As our students look past Spring Break to the end of the semester, many of them hope to take a piece of SEGL home. In fact, they can. And they do. The Social Venture Project capstone ensures that.
One of three capstone projects that each SEGL graduate completes, the “SVP” allows students to put their DC experience–public speaking, negotiation, coalition building, persuasive writing, ethical values, and more–to work immediately. We also introduce our students to successful social entrepreneurs who serve as mentors.
Our first guest was Joe Weinstein, who has served as SEGL’s SVP “coach” for many semesters. He is now Senior Parter at Business for Impact at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Business for Impact works “to unleash the power of business to help people prosper and the planet thrive.”
Weinstein spent years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a global health specialist before serving as Senior Director for Strategy and Operations at Arabella Advisors, a leading consulting firm for philanthropic donors. He was also Senior Director of Operations and Planning at Signal Vine, a start-up company that uses text messaging to improve student outcomes, and advises Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative.
Weinstein led an interactive session that got students thinking about outcomes, and how they might drive SVP design. (He also brought the students donuts and coffee, which earned him instant credibility and helped supercharge the session!) The students also enjoyed hearing about his work with businesses, which many young people do not associate with positive social impact. Can businesses make money and do good? It’s an important question!
Next, the students met SEGL graduate Elad Raymond, a George Washington University student who co-founded the Onero Institute with another SEGL graduate several years ago. Onero is “a youth-driven, nonprofit research organization that seeks to develop the next generation of leaders and foreign affairs experts by bridging the divide between young people and the academic community and by better engaging youth and the world community on international issues.” It regularly hosts events with noted academic and foreign policy leaders. Raymond spoke about his own experience launching his SVP, offering lessons learned (about failure, about changing your original idea as you learn, and more) and taking student questions.
We also met with former Bush White House official Khary Cauthen, who returned us to our climate case study. Cauthen, a frequent guest expert in recent years, is a former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the George W. Bush Administration. After two years at CEQ, Cauthen transitioned to a thirteen-year career at the American Petroleum Institute, the leading oil and gas trade association and lobbying group. He is now Vice President at Cheniere Energy, which focuses on Liquified Natural Gas. Cauthen took a variety of penetrating questions in stride, providing insight into topics like the Green New Deal, China’s status as a “developing country,” and the role of government in mitigating climate change.
We will meet with our final climate expert, Christy Goldfuss, later this week.
Next up: Spring Break!