Kent works at and on the intersection of power, hegemony, social change and organizational and inter-organizational dynamics, particularly in Aidland north, south, east, and west. He’s held global leadership positions with CARE and Oxfam -- where he led strategic planning, organizational learning, development, accountability, and evaluation units – and has a joint appointment at MIIS in the Development Practice and Policy (DPP) and MBA programs. Recent consulting partners have included the U.S. Army, Ford Foundation, Geneva Global, Save the Children US, Food for Peace, and Free the Slaves. He is on the Board of numerous organizations and initiatives, including the Management Assistance Group, International Initiative for Social Sustainability, and IFAD’s Participatory Impact Assessment and Learning initiative. Kent also is an associate editor of the Action Research Journal and co-editor of the forthcoming Third Edition of The Handbook of Action Research.
Rob Lalka the Director of Strategy and Partnerships for Village Capital. Previously, he was the Senior Advisor for Global Partnerships at the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, and before that, he served in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Office of Global Partnerships and was a member of her Policy Planning Staff. He has co-authored partnership strategies for the United Nations and the World Bank and has been a Presidential Management Fellow, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and a Truman National Security Project Fellow. He graduated from Yale University and holds his master’s degree in global public policy from Duke University.
Patricia oversees I-DEV Africa’s operations as well as the global Insight team, which advises SMEs and corporations , as well as development organizations and foundations, on emerging markets business and economic development strategy. Patricia has consulted on market-based solutions to poverty, CSR and business growth throughout Africa and Latin America. She is also a member of the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs’ East Africa Steering Committee.
Prior to joining I-DEV, Patricia worked in investment banking, consulting and corporate social responsibility at the Environmental Financial Consulting Group (EFCG) in New York. Patricia received her B.A. in Environmental Science from Barnard College/Columbia University, and her Masters in Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business and INCAE- Costa Rica, where she studied Global Business & Entrepreneurship.
Alex Bashian is the Senior Investment Manager for Invested Development, an impact fund investing in early stage companies focused on innovations in alternative energy, sustainable agriculture, and information and communications. Alex leads new investments in the alternative energy space, provides portfolio management services to existing investees, launched and currently oversees the firm's Nairobi, Kenya office, and developed the firm's first venture debt investment strategy.
Prior to joining Invested Development, Alex served as an energy expert and access-to-finance consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, and an energy analyst at Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, where he focused on de-regulated electricity markets, renewable energy systems, and sustainable investing. During the course of his work Alex has lived and worked abroad for over 3 years, mainly in East Africa.
Alex received his BA in Environmental Science with a minor in Business from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and received his MPA in Energy & Economic Policy from Columbia University.
Jason Spindler leads I-DEV's global team, vision and strategy. Jason has over a decade of experience in global finance, venture capital, business management and industry development in both developed and emerging markets. Jason is a former investment banker from Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup. He later joined the private equity arm of turnaround specialists AlixPartners. Jason then moved from New York to Peru where he served as a business and economic development volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps and later helped launch a farmer-owned agri-business that today is an industry leading, multi-million dollar enterprise.
Jason has advised Fortune 500 Companies and leading impact sector organizations including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Grupo Bimbo, Ashoka, Acumen Fund, the Grassroots Business Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank on emerging markets investment and business strategies. He has been recognized as a leader in the impact investing and social entrepreneurship sectors and is a recipient of the prestigious Reynolds Fellowship for Social Innovation and the Helton Global Human Rights Fellowship.
Jason has a Juris Doctorate from New York University, with a specialization in Fund Structuring and Social Entrepreneurship. He also studied South Asian social entrepreneurship & development policy at the National University of Singapore's International Law Program and received his B.B.A. in International Finance and his B.A. in International Development Economics from University of Texas-Austin.
Amit Sharma is currently engaged in several global initiatives that intersect markets, risk management and international development. He is co-founder of Empowerment Capital, an investment management and strategic advisory company focused on income generative scalable enterprise for the global poor—leveraging the power of institutional capital, and consulting corporate entities in the engagement of and support to market-viable poverty alleviative commercial initiatives.
