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Boston College School of Social Work
Center for Social Innovation


A Day to Innovate: 4th Annual Social Innovation Day

SSW Students participate in SI Day

APRIL 10, 2015

During our Fourth Annual Social Innovation Day, students from the School of Social Work once again assumed the challenge of engineering new solutions to complex issues. To prepare, students came equipped with a substantial amount of research and understanding of social issues, which included human trafficking, food justice, and sexual assault. What resulted from the day is nothing short of solutions with potential for high impact and innovation.

The full day event was launched with an idea fair, in which students presented their research findings on a particular social issue and contributed initial questions, considerations, and solutions. Building on this momentum, teams then went on to ideate a range of solutions to their issue, utilizing various parameters and considerations for success to select their most promising solution.

Upon developing their initial prototype, student teams benefited from the support of two mentors to support the crafting of their ideas and the enhancement of their presentations.

Boston College staff and faculty members providing mentorship for the teams included:

  • Stephanie Berzin, CSI Co-Director
  • Andrea Cohen, Professor of Social Innovation
  • Tiziana Dearing, CSI Co-Director
  • Lisa B. Eisenbud, Professor of Social Innovation
  • Lisa Rowan Gillis, Executive Director of Advancement Marketing & Communications

In addition, students also counted on guidance from four esteemed guest judges, who offered their experience and feedback for the teams:

  • Heather Coughlin

Heather is a senior executive with a 20-year track record of operational and financial leadership across industries including healthcare services, financial services, education and technology. Heather is a collaborative, high-energy health care leader/entrepreneur who excels at communicating with diverse stakeholders and influencing others to act. She has successfully built alliances while instilling trust across all levels of organizations. Heather is an architect of strong corporate cultures with a proven track record of enabling teams to cooperate for common purposes. Most recently, Heather was the CEO of Isis Parenting, an innovative education and retail enterprise for new parents. Heather also held a VP role at Goldman Sachs for almost 10 years and held a senior management position at The Advisory Board Company. Heather sits on the Board of Directors at the March of Dimes and is a Volunteer at Lincoln Public Schools. Heather graduated from Vanderbilt University and received her MBA from the Yale School of Management.

  • Jeb Gutelius

Jeb has spent 15 years transforming ideas into organizations, foundations and progressive companies most often with musicians. He is currently working with two-time Grammy Award winning band FUN and fashion designer Rachel Antonoff to build an organization to support LGBTQ equality. He is also serving as an Advisor to Komera, a girls leadership program in Rwanda, and is a Steering Committee Member for the National Center on Family Homelessness, working on their project to end Veteran’s Homelessness through music and fan engagement. In his prior roles, Jeb launched an enterprise with the band Calling All Crows to engage musicians and fans in global philanthropy that raised nearly 1 million dollars and established a grassroots foundation to improve lives in Zimbabwe.  An entrepreneur by nature, Jeb launched his first company not long after college with his likeminded brother and enjoyed 11 years of success as the COO of a successful merchandising and apparel company in Nantucket and Manchester, NH. Jeb is a former instructor at Citizens Schools and a former lecturer at Shenzhen University. 

  • Sandra Metraux  

Sandra is a business leader who has a passion for defining and delivering innovative growth strategies for major corporations and not-for-profit organizations. In the for-profit sector, Sandra has held executive leadership positions in North America with Fidelity Investments in the US and Investors Group (a Power Financial Company) in Canada. Her marketing expertise is in strategy, branding, product design, promotion, distribution and corporate communications. Sandra is a former Adjunct Faculty at Babson College, where she taught Marketing Management and b2b Marketing courses to undergraduates. She also serves as an Advisor for graduate students in Babson College's Corporate Consulting Program. Sandra has served on the board for several not-for-profit organizations in the US and Canada. In addition to the board of CWE, while in Canada, Sandra was a member of the board and led the marketing and fundraising committees for CancerCare Manitoba and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Sandra graduated from the University of Rochester and received her MBA from the University of Michigan.

  • Coleman Nee

Coleman is a public relations consultant and political figure who served as the Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans' Services from 2011 to 2015. As the Undersecretary of Veterans’ Services in 2008, he oversaw the creation of the Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment (SAVE) program, which supports veterans and their families coping with the stresses of returning from war and assist them in obtaining veteran's benefits and services. He also helped obtain over $1 million in federal funds to train and find employment for veterans. Additionally, he led outreach efforts to homeless, women, and disabled veterans. Coleman has worked in public policy, advocacy and corporate communications for over 20 years and previously served as a Corporal in the US Marine Corp Reserve during Desert Storm. Currently Coleman is a leading Strategic Consultant, specializing in designing and implementing veterans and military family programming


The day culminated with presentations from the 9 teams—representing 9 distinct, forward-thinking solutions. “The work the teams have undertaken today show how much we can contribute to seemingly insurmountable issues with a little bit of support and a lot of dedication,” said Professor of Social Innovation, Andrea Cohen.

After much deliberation from the judges, the Urban Mechanics team took home first place award for ConnectiviT: a touchscreen information platform, which seeks to address issues with Boston’s public transit by providing commuters with alternate travel routes, real-time updates, and the ability to communicate safety concerns.

Though the winning idea was certainly creative and on-target, the ideas contributed by other teams were also outstanding. We’d like to congratulate all of the SI teams on their hard work and ambitious innovations!




Food Justice

 Kathryn Doyle, Colleen Ferrans, Catherine McDonough,  Danielle Joseph, Mariama Saffa

Human Trafficking

 Dana Loatman, Kelly Morgan, Meredith Traquina, Cipriana Galvao,  Corissa Warzybok

Child/Youth Opportunity Gap

 Alyssa Lowell, Yihua Jia, Mozdeh Fallahazad, Brittany Atkinson, Lingling Shao

City Life/Urban Mechanics

 Julia MacMahon, Stephanie Brueck, Ruth Nkemontoh, Aislinn Betancourt, Lauryn McNair

Food Justice


Matt Pecoraro, Vivian Pham, Prakrity Silwal, Megan Toohey, Jeremy Vargas

Human Trafficking


Celia Arias, Griffin Flannery, Alissa Marchant, Ashlen Nimmo, Lauren Obermueller

LGBTQ Civil Rights


Effie Ingram, Danielle Ferriola, Maham Kirmani, Caterina Rodriguez, Cam Goldstein

US Prison System Racial Inequality


Jennifer Colvin, Alexandra Rabasco, Hong Yang, Caitlin O'Connell, Emily Scichilone

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Lynne Marie Wanamaker, Brian Walker, Katherine Fukumoto, Sara Freedman