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New Joint Executive Education Offering in Partnership with SMU

New Joint Executive Education Offering in Partnership with SMU

New Social Entrepreneurship Certificate for Social Sector Leaders Debuted

More than sixty social sector leaders from across the metroplex gathered last month in the Collins Executive Education Center at the SMU Cox School of Business for the first of a new eleven-session certificate program to become social entrepreneurs. At the end of the seven-month program, they will be better equipped to tackle our community’s most challenging social issues. The Social Entrepreneurship Certificate for Social Sector Leaders is an exciting new partnership between SMU Cox and Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT).

Social entrepreneurship applies the principles and guidance often used by start-ups and entrepreneurs to a business or nonprofit that directly generates social change or addresses a social issue. Social entrepreneurship has risen in popularity on college campuses over the years and is being taught across many disciplines as a strategic mindset for tackling social issues. This new course is structured like an MBA course and is specifically designed for working professionals to learn key components of social innovation, social impact, and social enterprise. CFT is underwriting program costs which allows the 60+ selected participants to receive an Executive Education certificate from SMU Cox valued at $2,300 each, at no cost to them beyond their time investment.

Ashley McIver, Senior Philanthropy Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas, shared why CFT made the investment: “We believe this course will help transform how the participating leaders conduct business. We hope that this will create a cross-sector network of leaders who think creatively about solving our community’s challenges, asking more questions that help develop human-centered solutions that have both financial and social impact for generations to come.”

Shane Goodwin, associate dean of graduate programs and executive education at SMU Cox agreed, noting, “Social entrepreneurship is a force for good. It marries mission and money for the benefit of stakeholders. It is both an art and a science, applying the best business principles with conscious capitalism and a large dose of altruism.”

Faculty Director, Suzanne Smith, MBA, is a social entrepreneur and adjunct professor at SMU Cox School of Business. She has taught social entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Arlington, University of North Texas and Pepperdine University for the past 10 years. A native Texan, she studied under one of the founders of social entrepreneurship, J. Gregory Dees, at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where she was the CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) Scholar. As a serial social entrepreneur, Smith has been recognized for her outstanding contributions to the field, receiving the Social Enterprise Alliance’s Next Generation Social Entrepreneurs Award and the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Young Athena Leadership Award.

“This is a first-of-its-kind university certificate program ‘for social entrepreneurs, by social entrepreneurs,’” said Smith, who is also the founder and CEO of Social Impact Architects. “It brings together outstanding faculty with both academic and practical experience to teach dynamic sessions for leading changemakers in North Texas. The energy in the room is electric, and we cannot wait to see the social impact it sparks for the community.”

The inaugural certificate program garnered extensive interest, receiving more than 300 applications, making the selection process highly competitive.

One program participant, Eric Czechowski, Creative Director at First United Methodist Church of Richardson, shared why he was interested in the program: “This is the first opportunity I’ve known about that explores intersections between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, honors and celebrates both for the role they play in society, and analyzes what each can learn from the other. As a long-time employee in the nonprofit world, I’ve always been interested in how we might utilize corporate wisdom in the hopes of exponentially greater impact in the community and beyond, so this is a dream to be a part of.”

Another nonprofit leader participant, Ashley Williams, executive director at Engage Dallas, spoke about her experience so far. “I have already enjoyed learning more about the role of entrepreneurial culture and insights into systems thinking and systems change,” Williams said. “Things are evolving, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

More information about the program can be found here on the SMU Cox website.


