on a “campus plan” to educate and elevate service and social change principles. We hope to build on this first effort and offer that same commitment to our other schools over the next few years.

Finally, I’d like to personally remind everyone to feel free to reach out to us. The foundation is here to assist you in your efforts, so let us know what we can do to help. Thanks so much for your support and all that you do for others.


Stephan Land McDavid
President, Sullivan Foundation

Sullivan Flashback: Margaret Pickard Sirvis

Sirvis at the age of 90 at Camp Graham in Vance County, North Carolina

When Margaret Pickard Sirvis recently visited Camp Graham of the Girl Scouts’ North Carolina Coastal Pines council, she met lots of young girls with whom she had something in common—they were all girl scouts.

What set Sirvis apart, however, was the length of her commitment, which runs from her joining the organization in the mid-1930s all the way up to today. Not many of the campers had ever met a 90-year-old girl scout.

Sirvis’ capacity for commitment isn’t limited to scouting, however. She won the Sullivan Award at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a student in 1944. Her award citation noted her accomplishments: vice president of the YWCA; a member of Valkyries, UNC’s highest women’s honorary group; a member of the coed senate; and a member of the student legislature.

Sirvis (foreground) at Camp Shirley Rogers in Roaring Gap, North Carolina, in the mid-1930s

Sirvis’s undergraduate career was only a springboard into a lifetime of good work, however. She parlayed a college interest in social justice and activism surrounding racial equality into a lifetime of dedication to improving the world around her. She worked on mental health and urban youth issues. She has been active throughout her life in the Presbyterian church, the American Association of University Women, and, of course, the Girl Scouts.

Even at 90, Sirvis is still actively supporting and inspiring others, whether it’s through her philanthropy, her stories, or simply her visits to young girl scouts. For them, she’s a walking example of a life well lived.

Working for the weekend

Sullivan retreat weekends help students and facilitators find success in Service to Others

After four years, the Sullivan Foundation’s  Service & Social Entrepreneurship Program’s retreat weekends have emerged as a signature event for the foundation. The idea for the program developed organically as the foundation became aware of the need to foster the development and mentorship of students.

“We realized that our awards and scholarship programs  were passively  recognizing exceptional students and community members committed to the service of others, but there really wasn’t anything out there to help them develop their skills and ideas in solving social problems,” says Steve McDavid, Sullivan Foundation President. “We decided it was time to get actively engaged in the development of our students and campuses, in hopes of generating engines for change.

Erin Harvell, Jeron Crawford, Daniel Prohaska, and Professor Brad Smith represented Erskine College at the 2013 Fall Retreat

Since their inception in 2010, the retreat weekends have brought together over 350 students and faculty from 45 schools to work with social-minded educators, students, and entrepreneurs, as well as facilitators from across the country on a variety of subjects. While most programming is in support of the students, a dedicated faculty track has also been developed to train faculty to identify and encourage students who have the potential to contribute to the effort to solve social issues in the American South.

David Gray, Poverty to Opportunity Project Coordinator for the Louisiana Budget Project (www.labudget.org), has led sessions during multiple retreat weekends, and has seen the format of the weekend evolve.

“Initially, all the students and faculty attended the same workshops, most of which were lecture-style,” he says. “Now, the retreat features multiple tracks and more workshops so students and faculty attendees can tailor the experience to meet their backgrounds and goals for the weekend. The workshops are more interactive and hands-on too, making the weekend very engaging and rewarding for everyone. Most importantly, the retreat has become a shared teaching and learning experience. Facilitators learn just as much from attendees as we teach—creating a more rewarding, impactful, and meaningful experience for all.”

2013 Fall Retreat participants brainstorm with facilitator Matthew Abrams

Two notable businesses developed during this program are already operating successfully and making an impact. The R.I.S.E program (http://www.gainesvillehousing.org/rise), currently running in Gainesville, GA, as well as Amazig Leathers (http://www.amazigleathers.com/) in Knoxville, TN were conceived and developed to the point of a launch during retreat weekends.

“The most powerful factor for the success of this retreat is the environment that the facilitators create, says Spud Marshall, creator of New Leaf Initiative (www.newleafinitiative.org) and the CoSpace (www.cospace.com), as well as a retreat facilitator since 2011. “There truly is a magic that goes on during the sessions which is not easily replicated or produced.”

Chantella Crosby is a current Campbell University student and retreat participant who has experienced that magic from the other side.

