Alumni Spotlight – Doug Galen, MBA 88

DougGalen hdshot Galen, BS 84, MBA 88
Co-Founder & CEO of Ripple Works:
Lecturer at Berkeley-Haas and Stanford GSB

Doug Galen is passionate about building and scaling great companies that disrupt industries and drive innovation. He has had extensive experience in building and scaling startups and currently lectures at Berkeley-Haas and Stanford University. “I’ve learned how to make brutally hard decisions when you don’t have enough resources, and I’ve come to know what it’s like when a product is great vs. mediocre,” said Doug.

He is the founder and CEO of RippleWorks, where he now gets to play a role in helping companies scale as they do everything from solar panels in rural Tanzanian villages to micro-insurance for the poor across Africa and Asia.

The initial question at the core of RippleWorks was “How can we best help millions of people?”  It’s an overly ambitious, daunting quest.  But there already exist great social entrepreneurs well on their way to helping millions get out of poverty. The question then became, “How can we help?”  RippleWorks pairs promising social entrepreneurs around the world with tech and startup experts from Silicon Valley to jointly conquer specific scaling challenges of the social venture.

Impact through RippleWorks

RippleWorks is wrapping up its first cohort of companies that it has helped scale.   They have taken on projects ranging from cloud infrastructure to scaling call centers. The program pairs volunteer experts, who give 1-5 hours per week of their time, with social ventures for a 3-4 month project. Culminating the project, RippleWorks flies the experts to spend a week with their social venture for an immersive work session.

RippleWorks: Mike and Aldi

Mike and Aldi in Indonesia

“We get to bring the best-of-the-best people together to collaborate, which is always special,” Doug said. “We recently had an expert, Mike, go and visit Aldi, his project partner in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Mike felt pure joy because he maximized his volunteer time by providing priceless technology and architecture advice. His input will accelerate Aldi’s growth to help more shop keepers in rural Indonensia.”   Mike also visited Aldi’s home and connected with his son, teaching him how to sing the itsy-bitsy-spider.  Now, Aldi sings the song per his son’s nightly request.

“It wasn’t just about the project,” Doug said. “We get to see personal encounters like Mike and Aldi, the where two people bring the best out of each other, and really see what can happen when you connect two worlds together.”

Advice for current Berkeley-Haas students:

Doug reminds students to appreciate the true melting pot that is Berkeley.  “Haas exposed me to business people from around the world, and Berkeley exposed me to the most diverse group of people.” It offers an opportunity to experience the vast world outside of Silicon Valley.  Also, Doug advises to take advantage of everything Haas offers, particularly beyond curriculum.

  • Attend every event you can – you have the chance to attend more powerful events in your two years at Haas than you can for the rest of your life.
  • Make sure to take the time to understand your passions and values, and use that to discover what opportunities are out there and what goals you want to set for yourself.
  • Appreciate your classmates – you will learn as much from your experiences with them as you will from instructors, homework, or assignments.
  • And have fun along the way. Play intramural sports. Kick some butt at Challenge for Charity, and, if nothing else, beat Stanford.




Zach Friedman, Director of Vaccination and Immunization at LIGTT

Photo_ZachFriedmanWhen Zach Friedman was hired on as Director of Vaccination and Immunization at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies, his first project was not a small one. He immediately jumped in to developing the “50 Breakthroughs” report. As he described, it the report was “a study that identified high-impact scientific and technological breakthroughs required for global sustainable development.”

“We took a problem-oriented approach,” Zach said, “starting with high level issues like global health and digital inclusion, and unpacked those issues to identify the major underlying drivers and then identify where new breakthroughs were or were not a critical part of the solution.” With the belief that the number of truly transformative technologies is much more than just a handful, the report set about discovering what those were – not just the big, buzzworthy, of-the-moment ideas, but the ones that are game-changing, scalable, and can make a substantial and long-lasting impact in developing countries. Completed in 2014, the full study took over two years to conduct and has since been used by major funding entities like USAID and the Lemelson Foundation to help guide their strategy. Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight – Scott Orn

scott ornbScott Orn, BS 99
Co-Founder of Ben’s Friends: @bensfriends
Director of Community Products at Callisto Media

Scott Orn, BS 99, receives about 25 “thank you” notes every day. They’re from patients and supporters across the world whose lives have been changed by Ben’s Friends, an online community that he and friend Ben Munoz founded to help people with rare diseases find support and share information.