Separately, he is assisting in the development of an inter-disciplinary network of experts that delivers shared solutions to multi-faceted global risk challenges to private, public, non-profit and development institutions. The Risk Assistance Network and Exchange, or RANE, is a technology-based for-profit enterprise operating in the broad public interest.
Previously, Amit served as the Head of Operations and Strategy at Command Global Services (CGS), where he worked with former Deputy National Security Advisor Juan Zarate, to manage the investigations, intervention and recovery of stolen sovereign assets, and the strengthening of sovereign financial integrity and regulatory controls. Prior to joining CGS, Amit worked as the Chief of Staff for Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (USA), Inc. the American investment banking and brokerage unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and as Head of Project Management for the firm’s International Business Unit. Amit also worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, first serving as a Senior Advisor in the Department's newly formed Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, helping to initiate and apply the Government’s financial and economic instruments to combat national security threats in a post 9/11 environment. His global portfolio included the development and execution of anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing strategies. He also served as the Chief of Staff to the Treasury’s Deputy Secretary Bob Kimmitt, and Advisor to the senior Treasury team, led by Secretary Henry Paulson.
He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and teaches regularly on issues related to international security policy, counter-terrorism finance, risk, and social venture development. Mr. Sharma was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia, where he met his wife, Thayer Tomlinson, a fellow volunteer, and is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He lives with his family of two boys in Guilford, VT.
Courses: Introduction to Social Enterprise and Impact Investing and Scouting and Developing a Winning Social Venture
Ross developed the Village Capital concept in 2009, and has led the development of programs worldwide. Before launching Village Capital, he worked with First Light Ventures, a seed fund focused on impact investments. Prior to First Light, Ross worked on the development of four education-related start-up ventures: the Indian School Finance Company in Hyderabad, India; the National College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two ventures using technology to promote civic participation.
Ross has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.
Courses: Diligence Process and Decision in Impact Investment
Paul Breloff founded and manages Venture Lab, an Accion-sponsored seed stage investment initiative focused on the world’s most innovative financial inclusion startups.
He conceived, built and lead all facets of global seed investment and portfolio management activities for Venture Lab, having sourced, analyzed and negotiated investments in India, Kenya, Mexico, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and the U.S. Paul has has also secured funding partnerships from Rockefeller Foundation, Gates Foundation, and CGAP, and advisory relationships with a range of other leaders in the financial inclusion space.
Courses: Designing an Innovative Business Model
Dr. Yuwei Shi is Dean and Professor of Strategic Management at the Institute. An expert in competitive strategy and early-stage venture business model development and evaluation, he has published over three dozen papers in peer-reviewed journals and a number of books and book chapters. He has taught MBA and doctoral programs in nearly a dozen universities across the globe, and won the Excellence in Teaching Award at the Institute and the Allen Griffith Teaching Award.
Dr. Shi is Founding Director of the Frontier Market Scouts Fellowship Program, and currently serves as a board director for Sanghata Global, a U.K. public charity, and the World Bee Project, a U.K Community Interest Corporation. He has fifteen years of experience building successful programs and companies at the Nanyang Business School, Andersen Consulting, PeerView, Scholarly Exchange, China Economic Daily, Bain & Co, and Indachin. Dr. Shi earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Master of Comparative Law from the Dedmen School of Law at Southern Methodist University, and PhD in international management from University of Texas at Dallas School of Management.
Courses: Scaling High-impact Social Enterprises
Lewis Hower is the Executive Director of the Sorenson Global Impact Investing (SGII) Center at the University of Utah. The SGII Center is an industry-leading program that facilitates the growth of the impact investing space while educating the next generation of social and environmental leaders. The SGII's student associates collaborate with leading social venture funds, banks, foundations, consulting firms and social entrepreneurs to identify, fund, and grow businesses that have significant social and/or, environmental impact.
