Skip to:

Program on Social Entrepreneurship

Integrating the experience of social entrepreneurs with academic research and teaching at Stanford University.


Program History   |  Leadership   |  The Fellowship   |   Our Social Entrepreneurs   |  Projects  |   Nomination and Selection Process  |   Advisory   |  News   |   Contact Us   |

The Program on Social Entrepreneurship is a joint program of Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and the Haas Center for Public Service. The program’s administrative functions are housed at the Haas Center and CDDRL helps to inform fellowship selection, and the program’s design and delivery. 

Program History:

In 2011, the Program on Social Entrepreneurship (PSE) was launched at CDDRL to provide social entrepreneurs - creative and innovative leaders, human rights defenders, and changemakers in their fields - the opportunity to spend an academic quarter in residency at Stanford University. The program also responded to the growing student interest on campus to engage with practitioners inside the classroom and with the field of social entrepreneurship more broadly.

The social entrepreneur fellows (SEERS Fellows) lead institutions that advance social, economic, and political change. SEERS Fellows hail from both the developed and developing world and are nominated through the program's Advisory Committee - a group of of 11 members from the Stanford and social entrepreneurship community - and a trusted network of organizations.

Building a tangible bridge between academia and practice, the program exposes students to new models of social change through a service-learning course and provides practitioners the opportunity to strengthen their individual and personal capacities as social-change leaders.

In September 2014, CDDRL partnered with the Haas Center for Public Service to move its core administrative functions to a more student-facing institution on campus that values engagement with the practitioner community. The program also fits in very nicely with the Haas Center’s public service pathways in social entrepreneurship and community-engaged learning. 


The program is led by Faculty Director Deborah L. Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession at the Stanford Law School. Rhode's prominent voice as a researcher and academic successfully led the effort to create Stanford’s Center on Ethics. Rhode is also an affiliated faculty member at CDDRL and has been involved in the program from its inception serving as a faculty primary investigator.

The program is managed by Sarina A. Beges, a co-founder of the Program, who serves as CDDRL's associate director working to support the center's growing practitioner-based programming, which includes the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program. Beges comes to CDDRL from the Synergos Institute in New York where she identified and supported a network of social entrepreneurs across the Arab world. 

The program also benefits from the teaching expertise of Lecturer Kathleen Kelly Janus, who leads the service-learning course for the program (IR 142). Janus is an attorney who has spearheaded numerous social justice initiatives in the Bay Area.

The Fellowship:

SEERS Fellows spend the academic quarter - 10 weeks - in residence at Stanford to reflect on their own work, pursue research projects, broaden their professional networks, and co-teach a course on social entrepreneurship. The course - Social Entrepreneurship and the Advancement of Democracy, Development and Justice (IR 142) - is the foundation of the program and is offered to undergraduates and select graduate students in the form of a service-learning class where students work together with social entrepreneurs on specific projects to advance the fellows' organizational capacity.

Some examples of SEERS Fellows projects include: working to help refugees realize their rights in Latin America; improving literacy for children in underprivileged communities in the U.S.; and training women to use sustainable water technologies in Africa.

SEERS Fellows use the remaining time on campus to advance their own professional objectives, to contemplate their next steps as social change leaders, and to connect to the broader Bay Area philanthropic community. SEERS Fellows leave the fellowship with tangible projects to support their professional work, and students gain the practical experience of working on projects for a non-profit organization. Many of the SEERS Fellows who are based locally in the San Francisco Bay Area continue their affiliation with Stanford after the fellowship period to deepen their engagement with Stanford faculty, student groups, and the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus. 

In 2013, the program introduced an undergraduate student fellowship supported by the Haas Center for Public Service. The fellowship allows Stanford students who participated in the service-learning course to apply their classroom learning by working directly with a global or local SEERS Fellow over the summer. SEERS Fellows have also collaborated with other units on campus to provide summer fellowship placements for exceptional Stanford undergraduates.

In 2016, the program introduced four new summer fellowship opportunities to provide students the opportunity to work directly with SEERS fellows over the summer, allowing them to put their service-learning projects into practice in service with the SEERS Fellow' organization. For more information on our 2016 fellowships, please click here


Our Social Entrepreneurs:                         

The program welcomed its first group of SEERS Fellows to Stanford in April 2012. Each class is composed of three to four talented social entrepreneurs working globally or locally to advance social change. Over the past three years, the Program has welcomed 15 fellows into the Program. 

Spring 2016
  • Tomás Alvarez is a pioneer of "Hip Hop Therapy,” a modern form of therapy that  radically transforms how mental health and wellness are promoted in marginalized communities.
  • Rajasvini (Vini) Bhansali is the executive director of the International Development Exchange (IDEX), which supports grassroots leaders in the Global South to create lasting and transformative change.
  • Jered Lawson is the co-founder of Pie Ranch, a sustainable farm that cultivates a healthy and just food system from seed to table through food education, farmer training, and regional partnerships.
  •  Josefina Alvarado Mena  is the executive director of Safe Passages, an organization that advocates for vulnerable children, youth, and their families in Oakland and Alameda County. 