Seven years ago, as Ben recovered from arteriovenous malformation, a rare brain aneurysm, he could not find a single person who had his condition – offline or online – with whom he could talk and connect. As a result Scott and Ben started the first Ben’s Friends community, It took off immediately. They then started two more communities, and Soon afterward members began volunteering to help moderate and transform the communities into “kind of a mini-Wikipedia.” Today, Ben’s Friends is the second largest rare disease community in the world, with 33 community sites and over 200 volunteer moderators. In October alone it served 125,000 patients and loved ones and is growing about 10% per month.

ben's friends logo“It feels really good to bring so much joy and relief to people across the world,” Scott said. “I could never walk away from that feeling and from the 200+ volunteer moderators who have been on this journey with us. They are the bravest people in the world – choosing to help others while they too are combating their disease.”

Ben’s Friends is also a very efficient nonprofit, with an annual budget of just over $35,000 a year and a waiting list of about 100 communities that people write in asking it to start.

Scott attributes his ability to create such a strong network to his and Ben’s business backgrounds, which have guided their decisions in two ways:

  1. Using Lean Startup methods: They run many little experiments, keep the burn rate low, and invest as much as possible into the ones with positive results. One such project was the Rare Disease Doctors Database, in which a developer donated his time to create a prototype through which patients could find a doctor who was familiar with their condition. The prototype was met with positive responses from the patients, so it was grown into a more functional database.  In fact, liked the Doctors Database project so much, they supported it with a $10,000 grant.
  2. Incorporating organizational behavior principles: They built an organization where volunteer moderators take ownership of their community. The moderators serve as catalysts, greeting new members and policing the community to keep it positive. The moderators then share the best practices within a community of only moderators. Now, Ben’s Friends has an elite group of seasoned moderators who coach and counsel new moderators. Ben’s Friends is organizational behavior for impact, not profit.

Impact of Ben’s Friends

According to the community’s survey, over 75% of the members said that information and relationships they develop on Ben’s Friends positively impacts their treatment decisions. In addition, 80% responded that being part of the Ben’s Friends community makes them feel better and has helped accelerate their recovery.

Scott’s most memorable experience with Ben’s Friends was during one of the nights he was moderating the site, when the nonprofit was still new. He saw a post from a teenager on the East Coast who could not sleep because she had a doctor’s appointment the next morning.

“She was going in for some scary stuff and I knew she needed some kind words,” Scott said. “But before I could type anything, I saw a woman from Australia write back and comfort her. Here were two strangers on different continents connecting in a moment of absolute need. At that moment, I knew Ben’s Friends would help a lot of people.”

Advice for current Haas students

“Use your powers for good. You’ve been blessed with a strong intellect and now through Haas, you have a toolkit to solve tough problems. Make the world a better place. Maybe you’ll make a buck or two, and maybe you won’t. But you’ll wake up every morning knowing you are changing the world and there is no better feeling.”


Ben’s Friend’s Indiegogo fundraiser.

Tackling Stigma and Brainstorming on Strategy for Nonprofit Aiming to Prevent Deadly Virus

By Katherine Murtha

On November 3, six alums of the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business proved they are students always. Gathering on campus, the group of alumni volunteered to help a startup online health education nonprofit at a Solutions Lab organized by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership.

The nonprofit client, HPVANDME.ORG, creates easy-to-understand videos educating people about human papillomavirus (HPV). Its mission is to become the premier hub of information on the treatment and prevention of HPV and HPV-related head and neck cancers. HPV is a prevalent disease: each year, more than 14 million people are infected, and 26,000 are affected by the cancers it causes – cancers that are preventable. HPV has a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommend all people ages 11-21 (up to 26 for women) receive the vaccine, which targets three of the most common strains of the virus. But as HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, efforts to educate the public about it must overcome a social stigma that stifles conversations about sex.