The following individuals, representing a cross-section of organizations, are participating in this first-ever 2023-24 program:

Name Organization
Tiffany Washington Abide Women’s Health Services
Kristi Avalos Accessology Too, LLC
Chynna Goree Act
Ara Griamldo After8toEducate
Jian Xie Asian Culture and Education Society USA
Monica Ordonez Bachman Lake Together
Catherine Lovett Capital One
Teressa Jimenez CASA of Collin County
Devon Briggs Children’s Health
Kimberly Richards City of Dallas
Chelsea Jeffery The Commit Partnership
Ben Travis Community Frontline
Mahoganie Gaston Dallas Independent School District
Jennifer Kapinos Denton Music and Arts Collaborative
Dante Williams DIG Contracting
Ashley Williams Engage Dallas
Albert Vazquez Jr. Equal Heart
Lexi Peterson Excellence in Giving
LaVeeta Hamilton Family Promise of Collin County
Kimberly Skidmore Fannin County Children’s Center
Eric Czechowski First United Methodist Church Richardson
Samantha Moya For Love & Art
India Stewart Founders and Funders of Color
Tristen Wilson Frost Bank
Isabella Chamberlain Good Local Markets
Britney Barker Grayson County Children’s Advocacy Center
Gilberto Atayde Greater North Texas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Lora Atkinson Habitat for Humanity of Denton County
Melanie Hawkins Hawkins’ Heart
Dania Carter Heart of Courage
Leticia Gallegos Hispanic Real Estate Brokers Association (HREBA)
Barbara Johnson Hope Supply Co.
Lauren DeVries J.P. Morgan
Jay Taylor Juxta Developments LLC
Ferrell Fellows Kingdom Legacy Company
Tamara Harrington Leadership ISD
Jessica Dunn Leukemia Texas
Lisa Fellers Lighthouse for the Blind
Juleon Lewis Live Pura Vida
R. Mateo Magdaleno Magdaleno Leadership Institute
Yvette Medina Mark Cuban Foundation
Edna Henderson Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Mandy Noerper Smith My Possibilities
Sabrina Conner North Texas Behavioral Health Authority
Gene Tremblay Oakwood Bank
Brett Moran Parkland Health
Sarah Hughes Parks for Downtown Dallas
Toby Savitz Pathfinders
Matt Haas PGA of America
Chelsea Robertson POETIC
Adan Gonzalez Puede Network
Lindsay Zehentbauer SafeHaven of Tarrant County
Minerva Bediako Samaritan Inn
Jacob Taylor Sharing Life Community Outreach
Laura Hoagland Southwest Airlines
Natalynne Walton State Fair of Texas
Brenda Snitzer The Stewpot, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas
Nick Marino Tango Charities
Heather Zrubek Texas 2036
Shelby Bobosky Texas Humane Legislation Network
Samra Ali Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation
Alyssa Studer University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs, RGK Center for Philanthropy & Community
Caazena Hunter Young Leaders Strong City


About SMU Cox 

In 2020, the Cox School of Business celebrated more than 100 years of business education at SMU. The Cox School is committed to influencing the way the world conducts business via prolific research that provokes innovation, change and global thought leadership. SMU Cox offers a full range of business education programs including BBA, Full-Time MBA, Professional MBA (part-time), Executive MBA, Cox MBA Direct, Online MBA and Master of Science degree programs, as well as Executive Education. Consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools, SMU Cox maintains an active alumni network globally. SMU Cox is accredited by AACSB.

About Communities Foundation of Texas

The mission of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) is to improve the lives of all people in our community by investing in their health, wealth, living, and learning. CFT works to accomplish this by growing community giving, expanding community impact, and advancing community equity. With a vision of building thriving communities for all, CFT works locally and across the state with many individuals, families, companies, foundations, and nonprofits through a variety of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking initiatives. CFT professionally manages more than 1,200 charitable funds and has awarded more than $2.5 billion in grants since its founding in 1953.

CFT is committed to serving and understanding donor needs, expertly handling complex gifts, wisely managing charitable funds, and leveraging its community knowledge to increase charitable impact, in addition to powering several initiatives including the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Fund at CFT, CFT for Business, Educate Texas at CFT, Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy at CFT, GiveWisely, and CFT’s North Texas Giving Day. CFT’s North Texas Giving Day raised $64 million on a single day in 2023 to help over 3,250 North Texas nonprofits. Learn more at www.CFTexas.org.

Lexi McCarthy
Lexi McCarthy
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator

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