Winter 2015

  • Katie Albright is the executive director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, a community-based organization that works to support healthy families and promote children’s well being in the Bay Area.       
  • Kennedy Jawoko is a career journalist working to harness the power of new technology to create an online portal for East African journalists reporting on agriculture and food security journalism in the region.
  • Lateefah Simon is an activist for at-risk youth and young women in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the director of the California Future’s Program at the Rosenberg Foundation and previously served as the executive director of the Center for Young Women's Development in San Francisco.
  • Rob Gitin is the co-founder and executive director of At The Crossroads, a San Francisco-based organization working with underserved homeless youth and young adults to help them build healthy and fulfilling lives. 

Winter 2014 

  • Natalie Bridgeman Fields leads the Accountability Counsel, which defends vulnerable communities across the developing world from abusive practices committed by international institutions.
  • Michael Lombardo is the CEO of Reading Partners, a not-for-profit organization that provides literacy programs for elementary schools in low-income communities across the United States.
  • Lateefah Simon is an activist for at-risk youth and young women in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the director of the California Future’s Program at the Rosenberg Foundation.

Spring 2013

  • Gemma Bulos is a multi award-winning social entrepreneur and director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative, an organization building a cadre of women trainers in East Africa versed in a holistic set of water, sanitation, and hygiene strategies.
  • Simeon Koroma is the co-founder and director of Timap for Justice, a pioneering non-governmental organization in Sierra Leone, that provides free justice services through community-based paralegals employing mediation, advocacy, education, and organizing.
  • Maxwell Matewere is the executive director of Eye of the Child in Malawi, an organization which engages in child rights advocacy, training and strategic litigation to protect and promote child rights in Malawi.

Fall 2012

  • Zainah Anwar is one of the founding members of Sisters in Islam, an NGO that works on women's rights in Islam based in Malaysia. She also founded Musawah, a global movement of equality and justice within the Muslim family.
  • Emily Arnold-Fernandez founded Asylum Access, an international organization dedicated to securing refugees' rights by integrating individualized legal assistance, community legal empowerment, policy advocacy and strategic litigation.
  • Mazibuko Jara is the founder of the Ntinga Ntaba ka Ndoda organization that supports rural development in the eastern cape of South Africa. Jara is also active in advocating for the rights of women under traditional law, and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Spring 2012 

  • Taida Horozovic founded CURE, an organization committed to ending gender violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina through educational awareness, media tools, and global campaigns.
  • Ramzi Jaber launched Visualizing Palestine, an initiative that uses visual stories and graphics to build international awareness around past and present injustices in Palestine.
  • Steve Williams co-founded the San Francisco-based organization POWER, which works to defend the rights of low income workers, immigrant women, and advocates for housing justice in some of San Francisco's poorer communities.



Project #1. San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center – Resource Assessment of Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Programming (with Katie Albright):

Project #2. At the Crossroads – Develop an “I think you can” Fundraising Event (with Rob Gitin):

Project #3. At The Crossroads – Leadership Development (with Rob Gitin):

Project #4. Center for Young Women’s Development Strategic Planning Project (with Lateefah Simon):

Project #5. Food Security Storyboard Needs Assessment Project (with Kennedy Jawoko):

Project #6. Food Security Storyboard Background Research Project (with Kennedy Jawoko):


Project #1. Global Women’s Water Initiative Case Study (with Gemma Bulos):

Project #2. Global Women’s Water Initiative Impact Field Data Analysis (with Gemma Bulos):

Project #3. Global Women’s Water Initiative Crowdfunding Campaign (with Gemma Bulos):

 Project #4. Accountability Counsel Case Study (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):

 Project #5. Accountability Counsel Documentary Film (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):

Project #6. Accountability Counsel Alternative Revenue Project (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):

Project #7. Reading Partners Research on After-School Programs (with Michael Lombardo):


Nomination and Selection Process

At present there is no open application process to the program. The program's Advisory Committee and partner organizations help identify and invite dynamic practitioners to participate in the entrepreneur-in-residence program. Nominations are reviewed by the program team and perspective social entrepreneurs will be invited to submit a formal application and supporting materials. 



Program on Social Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee


Sept. 2015: Teaching Values and Purpose for Social Change

Sept. 2014: Program on Social Entrepreneurship finds new home at the Haas Center

Dec. 2013: Award-winning social entrepreneurs to join Stanford this winter

Apr: 2013: Head of Stanford Technology Ventures Program joins faculty advisory council

Mar. 2013: Tackling development challenges in Africa, three social entrepreneurs join Stanford community

Sept. 2012: Using law to promote social change, three social entrepreneurs join CDDRL community this fall

July: 2012: Kavita Ramdas appointed as Ford Foundation representative in New Delhi

Mar. 2012: Four social entrepreneurs to join Stanford research community this spring

Sept. 2011: Kavita Ramdas joins CDDRL's new program on social entrepreneurship


Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more about the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, please contact Sarina Beges at

For more information on the program and resources for social entrepreneurship at Stanford please join our listsev

Share this Page