Social Innovator of the Year

Social Innovator of the Year
keynote speakers on stage with large audience

UNH Social Innovator of the Year Award

Honoring individuals since 2013, the UNH Social Innovator of the Year was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner, and father of the microfinance movement, Professor Muhammad Yunus and is among the university’s most prestigious honors; the award recognizes leaders with a demonstrated commitment to combining the purpose of a social and/or environmental mission with the rigor and accountability of a financially sustainable, scalable model for change.

Awardees are celebrated at the conclusion of the annual NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge and are invited to serve as the Challenge keynote speaker, inspiring hundreds from our community each fall.

The Social Innovator of the Year Award is organized by the Changemaker Collaborative, a partnership of UNH’s Sustainability Institute, Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and the Carsey School of Public Policy.


2023 Social Innovator of the Year

Paige Balcom ’16

Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and CTO, Takataka Plastics 
Winner, 2015 UNH Social Venture Innovation Challenge

Paige outside standing in front of piles of plastic, holding a recycled plastic product


Dr. Paige Balcom ’16

Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and CTO, Takataka Plastics 

Paige standing outside smiling

A Londonderry, NH native and winner of UNH's 2015 NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC),  Paige graduated from UNH in 2016 with her bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering. She is now Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and CTO of  Takataka Plastics, a Ugandan social enterprise locally recycling plastic waste and creating jobs for vulnerable youth. Paige holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkeley where she focused on Energy Science and Technology & Development Engineering. She has a deep passion to use engineering and entrepreneurship to create jobs and help improve people’s lives. Paige is also a lecturer at Gulu University in Uganda. 

Paige pitched on Shark Tank and has received several fellowships and awards including those from the National Science Foundation, UC Berkeley, Fulbright Program, USAID, the Institute of International Education, and the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. 

Paige was presented with the Social Innovator of the Year award at the culminating events of the SVIC and delivered a keynote on December 6, 2023 at the virtual presentation of the 2023 SVIC student awards. 

Learn more about Paige

Alex speaking at event


Alex Freid '13

Founder, Post-Landfill Action Network

Alex receiving the 2013 SVIC award

Alex Freid '13 is the Founder of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), a national nonprofit network that has worked with over 900 campuses across the U.S. working towards zero waste. PLAN won first place in the first annual NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC) in 2013. PLAN provides leadership training, and best-practices guidance to achieve zero waste to students and staff, and hosts the annual Students for Zero Waste Conference and Beyond Waste Student Summits.

Alex graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2013, where he started the UNH Trash 2 Treasure program, PLAN's first program model. Alex is a Udall Scholar, a Brower Youth Leader, and was named the New Hampshire Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015. In 2020, Alex stepped down from his role as Co-Executive Director of PLAN, and today, Alex is the Director of PLAN's Atlas Zero Waste program. In 2021 PLAN launched the Atlas Zero Waste Certification - the first zero waste certification program for college campuses.

Watch the keynote address

Tulaine headshot


Tulaine Montgomery

Co-CEO of New Profit, Inc.

Tulaine Montgomery is an entrepreneur, educator, writer and organizer. She has played leadership roles in the launch and expansion of social enterprises across the U.S., the Caribbean, East Africa, Indonesia and South Africa. 

During her time as Co-CEO at New Profit, Tulaine has led initiatives focused on strengthening education-to-employment pathways for underserved youth, driving resources and support to entrepreneurs who have been directly impacted by the American legal system, and building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization and philanthropic sector. Tulaine has also served as the lead architect of New Profit’s Inclusive Impact strategy and Proximate Capital fund, which seeks to bridge the resource gap faced by Black, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, rural and other underinvested social entrepreneurs.

Outside of New Profit, Tulaine is also a trusted advisor to nonprofit organizations and socially responsible companies providing strategic and financial support to many of our nation’s most powerful and promising social innovations including serving as the Board Chair for GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the nation. Tulaine’s other board positions include Beyond 12, YouthBuild, College for Social Innovation, and Jitegemee (a youth-serving organization in Kenya). 

Tulaine’s writing has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Root, Worth Media, and more. She is featured in “Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership,” a visual chronicle and historic narrative of community leaders. In 2020, Tulaine co-authored a research report on equity in philanthropy in partnership with Next Street, Transforming the Social Sector: The Opportunity and Need for Action.