Volunteer alums Alice and Dave brainstorm ideas on sticky notes for HPVANDME, a client of the Solutions Lab.

Volunteer alums Alice and Dave brainstorm ideas on sticky notes for HPVANDME, a client of the Solutions Lab.

The approachable style and high production value of HPVANDME’s content have drawn the attention of the Centers for Disease Control, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and other potential partners. During the Solutions Lab, the alumni volunteers brainstormed ways for HPVANDME to partner with these organizations to help it achieve its goal. Alums drew on a diversity of experiences in online content creation, technology startups, and health care. The opportunity to give back through business skills piqued the interest of one volunteer, who said activities like Solutions Lab keep his “brain from turning to mush.”

“This is our ‘continuing education,’” another Haas volunteer said of Solutions Lab, “and it feels good.”

That continuing education included a quick overview of a Problem Framing Problem Solving brainstorm technique, diverging and converging. After ideating individually on sticky notes, volunteers paired up to cluster their ideas by category and refined a pitch. They presented their top ideas to the client and, via video conference, to representatives of two prospective partner organizations for HPVANDME. In the process, alums learned about the disease and the discourse within the medical community on prevention and treatment for HPV-positive cancers.

In addition to approaches to partnership, the ideas for HPVANDME also included business practices that the startup nonprofit could implement to help it grow.

The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership has hosted four sessions of Solutions Lab, a unique opportunity for Haas alumni to lend their business acumen to assist nonprofit clients. You can read more about past sessions here.

Top 5 Takeaways from Social Impact Consulting Career Panel

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Event: Social Impact Consulting Career Panel Date: Monday, November 3, 2014 Berkeley-Haas hosted panelists achieving social impact through careers in consulting. They shared their advice and personal experience with using consulting principles and projects on strategy, sustainability, evaluation, change management and others. With Kimberly Wright-Violich as moderator, the panelists provided insight on the challenges of their work as well […]

3 Steps for More Impact Investment-Ready Organizations

By Katherine Murtha

As impact investing comes into the mainstream, there are not enough investment-ready enterprises able to absorb the amount of capital that impact investing is poised to generate.” Dr. Judith Rodin, remarks at Aspen Ideas Festival, June 2014

“All levels of government are facing steeper costs on health care and pensions, where the relentless demographics are just grinding down on all other items in the budget.” – A former state government CFO quoted in Bridgespan’s report, January 2012

A dearth of impact investment-ready deals. Diminishing government funds for social sector organizations. These are big challenges. This week, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s CEO Antony Bugg-Levine and VP Bill Pinakiewicz shared solutions that might address both. They suggested three ways for funders to help social enterprises remain viable and create value for investors.

  1. Help social impact organizations understand the new paradigm. The possibility is very real that traditional public funding for nonprofits will not bounce back.
  2. Help social enterprises and nonprofits adapt to this new funding landscape. Enable them to focus on the measurable outputs that impact investors like to see and adjust their business models to take advantage of government incentives for achieving metrics.
  3. Strengthen social impact organizations. Invest in their adaptive capacity or organizational effectiveness – give organizations tools to understand their finances, improve their capital structure, and measure outputs.

Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight – Jennifer Kawar, Director, Nonprofit Finance Fund

Jennifer Kawar

Jennifer Kawar, BS 82

Jennifer Kawar, Haas BS 82, admits that working for the social sector wasn’t her focus while obtaining her undergraduate degree from Haas and her MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

It was after 14 years of experience in the “mainstream” of financial services, working in  business development, underwriting, portfolio management and credit administration for financial institutions like TIAA-CREF, GE Capital and Bank of America, while devoting her energies to family and community, that Jennifer reflected on how she could better use her business education and experience to effect change in the social sector.

Her move into the social sector.

“People with training in accounting and finance have largely been deployed to Wall Street or corporate America, toward managing assets for individuals or corporations that have accumulated wealth,” she said. “I wondered what might be possible if we re-deployed some of that talent to help those who don’t have ready access to capital and financial advice.”

