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“Navigating the Unknown”: Ajax Jackson, Tessa Zimmerman Discuss Social Innovation in the Age of the Coronavirus

Social innovators Tessa Zimmerman of ASSET Education and Ajax Jackson of Magnolia Yoga Studio will be the next guests on the Sullivan Foundation’s new live-streamed webinar series, “Navigating the Unknown.” Zimmerman and Jackson will speak with Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, from 5-6 p.m. (ET), Friday, March 27. The webinar will be hosted on Zoom and streamed on Facebook Live.

Details for joining the call can be found on the Sullivan Foundation’s Facebook Event Page.  You can join the Zoom call at https://zoom.us/j/399894174 at the appropriate time.

The Sullivan Foundation launched the “Navigating the Unknown” series in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The series addresses the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs, innovators and nonprofits as they guide their communities and clientele through the health crisis. Each call features two social entrepreneurs or innovators from the Sullivan Foundation’s Speakers Bureau, who share how they are responding to the pandemic in their communities and through their work. They also discuss the challenges they’ve faced and the challenges they’ve overcome as social innovators and changemakers.

photo of Tess Zimmerman, founder of ASSET Education

Tessa Zimmerman, founder of ASSET Education

Tessa Zimmerman, who suffered extreme anxiety in the classroom as a youth, founded ASSET Education in 2016. ASSET equips teachers with a curriculum of concrete tools to help their students reduce stress and build resilience. Composed of three modules—Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and Positive Self-Talk—the program ensures that all students walk away by the end of the academic year with at least one new stress-reducing tool that works for them.

Ajax Jackson (pictured at top) founded Magnolia Yoga Studio as New Orleans’ first black-owned yoga studio. The studio’s mission is to support growth, healing and empowerment through the art and science of hot yoga and community. Jackson works with her clients to develop and strengthen life skills such as courage, patience and intuition through yoga.

The first webinar in the “Navigating the Unknown” series was held on Wednesday, March 25. It featured Tony Weaver, Jr., founder of Weird Enough Productions, and Jasmine Babers, founder of Love Girls Magazine.

Featured entrepreneurs and schedules for upcoming webinars are listed below. Many of the guests were scheduled to speak or lead workshops at the Sullivan Foundation’s Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat—a twice-yearly event for college students with a passion for social entrepreneurship and community service—until the event had to be canceled due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Through the “Navigating the Unknown” webinar series, college students, faculty/staff members and other members of the social enterprise sector will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from these leading social innovators. No previous affiliation with the Sullivan Foundation or its programming is required to view or participate in the call.

All webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the Sullivan Foundation’s website at www.sullivanfdn.org/webinar for later reference.

Additional dates and speakers will be announced over the next few weeks, Marshall said. The schedule thus far is as follows:

Fri, March 27, from 5-6 p.m. ET
Tessa Zimmerman of ASSET 
Ajax Jackson of Magnolia Yoga

Wed, April 1, from 12-1 p.m. ET
Josh Nadzam of On the Move Art Studio
Abhinav Khanal of Bean Voyage

Fri, April 3, from 5-6 p.m. ET
Reagan Pugh of Assemble
Dustin Betz of Founders Institute

University Students Learn Social Entrepreneurship Skills at Sullivan Foundation’s Upcoming Ignite Retreat

Students from throughout the southeastern United States will meet in Asheville, N.C., October 18-20, to attend the Sullivan Foundation’s social entrepreneurship-focused Ignite Retreat.

Sullivan retreats are designed to immerse students in a series of targeted workshops that help them “ignite” ideas for making positive change in their communities or develop a social business enterprise or event that might solve or alleviate a problem.

this photo conveys the energy of the Ignite Retreat attendees

Ignite Retreat attendees learned how to build social enterprise businesses and made new connections and friends at the Spring 2019 Ignite Retreat.

“The Sullivan Foundation recognizes students and community leaders who have led lives with integrity characterized by service above self and service to their communities. We’ve presented awards each year since 1890 to outstanding students primarily. And since 1934, we have provided scholarships to deserving students,” said Steve McDavid, the Foundation’s president. “In 2008, we added focused programming, including the Ignite events, to foster social enterprise activities.”

Related: View a photo gallery of the Spring 2019 Ignite Retreat

Students interested in the Ignite Retreat may attend a series of workshops and activities and connect with many socially conscious, like-minded individuals from throughout the southeast and beyond. They may also choose from three educational programming tracks for the weekend based on whether they are just beginning their social entrepreneurial journey, have a set of social challenges they would like to learn how to address now, or have a specific social venture they would like to bring to life.

this photo depicts a self-empowered yoga instructor who will facilitate workshops at the Sullivan Foundation's Ignite Retreat

Ajax Jackson, founder of Magnolia Yoga in New Orleans, says that once you can get your body into an open and flexible, you can do the same with your mind.

Students can also pitch their projects to experienced social entrepreneurs, gain access to and get feedback from Sullivan Award alumni, and receive access to Sullivan scholarship funding.

Spud Marshall, founder of the co.space and innovation director at 3 Dots, will lead the Fall Ignite Retreat, along with Harrison Wood, program coordinator for the Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program. The event also will feature an impressive roster of dynamic, experienced facilitators, coaches, innovators and social entrepreneurs, including:

Holley Murchison, founder and CEO of Oratory Glory and founding partner of HOLI. Brands

Crystal Dreisbach, founder of GreenToGo and executive director of Don’t Waste Durham

Ajax Jackson, founder of Magnolia Yoga

Abhinav Khanal, co-founder of Bean Voyage

Reagan Pugh, founding partner of Assemble

Tessa Zimmerman, founder of ASSET Education

Chad Littlefield, founder of WE!

Interested students may purchase tickets for the Ignite Retreat until October 2. General admission is $425. However, a select group of students from the 70-plus Sullivan Network Schools may be eligible to receive a sponsored ticket. Meals and housing are included with admission.

this photo shows that Crystal Dreisbach is a social innovator with a unique product

Crystal Dreisbach, founder of GreenToGo in Durham, North Carolina, is also leading a campaign to reduce single-use plastic in the city.

For further information go to www.sullivanfdn.org/events or call 662-236-6335. To register go to www.sullivanfdn.org/ignite/#tickets.  You may also e-mail questions regarding the events to admin@sullivanfdn.org.

Related: Ignite Retreat speaker leads charge to reduce plastic waste in Durham, N.C.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation was founded in 1934, but its roots date back 60 years earlier when U.S. President Grover Cleveland and a group of other influential persons created the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to honor those that inspire a life of integrity and service. Sullivan Awards have been presented to people whose lives of service have changed the world with little fanfare as well as those who have become household names – recipients include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, to name a few.

this photo shows the fun energy that Chad Littlefield brings to his Ignite Retreat presentations

Team-building expert Chad Littlefield of We! helps groups of people engage in conversations that matter. (Photo by Amber Merklinger, Amber Faith Photography)