Prior to the creation of UIF, Lewis served as the Marketing Manager for the Sorenson Housing Opportunity Fund, an affiliate of Huntsman Gay Capital Impact, where he focused on fundraising and finance operations for the project which invests in the creation of affordable housing and finance products for the working poor of India. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Community Foundation of Utah where he is the co-director of the committee for entrepreneurship and is focused on innovating new models of social and business development for community engagement.
Lewis holds a B.S.E. in Bioengineering from Arizona State University where he spent time working in startup biotechnology research and small business operations.
Courses: Due Diligence Process and Decisions in Impact Investment
Miguel Granier is the Founder/Managing Director of Invested Development (ID), a Boston-based impact investment management firm. Before founding ID, Miguel, was the founding Investment Manager for First Light Ventures and founder of MCAP Consulting. He began his career in social enterprise as a loan officer for ACCION New York and has also worked for the insurance giant Fidelity National Financial in New York and Delter Business Institute in Beijing, China.
A world-renowned entrepreneur, business leader and societal innovator, James Lee Sorenson provided the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah with a $13 million gift in 2013 to create the James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center (SGI Center), which will cultivate impact investing expertise in students. Jim will play an active role in setting the SGII Center’s direction and mentoring its student participants.
Jim helped develop several new industry categories in today's business world, including digital video compression software, mass-market videophones, video relay service for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and environmental testing. Jim enjoys combining innovative and worthwhile ideas with talented management teams to produce growing new enterprises. This successful combination has produced thousands of new jobs and vibrant companies.
His philanthropic endeavors have been equally fruitful, helping establish highly impactful programs and organizations that improve the lives of the working poor, help build regional business communities and train the next generation of entrepreneurial and investment leaders.
Early in his career, Jim acquired and managed Utah Biomedical Test Labs and spun out a promising division, DataChem Laboratories, as an independent venture. DataChem became one of the nation’s largest environmental testing laboratories, pioneering today's environmental testing industry.
As CEO of Sorenson Media, Jim built a team that developed the world's leading digital compression software, which played a crucial role in the emergence and prominence of video compression technology in Apple QuickTime, Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash and YouTube. The team also developed a high-quality, low-cost videophone that became the industry's standard design, for the groundbreaking nationwide video relay service for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. This enabled the deaf to communicate via the Internet through interpreters in their visual native language, American Sign Language, with any hearing person in the United States.
Spun off as Sorenson Communications, the video relay service company expanded quickly, growing from 50 to 2,500 employees while raising revenue by 400 percent in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the company was acquired in the most lucrative private equity deal in Utah history up to that time. Sorenson Communications remains the nation’s preeminent provider of video relay services and Utah’s leading technology company with thousands of employees nationwide.
In 2009, Jim led a team that acquired a $701 million structured portfolio of commercial real estate loans from the FDIC. In addition, Jim served as chairman of the board of MediConnect Global, a leader in medical record retrieval and digitization that sold to Verisk Analytics in 2012 for nearly $377 million.
In 2001, Jim provided the seed money for the University Venture Fund (UVF) at the David Eccles School of Business. Now the world’s largest student-run educational investment fund, UVF provides unrivaled hands-on experience in venture capital and entrepreneurship for students.
Jim has served on many community service boards, including University Venture Fund, Art Works for Kids, Gallaudet University, the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, the Utah Sports Commission and the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Courses: Designing an Innovative Business Model
One of the best connected people within the Venture Capital industry, Jorge Calderon is a career entrepreneur, management consultant, and investment professional. In addition to starting Impact Strategy Advisors, Jorge founded Springworks and architected the Sidecar Option Fund Model utilized within the Promise Capital platform. Previously, he was the founding Director for the West Coast office of a small seed stage venture capital firm and has had roles in top tier management consulting, banking and technology companies.
Jorge lives in San Francisco and is deeply engaged in a variety of other civic organizations. He is a University of Michigan graduate and received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.