The Chapin-May Lecture Series for Social Entrepreneurship at George Williams College
About the Series
The inaugural season of The Chapin-May Lecture Series for Social Entrepreneurship at George Williams College is an exciting venture that will bring renowned leaders to GWC to speak on social entrepreneurial efforts. Their work to create sustainable solutions to societal needs and challenges reflects the concept of the George Williams Plan. This unique GWC initiative provides an integrated approach to a liberal arts education in which students approach problem solving with an ethically sound perspective. The plan prepares students to become positive difference makers in the world, also known as social entrepreneurs.
Join us in the Mabel Cratty Building to learn from social entrepreneurs who have transformed society for the better. Each lecture is free and open to the public. To RSVP, visit gwc.aurora.edu/speakerseriesRSVP.
Wednesday, February 27 | 6:00 p.m.
Steve Wanta, Executive Program Director, Whole Planet Foundation
Steve Wanta joined Whole Planet Foundation in 2006 after two years in the Peace Corps helping rural Guatemalan farmers implement business solutions in an effort to improve their livelihoods. While at the Foundation, he has supported the creation of microfinance institutions in Guatemala and Costa Rica in partnership with Grameen Trust. His international development experience coupled with his previous work in business development in the technology industry help Wanta to bridge between people struggling to make ends meet and leaders looking to understand the challenges of the poor. As the Executive Program Director for the Foundation, Wanta is responsible for overseeing and expanding the organization’s portfolio of microfinance projects around the world.
To learn more about the efforts of Whole Planet Foundation, click here.
Wednesday, March 13 | 6:00 p.m.
F. Xavier Helgesen, CEO, Off.Grid:Electric
A serial social entrepreneur, F. Xavier Helgesen is the Co-founder and CEO of Off.Grid:Electric, a distributed renewable energy company operating in Arusha, Tanzania. Off.Grid:Electric radically reduces the cost and risk of adopting solar energy for off-grid households worldwide, allowing residents to replace kerosene with solar for as little as $1.25 a week. The company is based on Helgesen’s research as a Skoll Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he earned an MBA. He is also Co-founder and Chairman of Better World Books, a $60 million triple bottom line online bookstore that has raised more than $11 million for literacy around the world.
Watch an interview with Helgesen here.
Wednesday, March 27 | 7:00 p.m.
James Riordan, Former Director, Chemonics International Inc.
James Riordan is considered a true global citizen who has lived in Colombia, Peru, Egypt and Albania, and whose work as a development economist extends to 59 countries worldwide. His expertise focuses on the design and implementation of business development and policy reform programs. During his time in Peru as the Project Director of the USAID Poverty Reduction and Alleviation Program, Riordan implemented an innovative approach to generating jobs for the poor. His work with this program is chronicled in his book “We Do Know How: A Buyer-Led Approach to Creating Jobs for the Poor.”
Thursday, April 18 | 6:00 p.m.
Chad Pregracke, President, Living Lands & Water
Chad Pregracke, who has appeared on CNN and the Discovery Channel TV show "Dirty Jobs," is the President and Founder of Living Lands & Waters (LL&W), the world’s only “industrial strength” not-for-profit river cleanup organization. He formed LL&W at the youthful age of 23, after spending his life growing up and working on the Mississippi River. He became appalled by the amount of garbage in the river and decided that if no one else was going to do something about it, he would. During the last 15 years, he, his crew, and 70,000 volunteers have removed seven million pounds of garbage out of the nation’s rivers. His mission now includes the work of a MillionTrees and the Adopt-A-River Mile Project, as well as a new floating classroom aboard a barge that he and his crew live on seven months of the year, teaching students, educators and others about the value of our rivers and natural resources.
Learn about Pregracke's No More Trash initiative here.
This presentation is co-sponsored by the Chapin-May Foundation of Illinois and the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency.
The Chapin-May Lecture Series is wholly funded by the Chapin-May Foundation of Illinois. George Williams College has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the foundation and is the recipient of several generous grants that have improved campus buildings and supported the everyday work of the college. The foundation was originally established by Alice May, a sister of GWC Trustee S.B. Chapin, who enjoyed the many speakers who visited the campus in the 1920s and 1930s, most notably the evangelist Billy Sunday. Chapin’s grandson, Harold Hartshorne, Jr., is a leading benefactor for the GWC campus and we are honored to present the Chapin-May Lecture Series for Social Entrepreneurship at George Williams College in his family’s name.