Continue reading

Community Partner Spotlight – ImpactAssets

Ron Cordes, BS 81, Founder and Board Member

Like many successful new enterprises, ImpactAssets began as a way to address an unmet need. Ron Cordes, Haas BS 81, needed advice on investing the assets of his new family foundation. He quickly fell into what he calls the “5% – 95% conundrum”. Advisors pushed the foundation to have a grant budget equal to 5% of its assets and invest the rest. “Why can’t we have an impact with our other 95%?” Ron pushed back. The answer to that question led to ImpactAssets, a nonprofit financial services company whose mission is to build the field of impact investing and provide investment opportunities to a wide range of investors.

Ron Cordes, BS 81

Ron Cordes, BS 81

ImpactAssets is a 501(c)3 nonprofit public entity designed to be a field builder and to create an ecosystem to benefit the field and the public at large. It is also a financial services company committed to being financially accountable with a sustainable revenue model based on earned income. It manages $150 million in assets, having surpassed an initial goal of $100 million last year. It engages the field in two main ways;

  1. acting as a catalyst, promoter and supporter of impact investing, and
  2. democratizing impact investing by providing financial products accessible to small investors.

Continue reading

“Gamify” and “Ask Me Anything”: In Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership’s Solutions Lab, Haas Alumni Suggest Ways to Make MapLight’s Voter Education Tool Shareable

By Katherine Murtha

Were you happy about the turnout of the primary election last week?MapLight---client-intro-(1)-web

Berkeley nonprofit MapLight wants to help voters make educated decisions when they step into the voting booth. To that end, MapLight developed Voters Edge, a free online tool that provides voters with information about candidate and ballot measure funding and details on all the issues. But so far, MapLight’s Executive Director, Dan Newman, has been disappointed with the electorate’s lackluster response.

With a goal of getting two million Voters Edge users by January 2015, MapLight partnered with the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business to run a brainstorm session where Haas alums lent their creativity to brainstorm marketing ideas.

The group of seven alumni included MBAs who graduated in 1982, 2007, and 2014, as well as a Marketing PhD and alums from the undergraduate program.

Before they arrived, the Haas volunteers clicked through the Voters Edge tool and prepared questions for Dan and the MapLight team. After a warmup and brief overview, the volunteers got to work dreaming up ideas to make Voters Edge more shareable on social media.

For about 25 minutes, the Haas alums refined their top ideas. Then they made their pitches to nine members of MapLight’s staff, who stayed late so they could hear the ideas and give feedback.

Some of the ideas aired were for MapLight to “gamify” Voters Edge to incentivize users to share the tool online. MapLight’s team was interested in suggestions like hosting a bipartisan Reddit Ask Me Anything (or “AMA”) forum to raise awareness of the tool and the influence of money in politics.

The two hours flew by. Both clients and volunteers expressed interest in participating in another Solutions Lab, with a little more time for back and forth.

The MapLight Solutions Lab was the third of a three-session pilot run by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership for Haas alumni. The next batch of client sessions will be held in the fall. Click here to learn more.

At Foundation for Sustainable Development, UC Berkeley-Haas Alumni Brainstorm Messaging through Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership’s Solutions Lab

By Katherine Murtha

Mireille Cronin-Mather had a question.pair-ideation-(2)for-web

The Executive Director of the Foundation for Sustainable Development – a 20-year-old nonprofit with 30 corporate partners and 10 sites worldwide – wondered how her organization could tell its story.

FSD sends teams of volunteers to sites around the world, where over short periods they train community members to run successful and financially sustainable organizations. Five years after these volunteer teams have come and gone, 79% of programs are still running. FSD credits this success to strong leaders within the communities.

Highlighting its asset-based, community-driven approach jars with the more commonly told narrative of international development organizations that solve problems for people in need. And that message had not been tested with a new potential donor pool: impact investors.

So on Thursday night, nine passionate alumni of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business got to work in FSD’s San Francisco office. The two-hour brainstorm and pitch session surfaced ideas for how FSD should make its case to donors from the social impact investing field. Continue reading