April 17, 2014

Changemaker of the Week: Phoebe Stein '14.5

posted by Swearer Center

Phoebe Stein '14.5 is a co-chair of SEEED at Brown, the student group behind the annual SEEED Summit (April 25-26), planned in collaboration with Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Worldways Social Marketing, and the Social Innovation Initiative

Q: What is your current involvement with social innovation?
A: I work with a bunch of wicked cool students in a group called SEEED at Brown. Partnered with Social Enterprise Greenhouse (a Providence-based social venture incubator), Worldways (a professional marketing firm), and the Social Innovation Initiative, we help to organize an annual conference that convenes social entrepreneurs, policymakers, academics, impact investors, and anyone else interested and engaged in social enterprise. The idea is that in order for us to strengthen the social enterprise "ecosystem," we're going to need all stakeholders at the table!

How did I first get involved? I actually didn't know about social innovation and entrepreneurship until I came to Brown. One day I was talking to a friend about the fairly paternalistic development organizations I had worked for in the past. She recommended that I check out the SEEED Summit and the student group that helps to organize the event. I initially thought I was just going to move chairs on the day-of, but I quickly realized that SEEED at Brown enthusiasts are the types of people I wanted to surround myself with. 

Q: What is the most important lesson you've learned since starting your work with SEEED at Brown?
A: One thing I've learned is that the most innovative social ventures are born organically, and the most contrived often struggle with sustainability.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a "changemaker"? A: I'd say to start thinking about how you want to effect change rather than how you can become a changemaker. I'd also add that change is borne of partnerships, so it's important to understand how your ideas and resources can be used to effectively collaborate with others.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?
A: Oh my, you know I've never thought about it? Right now I'd say that I strive to be a partner above all else – working with rather than working for those who wish to be helped, and never presuming to know the answers to another's problems.

Q: What's one surprising fact people might not know about you?
A: I once thought it would be a fantastic idea to raise half a dozen chickens in my tiny bedroom. Won't be doing that again!

If you know a Brown student or alum who is making a difference on campus, in Providence, or around the world, nominate them here to see them featured as Changemaker of the Week.

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