Ali believes deeply in the creation of unique learning journeys, especially as they connect to the transformational role that institutions can play as leaders in emergent changemaking. Ali brings experience in community building, higher education, and transformative leadership to the Ashoka U team. Previously, Ali was based in Boston working with the Learning by Giving Foundation and Northeastern University (her alma mater) to accelerate national student grantmaking opportunities in higher ed and to launch the first-ever MOOC for effective charitable giving. In her hometown of the Hudson Valley, Ali co-founded the Ascienzo Family Foundation and serves as a director of foundation initiatives. She especially gravitates to education-based innovation, having worked for social enterprises like DonorsChoose.org and Room to Read. Living in service to others is Ali’s lifelong commitment — she is always eager to collaborate in ways that support the work and missions of fellow changemakers.
Jessica’s focus is on increasing Ashoka U’s breadth of impact. She leads Ashoka U’s thought leadership and digital strategy, refining Ashoka U’s messages to reach new audiences. Based in Ottawa, and as a past member of the Ashoka Canada team, Jess also brings a global lens to Ashoka U’s work. Through partnerships with higher education networks, she is building an increasingly global, and more representative campus network. An accomplished social entrepreneur, Jess has been working on spreading ideas in the social impact education space for more than 15 years. Her early experience was as a co-founder of an award-winning environmental organization that scaled across Canada, and the UK. She went on to launch an online school for changemakers, and develop a city-wide collaborative to support social enterprises. Jessica was awarded a Skoll Scholarship for her work and holds an MBA from Saîd Business School at Oxford University.
Interim Ashoka U Canada Director, Danica Straith has an ambitious goal: to make changemaking education the new normal in Canada. She is one among many in a national network of change leaders putting social innovation at the forefront of higher education. While seeking out and engaging prospective Changemaker Campuses, she continues to grow support among students and administrators alike.
Danica was a changemaking student herself, co-founding a social enterprise between completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at McGill. She has also worked in Germany and East Africa as a researcher and consultant for social enterprises. Living and breathing the idea of “Everyone a Changemaker,” Danica is a firm believer in education as the driver of positive social change.