Watch the Keynote Address

Anne Finucane headshot


Anne Finucane '74

Vice Chairman, Bank of America

A 1974 graduate of UNH, Finucane has regularly been named to Forbes’ and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in the World lists, along with American Banker’s 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking. She is responsible for leading Bank of America’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, which promote socially conscious investments.

As a member of Bank of America’s 14-member executive management team, Finucane is responsible for global strategic positioning, and oversees its public policy and capital deployment. Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving approximately 66 million consumer and small business clients. Finucane leads the company’s $1.6 billion Community Development Financial Institution portfolio and chairs the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Harriet Lewis


Harriet Lewis

Chair, Lewis Family Foundation and Co-Founder, Alnoba

Alan Lewis

Chairman, Grand Circle Corporation and CEO/Co-Founder, Alnoba

As entrepreneurs, the Lewis’ are well known for their visionary leadership, building Grand Circle Travel, a small travel company they acquired from the original founders in 1985. Over the last 35 years they have built Grand Circle Corporation into a global enterprise—comprised of a family of travel companies—committed to changing people’s lives by offering high-impact experiences to travelers and building communities (in the US and around the world) through philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, and volunteerism. They embody the model of business that is financially successful, but that also integrates innovative models of corporate community engagement, to change lives for the better. As philanthropists, they have made a significant commitment through the Lewis Family Foundation to support the development of courageous leaders to improve society and the environment, supporting many deserving non-profits with both financial support and leadership development. With the establishment of Alnoba in Kensington, NH, Harriet and Alan are now building an innovative and impressive social enterprise, an extraordinary education and retreat center, model sustainable campus and farm, and gathering place whose mission is dedicated to developing courageous leadership and sustainability models to help change people’s lives, create stronger communities, and save the earth we share. 

Marina Kim


Marina Kim

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ashoka U

Marina Kim’s work in social entrepreneurship dates back over 15 years. She co-founded and leads Ashoka U, which works with colleges and universities to embed social innovation as an educational focus and a strategic approach to aligning the university’s culture, programs and operations. To date, Ashoka U has worked with over 400 institutions globally. Marina’s writing on institutional change and higher education innovation has been featured in,, and the Diversity & Democracy Journal, and Ashoka U has been featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Huffington Post and The New York Times. Marina was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship, received the post-graduate Tom Ford Fellowship in Philanthropy from Stanford, and is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Northampton. Marina holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University. 

Clara Miller


Clara Miller '72

President F.B. Heron Foundation

New Hampshire native Clara Miller ’72 is president of the F.B. Heron Foundation, which helps people and communities help themselves out of poverty. A graduate of UNH’s College of Liberal Arts with a degree in studio art, Miller has dedicated her career to helping address economic inequity in America by supporting in innovative ways the many nonprofits that are dedicated to addressing poverty.  

She is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential people in the social change field, and has received many awards including being named investor of the year by Institutional Investor Magazine in the “small foundations” category in 2015. Miller joined the Heron Foundation in 2011. Just a few years after the financial collapse and major recession, Miller concluded that America was still many decades away from addressing poverty, but in many cases, the recession had made the situation worse for Americans in poverty tangibly worse. She led a major restructuring that broadened the foundation’s impact as a major influencer in the economy. Under her leadership, Heron pioneered the idea of breaking down the traditional divisions in philanthropic foundations between program officers (who oversee grant making) and investment officers (who oversee investment portfolios). Heron recently completed an ambitious goal of going “all in to move the entire $270 million endowment into impact investments that fit with the organization’s mission of ‘helping people and communities help themselves out of poverty.’”

The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund partnered with UNH’s Changemaker Collaborative to provide support for the 2017 Social Innovator of the Year program. Established in 1983, it was one of the first Community Development Financial Institutions in the U.S. The fund turns investments into loans and education to create opportunity and transform lives statewide.

Joe Keefe


Joe Keefe

President and Chief Executive Officer of Pax World Management LLC

In addition to his leadership of Pax World, Keefe is co-chair of the Leadership Group for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and the former chair of the board of Women Thrive Worldwide, a leading non-profit organization shaping U.S. international assistance and trade policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty.  Mr. Keefe was named by the Financial Times in 2015 as one of the top 10 Feminist Men in the World, by Ethisphere magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics, and in 2014 he was honored at the United Nations as one of five recipients of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Award.

