New UNH Speaker Series Explores Business as a Force for Good

Monday, April 22, 2019

UNH Media Relations logo

DURHAM, N.H.—The University of New Hampshire’s Center for Social Innovation & Enterprise has announced a new program, the Changemaker Speaker Series, that will host four events each year, all free and open to the public.

The series is designed to engage and inspire students, faculty, staff, and community members by exposing them to new and emerging ideas in business, and to professionals working in business, that are working to align profitable growth and returns for shareholders with positive social and environmental impact. The new series is a partnership with, and supported by, the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project (RGSCP) in the College of Liberal Arts, an initiative that promotes ethics, citizenship, principled leadership, responsible governance and the creation of sustainable institutions.

A recent study by Gallup found less than half of Americans aged 18 to 29 view capitalism positively, a 12-point decline in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68% viewed capitalism as a positive force.

According to a recent study by Deloitte, millennials and Gen Z share concerns about environmental sustainability and the future of society. They want to work for employers that are proactive about making a positive impact in society, and they want to use their own careers to drive tangible change. They also often feel that business leaders are prioritizing the bottom line at the expense of workers, society and the environment.

This new speaker series will paint a very different picture of what is possible within the context of the business sector. It will bring together regional and national business leaders who will discuss models for aligning profit and purpose in their own career journeys, and how their own companies—and many others—are embedding environmental sustainability and social impact at the very heart of their business strategy.

The first event in the series, “Why It’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Changemaker: Careers at the Intersection of Purpose & Profit,” is Thursday, April 30, 12:40-2 p.m., in the Granite State Room in the Memorial Union Building. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and pre-registration is required.

The speakers at this first event represent leaders from regional companies who exemplify the intersection of profit and purpose. Each of the companies represented are certified B Corporations, businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.

  • Jessie Banhazl, CEO & founder, Green City Growers, Boston, a mission-driven company transforming underutilized spaces into biodiverse food production landscapes, providing clients with immediate access to hyper-local food while inspiring self-sufficiency through engagement.
  • Jess Baum, sustainability manager at Badger in Gilsum, a maker of certified organic and all-natural body & skin care products and a business devoted to and built around the principles of kindness, compassion, and environmental stewardship.
  • Ashley Larochelle, director of vision activation at MegaFood in Londonderry, a whole food supplement manufacturer who works with trusted farm partners to create premium products with radical transparency, and who is committed to organic and regenerative agriculture.

The panel will be moderated by Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of the College for Social Innovation, which brings together colleges and social impact organizations to create fully-credited, semester-long experiential learning opportunities that are meaningful, accessible, and life-changing. The mission of the organization is to educate and inspire the next generation of social problem solvers.

Future events in the series will take place September 24 (theme of the role of Business in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals) and November 21 (TBD).

The Center for Social Innovation & Enterprise’s goal is to educate and inspire students and faculty to engage in creating sustainable change. Through our Center’s programs we provide opportunities for hands-on, high-impact, experiential learning to engage students, faculty members and the broader community in social innovation, the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.