Nazarian Social Innovator in Residence

Through the Angella and David Nazarian Social Innovators in Residence program, students connect with global social innovation leaders face-to-face. And in turn, business icons get in touch with the rapidly growing social impact community here at Wharton.

Hosted by Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the program gives students the opportunity to foster meaningful interactions with prominent social visionaries.

Nazarian Social Innovators share their career experience and dedication to social impact, furthering Wharton’s commitment to applying business-based solutions to solve economic and social challenges in communities around the globe. The visiting innovators meet with and coach students individually, host small-group events, and lead large discussions or workshops while on campus for an annual visit.

These esteemed guests provide an exceptional learning opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers with an emphasis on social impact and responsibility.

Meet the Innovators


We are pleased to announce our 2017-18 Innovator in Residence:
Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne, Chief Executive Officer of iNTENT Ventures

Derek square  Nov 2-3, 2016: Derek Handley

  Fall 2015Liesel Pritzker Simmons

diana_photo  Fall 2014Diana Ayton-Shenker

Program History

Nazarian Social Innovator word cloud

In August 2014, the Wharton School announced a gift to establish the Angella and David Nazarian Social Innovator in Residence Program Fund.

“We are grateful for the Nazarian family’s generosity, which speaks to their commitment to increasing the visibility of social impact,” says Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett. “Their gift will expand our partnerships with community leaders and help us prepare students to go forth and improve the world.”

The fund supports the launch of a new Wharton Social Impact Initiative program that will foster meaningful interactions between current students and prominent social visionaries.

“This wonderful gift from the Nazarians will add a new dimension to the learning opportunities we provide to students,” says Katherine Klein, vice dean of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management. “We look forward to bringing in Nazarian Social Innovators in Residence, who have made waves in their communities and will inspire students to visualize and actualize their professional goals of making a positive impact in the world.”

David Nazarian, founder and CEO of Nimes Capital, LLC, and Angella Nazarian, author and Co-Founder of WOMEN A.R.E., are proud parents of a Wharton undergraduate.

“Angella and I are thrilled by the opportunity to help the Wharton Social Impact Initiative establish a Social Innovator in Residence Program,” says David Nazarian. “The next generation of global leaders understands better than any before the role business can have in creating a strong and lasting social impact in the world. Wharton students will benefit from the collective wisdom and practical knowledge of Nazarian Social Innovators for years to come.”

Nazarian Innovators in Residence will visit The Wharton School once per year. The first three guests were Diana Ayton-Shenker, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, and Derek Handley.

What is an Innovator in Residence?

Nazarian Social Innovators are inspiring figures. These people may be social entrepreneurs, employees of corporations who integrate social impact into their corporate strategy, or representatives of non-profit organizations, with a connecting passion for applying business-based solutions to solve economic and social challenges in communities around the globe.

These guests provide an exceptional learning opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers with an emphasis on social impact and responsibility; likewise, it is an honor to be recognized and invited to this esteemed program.

Visiting Innovators:

  • Have an extensive background and proven experience in social entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Share a deep desire to connect with the Wharton/Penn social impact community and explore opportunities to contribute to this work
  • Have a strong affinity towards working with students through mentorship and one-on-one meetings
  • Are available to be physically based at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, PA for several consecutive business days


The residence program consists of the following components:

  • Two to five business days on location with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative
  • Individual/group office hours by appointment, where students can learn more about the visitor’s work, share their own interests, and ask specific questions about the social entrepreneurship and innovation landscape including feedback on their own ideas.
  • Presentations or workshops on the visiting innovator’s areas of expertise, open to the Wharton/Penn community.
  • Meetings with WSII staff as well as introductions to relevant Wharton/Penn organizations and student groups, when appropriate, including the Leadership Office, the Small Business Development Center, MBA Career Management Office, and student groups such as the Wharton Social Impact Club, Wharton Social Venture Fund, Social Impact Consulting Group, and Social Impact Advisory Board.
  • Guest appearance on SiriusXM’s Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, and other media opportunities such as interviews with Knowledge@Wharton.

Video with 2014 Innovator Diana Ayton-Shenker