Empower Program for Social Entrepreneurship

Summer 2011 Empower Fellows


Zoe Schlag (A11)- Fundación Gente Nueva; Schwab Foundation Network Intern


Originally from Boulder, CO, Zoe graduated from Tufts University in 2011 with a B.A. in International Relations. Zoe first joined the IGL family as a BUILD Guatemala team member in her sophomore, traveling twice to Guatemala to conduct independent research and develop an ecotourism project with a fair trade organic coffee farm. Following this, Zoe spent a summer in Bolivia filming an ethnographic documentary and then a semester abroad in Chile, where she researched and presented a report on the state of poverty and marginalization in the squatter settlements of Valparaíso. Throughout her time at Tufts, Zoe spent her time interning with several non-profit organizations focusing on social justice and community development, as well as cultivating her love for running, languages, mountains and sandwiches. Following her Schwab Foundation Fellowship with Fundación Gente Nueva in Bariloche, Argentina, Zoe hopes to pursue a career working with high-impact social entrepreneurs.


Erica Lynn Goldstein (A12)- Physicians for Human Rights; Like-Minded Internship

Erica Lynn Goldstein became involved with the Institute of Global Leadership when she began BUILD Guatemala during her freshman year at Tufts. BUILD is a student-run organization that partners with rural villages to research and implement sustainable projects for human, social, and economic development. In 2010, Erica became BUILD’s representative for the Millennium Campus Network (MCN), a network of student groups that aim to eradicate global poverty. Erica is now on the MCN Board of Advisors as a Member Organization Representative. As a junior double majoring in Engineering Science and Biology, Erica constantly strives to find opportunities to use science and math to solve human rights and global health issues. During her Empower Fellowship, Erica conducted international research on armed conflict, health, and human rights at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). PHR is a nonprofit organization that uses the integrity of medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations against individuals. The internship culminated with the publication of Witness to War Crimes: Evidence in Misrata, a report that acknowledged her research on Libya. She has also interned at the Biomaterials and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Columbia University, working on the design of the biomaterial that integrates cartilage and bone in artificial transplants, which could potentially be used by arthritis patients.

Read Erica's Fellowship Reflection Here! (Word .docx 20.0KB)


Manjula Dissanayake (F12) – Educate Lanka Foundation; Social Entrepreneurship Grant

Manjula Dissanayake is Board of Overseers Scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts focusing on international development and social entrepreneurship. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Manjula came to the USA in 2001 to pursue his undergraduate studies. After graduating cum laude in Finance from the University of Maryland, College Park, Manjula worked in corporate banking and finance for five years in Washington DC. After founding a fundraising campaign to help Tsunami victims in 2005, Manjula went on to found Educate Lanka Foundation, Inc (www.educatelanka.org), a 501-c-3 non-profit social enterprise to empower underprivileged students in Sri Lanka through a micro-scholarship model.

Earlier in 2011, Manjula led Educate Lanka Foundation to the third place under Social Entrepreneurship category at the 7th Annual Business Plan Competition at Tufts. Educate Lanka then went onto become a current finalist at MassChallenge 2011 – the world’s largest start-up competition.  As an EMPOWER fellow, Manjula worked on specific expansion plans for Educate Lanka during the summer of 2011. After interning at International Finance Corporation (IFC) at the World Banka in Washington DC during early summer, he went to Sri Lanka to establish numerous corporate partnerships for Educate Lanka and expand the organization’s reach to the North and East parts of the island.

After graduating Fletcher, Manjula hopes to establish a professional career in international development and continue to manage and scale Educate Lanka Foundation’s mission. In the long term, Manjula hopes to serve the underprivileged communities around the world through his entrepreneurial ventures.

Read Manjula's Fellow Reflection Here! (.docx 16.1KB)


Nithyaa Venkataramani – BUILD: India; Social Entrepreneurship Grant

Nithyaa is a junior at Tufts, studying International Relations with a focus in Global Health and Psychology. She lives in Andover, Massachusetts and considers Tamil Nadu, India as her second home. Nithyaa currently serves as a co-director of the India project of the BUILD Program for Sustainable Development. It is through her experiences in India with the BUILD team to catalyze economic empowerment that she was connected to the EMPOWER program. Nithyaa enjoys the creativity and passion that this initiative inspires, and is grateful to be working with so many dedicated and talented peers. She aspires to keep learning about the different facets of development, especially in relation to medical, environmental and technological, and social factors. She intends to eventually earn a dual degree in public health and medicine after graduation, with specific focus on underserved populations all over the world.


Varun Hallikeri (F12) – FIT Uganda LTD.; Like-Minded Network Internship

Varun is a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy candidate (2012) at The Fletcher School. Previously, he worked with The Boston Consulting Group in Mumbai and Clifford Chance LLP in London. He has also interned with the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs (Government of India), and the International Bar Association. He received his law degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, India.