Under Mr. Keefe’s leadership, Pax World Management has become one of the leading sustainable investment firms, integrating Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) factors (including a gender lens) into the investment analysis and portfolio construction of all its funds based on the strong belief that companies with diverse leadership teams and better ESG performance can deliver lower risk and greater return. In 2014, Pax World Management launched Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund,  the first broad-market index of the highest-rated companies in the world in advancing women's leadership through gender diversity on their boards and senior leadership, now with over $100 million in assets. The Fund outperformed its benchmark, the MSCI World Index, for the two-year period ending June 30, 2016.

We are extremely grateful to the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation for their partnership as well as our campus partners for their promotion of the 2016 Social Venture Innovation Challenge Keynote Dialogue.

Gary Hirshberg


Gary Hirshberg

Founder and Chairman of Stonyfield Farm

Gary Hirshberg is Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and Managing Director of Stonyfield Europe, with organic brands in Ireland and France. Gary serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards including Applegate, Peak Organic Brewing, Late July, Quantum Design, Glenisk, the Danone Communities Fund and the Danone Livelihoods Fund. In 2011, President Obama appointed Gary to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. He is Chairman and a founding Partner of “Just Label It!,” the national campaign to label genetically engineered foods, and is co-author of Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods. He is the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Gary has received twelve honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership including a 2015 Champion for Children Award from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Children’s Environmental Health Center and a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by the US EPA.

Eric Schwarz


Eric Schwarz

Founder of College for Social Innovation

UNH is proud to be working with Eric Schwarz, the University of New Hampshire's 2014 Social Innovator of the Year, as a founding partner with the College for Social Innovation, Eric’s new social enterprise to prepare college students for high-impact careers in social entrepreneurship and public service. Learn more about the Semester in the City Program.


Eric Schwarz is the co-founder of Citizen Schools, a leading national force in educational innovation, and the author of the recently published book, The Opportunity Equation.  Schwarz founded Citizen Schools in Boston in 1995 to support a vision of offering students in low-income communities a longer learning day, including hands-on “apprenticeships” led by volunteer “Citizen Teachers” from local businesses and universities.  Now in seven states, Citizen Schools partners with public middle schools to expand the learning day for children through academic mentoring and skill-building apprenticeships. Over half of the skill-building apprenticeships are focused on STEM subjects and activities. Learn more about Citizen Schools and US2020, a national mentoring initiative whose goal is to match 1 million STEM mentors with students by the year 2020.

Paul Bradley


Paul Bradley

President ROC USA

Imagine if you owned your house, but not the land beneath it. Imagine if the landowner decided to sell that land, forcing you to move, or kept raising your monthly payments. This is the situation faced by thousands of owners of manufactured housing in New Hampshire and across the country. Enter ROC USA, the nonprofit Paul Bradley founded in 2008 to take a successful program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund to national scale. ROC USA helps homeowners gain economic security through resident ownership of their "mobile home park" or manufactured home community. Learn more about ROC USA.

The Changemaker Collaborative is honored to recognize Paul Bradley for his role in helping grow a social business that has helped thousands of people lead more secure lives by giving them a secure place to live. Bradley’s work exemplifies the center’s commitment to financially sustainable and scalable solutions to pressing community challenges.

Learn More about Bradley's Work with the UNH:

  • A 2006 report by the Carsey Institute found that residents who own their manufactured housing communities have significant financial and social advantages over their counterparts in communities owned by private owners
  • The center’s “Scale Project” helped ROC USA build its national operating platform through a grant from the Ford Foundation.
  • ROC USA hosted Social Innovation Interns (now called the Sustainability Fellowship program) in 2012 and 2013.
  • Bradley is a regular speaker at UNH classes and Net Impact UNH events.


Muhammed Yunus posing with students

Muhammad Yunus

Nobel Laureate and pioneer of the microfinance industry

The NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge was founded by the University of New Hampshire in 2013 in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner, and father of the microfinance movement, Professor Muhammad Yunus, who was also the inaugural keynote speaker, attracting over 700 people, and the inspiration for the UNH Social Innovator of the Year Award. It has become an annual signature event which powerfully demonstrates the keen interest of students and community entrepreneurs and activists in helping address some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, and their creativity in designing novel, sustainable, business-orientated solutions.

Watch the keynote address