As CEO of Yes Builds, a global consulting and training firm, and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and business management at Shenandoah University, Yolanda Shields will bring two decades of business experience as a facilitator and coach to the foundation’s upcoming Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat, taking place April 1-3 in Staunton, Virginia.

Held twice a year, the Ignite Retreat brings together a team of facilitators, coaches and conspirators who lead college students on a journey to discover how they can change the world in a positive way, whether through social entrepreneurship, the nonprofit sector or public policy leadership, among many possibilities. The deadline to register for the Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat is Monday, March 14.

Click here to learn more about the Ignite Retreat and to register.

Shields has assisted more than 20 corporations in business operations, funding, workforce pipeline strategy, talent development, strategic planning and more. She has authored five books since 2013 and is also a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Shields’ books have included “Letters to Our Sons: A Mother’s Journey—Raising Sons to Become Men With Character and Courage,” and “Entrepreneurship Is a Mindset, Not a Storefront.”

In this Q&A with the Sullivan Foundation, Shields talks about her career in entrepreneurship, consulting and coaching and her belief that entrepreneurship is key to driving positive social change.

Can you tell us about your work as a professor of entrepreneurship at Shenandoah?

Shields: I am an adjunct faculty member at Shenandoah University in the School of Business, teaching entrepreneurship and business management. I attended Austin Peay State University and certificate programs from Vanderbilt and Harvard University.  I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and started out doing lecture series and cohort training on university campuses.

I am also founder and CEO of Yes Builds as well as a global business advisor/strategist and bestselling author with over 20 years of experience as a business leader. I have done international workforce development and social entrepreneurship work in the continent of Africa and other third-world countries. Yes Builds is a global consulting and training firm with a focus on business strategy, executive coaching (CEOs/owners or founders), startups, human capital management (HR), social entrepreneurship, international workforce development, and celebrity charity management.

I am currently a mentor/coach at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (a nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship in Africa), Vanderbilt University Wond’ry Innovation Center, and, as well as a board member of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, Staunton Community Capital Fund, and a GO Virginia Region 8 Council member.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in teaching entrepreneurship? Or how did that career choose you?

Shields: This career definitely chose me. I had been doing work with several universities in the area of entrepreneurship in a lecture series format. After moving to Virginia two years ago, I was connected to Shenandoah University through their entrepreneurship institute and was asked to teach one class. I love being able to train the next generation of leaders in the areas of business and entrepreneurship.

What are the issues you are most passionate about as a changemaker and educator?

I really believe entrepreneurship is about solving problems and is also a way to create jobs and assist in decreasing poverty in the U.S. and internationally.

Why did you decide to become an Ignite Retreat coach? What drew you to our event?

Shields: I was approached about the opportunity from entrepreneur ecosystem network members. I love training and equipping the next generation to solve problems in their community or area of interest, and I believe social entrepreneurship will assist them in doing that.

What unique gifts or skills will you bring to the Ignite Retreat?

Shields: I am a great listener and able to assist individuals to pull out what is already on the inside of them. I hope the students will learn to take risks and that they have the ability to solve problems that they see in a collaborative way and that they don’t have to have all the answers to get started.

Related: College students will discover their change making superpowers in Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad France program

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