“Our experiences from the retreat are shaped by everyone that we meet, stories shared, ideas not only voiced but created, and the inspiration, encouragement, support, and foundation that all of us contribute to each other and for ourselves,” she says.

The program is facilitated by leaders in the social entrepreneurship movement like Gray and Marshall, as well as others like Alan Webb, creator of Open Master’s (www.openmasters.org); Matthew Abrams, co-founder of Mycelium (www.mycelium.is).

Students from Saint Leo University and Oglethorpe University connect during a retreat weekend

The spirit of dynamic cooperation and bonding that occurs during these weekend retreats is a common experience and one that neither facilitators nor participants ever expected. Daniel Prohaska, a recent Erskine College graduate, has participated in three retreat weekends.

“When I think about the students and faculty who have participated in these weekends, I see a group of people who are committed to transforming our world and leaving it a better place than they found it,” says Prohaska. “I see a group of people who think about the world in an exciting, new way. I see a group of people who can go back into their communities and serve as beacons of hope generating new ideas, businesses, and lifestyles for the people around them. We can do that right now, at this moment, wherever we are.”

Now entering its fifth year, the Service & Social Entrepreneurship Program’s retreat weekends promise continued impact and support to students, faculty, and staff interested in making change in their communities. The fall retreat will take place October 17-19, 2014 and the spring retreat will be April 17-19. More information and registration is available online at www.sullivanfdn.org.

How to spell S-E-R-V-I-C-E

The career and passion of Sam Miglarese

Sam Miglarese..director of community development. photographed at the Kaboom Playground at the Community Family Life and Rec Center at Lyon Park..for the Guiding Principles poster series

To say that Sam Miglarese has had a multifaceted career would be to put things mildly. He has studied in Italy and England, worked as a professor and a pastor in more places than can be counted on two hands, and served Duke University for 15 years as an outreach coordinator.

Most recently, he concluded a three-year stint in a truly unusual vocation: Spelling Bee Pronouncer.

Despite how many places he’s gone and things he’s done, however, Miglarese’s career has had, at its core, a consistent theme of service to others.

Miglarese first came to Duke after 28 years in church ministry in South Carolina, which he mixed in with a lot of college teaching work in theology and philosophy on the side. In his current position as director of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, Miglarese serves as a liaison between the university and six neighborhoods in the Durham community, working closely with academic departments as well as student engagement organizations.

From that position, Miglarese finds his way into all sorts of unexpected ventures. The spelling bee gig came about when the former pronouncer, Judith Ruderman, a visiting professor in the Duke English department and former vice provost, stepped down after two years. The job involves learning the correct pronunciations of all the words in the spelling bee in order to guide contestants along as they navigate the tricky word list.

“My favorite part is being an active participant,” Miglarese says. “I love words. All my life, reading has been a very active part of my weekly routine and I would say that knowing, learning new words, experiencing the power of words I think sort of motivated me even more to accept the challenge that was offered.”

The winner of Miglarese’s regional competition moves on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee—a huge honor for the students competing, but also a source of tremendous pressure. That’s where the biggest service aspect comes in for the adults facilitating.

“These youngsters put in so much time and effort and their parents are so emotionally connected to their child that I don’t want to be the reason why a child misspelled a word,” he says.

Miglarese also helps various organizations on campus establish service programs. The Swimming With the Blue Devils (SWBD) program, for example, brings minority and inner-city children from the Durham community, who might not have access to pools or swimming instruction, to campus. There, they get one-on-one lessons from the varsity swimmers of the Blue Devil swim team.

The idea for SWBD came from former Duke diver Lauren Gonzalez and was made a reality through a collaboration between Gonzalez and several organizations, including Miglarese’s. With the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, he gets the opportunity to help Duke community members’ service aspirations come to life.

And, as if that weren’t enough, he gets to recognize those community members who go above and beyond in those aspirations. Miglarese serves as the overall facilitator for the selection of winners of the Sullivan award at Duke. It’s a particularly fitting job for Miglarese, who won the award himself while working at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1978.

If ever there were an example of a Sullivan award well-deserved, Miglarese fits the bill. In the 36 years since, he’s shown again and again that service truly is at the core of what he’s all about.

To Africa (and maybe the moon)

Brin Enterkin changes lives in Uganda and looks forward to a lifetime of service

Well before graduating from Berry College in 2012, Brin Enterkin had already made a positive impact on the world.  Teaching micro-finance during her summer break in Uganda in 2009 inspired her to help build a new micro-lending structure from the ground up. It’s a far cry from her dream job growing up, which was to be a garbage woman, an occupation she says she thought of as “dangling off of the back of the truck singing show tunes at the top of my lungs.”

