Social Impact MBA

Student Profiles

Heller MBA students are a special crowd. We believe that our program attracts people who are uniquely innovative, hardworking, collaborative, warm and dedicated to social change. Our students hail from diverse backgrounds and professional experiences but all of them cultivate the skills and professional relationships here at Heller to graduate and manage for a mission. 

Zari Havercome ’16, MBA/MA SID’22

Zari Havercome ’16, MBA/MA SID’22

AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumnus, Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

“Shirley Chisholm said, ‘Service is the rent you pay to live on earth.' I want to support communities that are disenfranchised, under-resourced, taken advantage of—the people experiencing cyclical poverty and hunger. We have come too far for people to still suffer from things they don’t have to.”

That's why Havercome has dedicated her life to service, from distributing canned goods and school materials in her grandmother’s home country of Guyana as a child, to working for AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps after graduating from college.

Tori Lee, MBA/MS GHPM’22

Tori Lee, MBA/MS GHPM’22

“Heller is one of the few institutions where I saw an equal marriage of hard, corporate skills but also social justice values. I could learn to manage people and practice health equity in the same school.”

“I’m really interested in expanding what health care as a human right looks like in the United States, and for all people,” Lee says, referencing ideas such as Medicare for All. She hopes to help unite different institutions to create policy, “marrying my organizing background with more of the strategic project management that I'm learning here at Heller.”

Charlie Stoever, MBA'22

Charlie Stoever, MBA'22

“I want to empower people, especially LGBTQ folks, people of color, to dive into finance and learn about financial literacy. When COVID caused the stock market to dive, people like me who were financially literate could take advantage of lower-priced stocks, while millions were applying for unemployment.”

Looking for a way to increase their financial knowledge and go beyond one-on-one financial advising, Stoever found Heller, drawn to its Social Impact MBA and Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowships, as well as the opportunity to learn more about social entrepreneurship and socioeconomic disparities.

John Valinch, MPP/MBA'20

John Valinch, MBA/MPP'20

While working at UNITE HERE, a hospitality labor union, Valinch realized that he wanted to influence policies to benefit workers more broadly, particularly in job fields or geographic areas without the capacity to organize, as well as build up his management skills. The Heller School, with its social justice focus and dual MBA and MPP degrees, was a natural fit.  

“I’ve been blessed to not only find influence and insight from my own personal experiences, but also learn to understand and work on the institutional and interconnected roots of those problems, finding strength, love, and resilience in community as we build new futures together,” Valinch says.

Ricki Herrera, MBA/SID’20

Ricki Herrera, MBA/MA SID'20

“As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always been interested in service. My mom always said, ‘You should always do what you can to help other people.’ I have a vivid memory of second grade, when she drove us through Skid Row in downtown L.A. and told us that even if we had it bad, they have it worse. She’d always give away clothes and money."

He decided during his last month as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho to apply to graduate school for nonprofit management, taking advantage of the Coverdell Fellowship program that offers financial aid for RPCVs returning to school. A college professor recommended that he look at Heller, and when he saw the option to do the dual Social Impact MBA and MA in Sustainable International Development, he was sold.

Amir Timorkhani

Amir Timorkhani, MBA/MA SID'20

I want to acquire leadership and management skills while developing a deep understanding of development principles to become an agent of change... Afghanistan is a country that has a long history of discrimination, exclusion and gender inequality, which has led to mass poverty and chronic violence. I am determined to promote social justice in Afghanistan. To achieve peace and economic growth, we should promote social justice and inclusion. The beauty of the country is its diversity, which rarely has been celebrated as an advantage.” 
Max Brodsky, MBA'20

Max Brodsky, MBA'20

AmeriCorps VISTA Alumnus

“I took a service year with AmeriCorps*VISTA and ended up being placed at Brandeis to help oversee programs that work with low-income community centers here in Waltham. Serving with VISTA is something I found to be incredibly important. I was able to fine-tune more of what I hope to be as a leader.” While serving with VISTA, Max Brodsky also took a director role at the Chesterbrook Community Foundation, a Waltham nonprofit engaged in similar work.

“I learned while I was running the nonprofit that there’s so much I don’t know,” he says. “I’d already earned a master’s in education while I was in New York City, but that only teaches me how to convey information, to help children achieve their learning goals and understand educational standards. It doesn’t help me run a balanced budget, or manage operations, or build formal HR structures.”

Joel Pugh, MBA'20

Joel Pugh, MBA'20

AmeriCorps alumnus, Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

“There are so many things about this program that I’m looking forward to. Just this morning I had to tell myself, ‘it’s okay if you don’t do everything.’ I’m looking forward to the Board Fellows program, and I’m really excited about the entrepreneurship competition series. The thing I’m most excited for is being surrounded by people who have similar ideas about wanting to make an impact. I haven’t experienced that before coming here, and it’s really exciting to me.”

Program Director Carole Carlson 

A certain kind of student is attracted to the Heller School, and to the Social Impact MBA program in particular.

Elizabeth Nguyen, MBA/MA SID'20

This Returned Peace Corps Volunteer explains what she loves about the diverse perspectives of her classmates.

Norman Abbott, MBA/MPP'20

Student Norman Abbott explains how his desire to make change at scale inspired him to apply to Heller.