Earlier in 2010, Varun was part of a team of professionals who founded Pre-Legislative Briefing Service (PLBS), an independent think-tank to offer legal and policy inputs to Indian policy-makers. He submitted a report to the Indian Parliament titled ‘The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010: A Briefing Document’ in February 2011 and testified before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on 16 March 2011.

In the summer of 2011, Varun worked at FIT Uganda Limited, a small and medium enterprise consulting firm in Kampala, Uganda.

Read Varun's Fellow Reflection Here! (.docx 16.7KB)


Meagan Maher (A13) - AYINET; Like-Minded Network Internship

Meagan is a junior majoring in Peace and Justice Studies and International Relations.  She is particularly interested in post-conflict transformation and the roles both education and photography play in post-conflict peacebuilding.  



This past summer Meagan worked with the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) in Lira, Uganda.  AYINET aims to help build sustainable peace in Northern Uganda as it recovers from its brutal 20-year civil war.  As a multimedia specialist intern, Meagan worked on a program that integrated multimedia into local leaders’ existing peacebuilding efforts.  The intention of collaborating with the leaders was to increase the communities’ agency over peacebuilding and result in more sustainable peace.  Meagan helped train the community leaders in written, photographic, and video documentation methods.  She also assisted in brainstorming, designing, and developing multimedia tools, such as photographs, videos, and posters and stickers with peace messages.  This summer allowed her to pursue her passion for photography while exploring the connections between multimedia and peacebuilding in communities moving forward after conflict.


David Schwartz (A13) - BUILD India; Social Entrepreneurship Grant 

David Schwartz is a member of the Class of 2013 and is double majoring in international relations with a concentration on global health, nutrition, and the environment and English. He is minoring in Arabic. This past summer, David went with BUILD: India to a rural, southern village to implement three sustainable development projects, one of which was affiliated with his Empower Fellowship. David is interested in social entrepreneurship and its intersection with design, health, and wellbeing.

Read David's Fellow Reflection Here! (.docx 157.9KB)



Cody Valdes (A13) - Sisi Ni Amani; Social Entrepreneurship Grant

Cody Valdes is a student and writer from Vancouver, Canada. As an Institute for Global Leadership Empower Fellow and Synaptic Scholar at Tufts University, he has conducted research internationally in a number of countries, publishing work on the intersection of foreign aid, elite oligarchies, and mass poverty in the Philippines and the impact of the Olympic Games on impoverished urban communities in Vancouver. He has co-founded social initiatives in the field of conflict transformation in Rwanda, Kenya, and the Israeli-Gaza border. Most recently, he was co-founder of Sisi ni Amani, a project that is developing SMS-based conflict response mechanisms in violence-prone communities in Kenya in preparation for its 2012 elections. In this capacity he was a finalist at the World Bank’s Innovation Fair in South Africa and lived in Nairobi, Kenya for one year co-directing its implementation. He has been invited to speak at and participate in conferences by Engineers Without Borders International, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Clinton Global Initiative University in Cyprus, Norway, and within the continental United States, and participated on planning committees for the Institute for Global Leadership’s 2009 International Symposium on Global Cities and 2010 International Symposium on South Asia. As an Institute Synaptic Scholar, he is presently completing his undergraduate degree in Political Science, where his primary interests include the affairs of nations, elite state-capture, cognitive sciences of brain development, and social philosophies.

Read Cody's Fellow Reflection Here! (.docx 141.62KB) 


Patric Gibbons (A13) - Tufts Timmy Health Initiative; Social Entrepreneurship Grant

Patric is a Senior studying Biochemistry. He has always had aspirations to become involved in healthcare on an international scale to help work to correct inequalities and alleviate poverty across the world. After becoming involved with Tufts Timmy Global Health during his Junior year, Patric spent the following summer abroad in Guatemala working in a rural healthcare clinic serving some of the poorest populations in the country. He also was a member of the Tufts Timmy Clean Water Team, who are continuing their clean water initiative this year. As for his hobbies, Patric loves to practice JiuJitsu, and being from Boston he is also a passionate Patriots and Red Sox fan.

 Read the Timmy Group's Reflection Here! (.docx 16.24KB)


Lucia Smith (A13) - Tufts Timmy Health Initiative; Social Entrepreneurship Grant

Lucia Smith is a Junior majoring in biology, and is especially interested in the ways that biological methods and understanding can be integrated into global health initiatives. As the current Advocacy Chair of Tufts Timmy Global Health, she works to promote awareness of the pressing health needs and disparities that exist in the rural, indigenous Guatemalan communities of Quetzaltenango. This summer she worked with other Tufts Timmy-Empower fellows to develop the group’s clean water project, as well as research possible community-lead filter production systems. During her time in Guatemala, she also worked on their partner organization’s clean stove project, a program which combines engineering, financial efficiency, and community health in its efforts to combat the problems associated with open, indoor cooking fires. Through her work with Timmy Global Health, Lucia has come to understand the fascinating relationship between technology, anthropology, economics, and health, and hopes to continue exploring this intersection of ideas in the future.

 Read the Timmy Group's Reflection Here! (.docx 16.24KB)