A longtime friend of the Sullivan Foundation, Enterkin has served as a facilitator for the retreat weekends as well as a teaching assistant for the Costa Rica Summer Institute in 2012. She strongly encourages other students to take part in Sullivan programs.

“The retreat is an excellent opportunity to brainstorm through big ideas and connect with like-minded folks to change the world,” she says.

Enterkin works with Ugandan women
to create handmade bow ties through her
company, Lion’s Thread

Enterkin’s first project while a student was creating The African SOUP (The Sponsorship for Orphans in Uganda Project) (http://theafricansoup.org), which initially focused on education and malnutrition challenges. What started as fundraising efforts to feed vulnerable children has now morphed into a formalized primary school with 352 students attending. SOUP is registered as a 501(c)3 based out of Atlanta, Georgia,  and a registered INGO in Uganda. The organization is hoping to expand its reach and is always looking for passionate partners to join them in their mission.

Enterkin also founded Berry Nonprofit Strategic Services, a student-operated enterprise which assists non-profit organizations with marketing, fundraising, website development, and multiple aspects of branding and launching a non-profit.

In short, it was a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time, even for the most ambitious of college students. Now that she’s graduated, Enterkin hasn’t let up one bit.

Enterkin uses African
textiles for the bowties her company produces

Her latest adventure involves a return to Uganda as CEO of Lion’s Thread (www.lionsthread.com), a company marketing high-quality hand-made bow ties crafted by Ugandan women from African textiles. With profits providing money for salaries, entrepreneurship training, and seed funding, the goal of Lion’s Thread is to provide Ugandan women the opportunity to one day start a business of their own. Enterkin and her business partner, Sydney Hulebak, received a $4,000 Resolution Project grant for the venture from Hulebak’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative.

“I feel called to live and serve in Uganda for the rest of my life,” Enterkin says. “That being said, I could also see myself taking a few years to explore graduate school. I might also go to the moon—a wise man once said, ‘dare greatly.’ This means I may remain in the rural village of Nabikalbala or I might serve in public office in the U.S.”

A campus with a mission

Mary Baldwin students travel to Haiti to change their own lives as well as the lives of others

Students Joyce Campbell (left) and Derrica Stone make friends with the children of Cherident

Mary Baldwin College’s commitment to service-learning and global engagement is nothing new. An emphasis on serving others runs deep through the school’s history. In fact, Mary Baldwin is a Sullivan scholarship and award school and gave out its first Sullivan award all the way back in 1933.

That long-standing commitment to service recently manifested itself in some truly remarkable outreach. Members of the Mary Baldwin community from a wide array of disciplines traveled to the town of Cherident, a rural community about three hours’ drive south of Port Au Prince, the Haitian capital.

Elsa Vasquez-Flores works on mural designs with children

“I’ve talked to many people—and now I understand it myself—there is this feeling once you go to Haiti that you don’t really come back,” says Associate Professor of Marketing and Communication Bruce Dorries, who was part of a group that traveled to Cherident for Spring Break in March 2014. “Part of you is still there, thinking about the people and what you can do together next time.”

In addition to Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff from social entrepreneurism, communication, social work, and physical therapy, the network currently includes area churches, Waynesboro-based solar energy company Sigora Solar, retired local priest Father Roger Bowen, the August Lions Club, and the Haitian Education Foundation in Arkansas. Dorries hopes the group will soon expand to include more organizations that have connections with Haiti, including Blue Ridge Community College, which boasts a long-standing social entrepreneurial partnership with the Haitian village of Mon Lopital.

Brittany James talks with members of the Cherident community

The goals of the trips are as diverse as the people and groups involved. The recent visit to Cherident was spent conducting community needs assessment research, providing physical therapy for more than 150 people, and working with Cherident locals to create a mural. That striking piece of public art is meant to reflect the history, landscape, and identity of the area.

The Mary Baldwin group will also host an event in October called “Café Haiti.” The gathering will convene local organizations and individuals to share what they have learned from working in Haiti and discuss how to better coordinate efforts and support each other. With service-learning trips already planned for undergraduates and grad students in the summer of 2015 and for doctoral students in physical therapy from the newly-opened Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in summer 2016, Mary Baldwin is committed to a long-term relationship with the country.