UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Shaping Leaders, Driving Results

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

CSE Leadership Associates

  • Education: Mainstream sustainability and integrate it throughout Kenan-Flagler programs.
  • Practice: Build corporate and community partnerships to expand experiential learning.
  • Knowledge: Expand CSE's knowledge base and make UNC Kenan-Flagler the go-to place for teaching tools and resources on sustainability.
  • Strategy: Build partnerships and develop marketing strategy to advance the Center’s strategic priorities.

CSE Leadership Associates play an important role in strengthening critical bonds between CSE, MBA and BSBA students. Fellows will work to incorporate MBA and BSBA interests into CSE programs and activities and will serve as representatives of the Center.

Read more about our recent CSE Leadership Associates below.

Nathaniel Smith (MBA ’18)

Nate Smith

Nathaniel Smith (MBA ’18)

The inspiration for my interest in a career in sustainability began while I attended Villanova University. I had moved to Pennsylvania to study Finance and International Business, however many of my most influential experiences happened during my time volunteering within the school’s campus ministry. Repairing homes with Habitat for Humanity and repopulating sea turtles in Costa Rica helped me recognize the importance of using my abilities in the service of humanity and protecting beautiful yet fragile ecosystems for generations to come.

When choosing my MBA, I selected the institution that would not only advance my knowledge of finance and marketing but also prepare me to be a leader of change throughout my career. When I visited UNC for accepted students’ day I knew that this school had a genuine interest in developing a concentration that other schools may ignore. Kenan-Flagler is breaking the mold, attracting high quality talent that cares as much about our planet and people as they do about profit. 

 Many companies see profit as the sole determinant of success, with ethical dilemmas cast aside for the benefit of share prices. While capitalism has shortcomings, it also cultivates innovations that greatly benefit society. We live in a unique time of global awareness regarding environmental and social issues that is pushing firms to rethink business as usual. UNC Kenan-Flagler has an opportunity to serve as the premier conduit in the field, connecting progressive companies with top-level sustainability talent.

 I look forward to contributing to the advancement of the CSE’s mission and serving as a liaison for interested current and prospective students, alumni, and employers.

Irina Trenkova (BSBA ’18)


Irina Trenkova (BSBA ’18)

I spent my summers hiking in the mountains of Bulgaria where I grew to appreciate the outdoors. Through these excursions, my family taught me that we should always treat the environment with care and our resources with frugality. This mentality allowed me to be conscious of the social and environmental impacts of strategic business decisions.

My interest in sustainability continued to grow when I took a class called Leadership in Action abroad. In this class, we had a speaker present on the topic of ‘edible’ landscapes and sustainable land use which could foster community engagement and awareness. I found the idea of connecting citizens to their environment through the endorsement of local economies and the creation of community gardens particularly fascinating. Given the scarcity of resources, it is extremely important that we educate our citizens and businesses on the value of sustainability.

I am extremely eager to assist the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and begin helping promote sustainability events and speaker series. I believe that the most successful businesses will be the ones that encourage sustainability, green-building practices as well as those that recognize how to most effectively use the resources we have. 

Prerana Manvi (MBA ’17)

Prerana Manvi (MBA ’17)

I was born and raised in India, travelling across the country for education and work. Since childhood, making the world a greener and more prosperous place to live in has been a recurring theme in my idea of a dream career. After graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master’s in Economics, I have been on a pursuit to develop a pragmatic approach to achieve the ideal world that I envision.

Prior to business school, I worked as a consultant, helping companies manage investments into Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability programs, thereby closely witnessing the impact of effective corporate intervention. With that experience, I grew to become a strong believer in the power that businesses have to promote conservation of natural resources, and bridge gaps in socio-economic statuses. I decided to pursue an MBA with an aim to enhance my knowledge of business models and to assimilate skills that can help me envisage business processes that can result in shared value for the enterprises as well as the community.

During my research, I was keen to look for a school that had a prominent focus on Sustainability. Thanks to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise (CSE), Sustainability is not just built into the curriculum, but is also beautifully woven into the entire ecosystem. I am deeply honoured and very excited to be selected as a CSE Leadership Associate. Under the guidance of experienced members of the faculty, I look forward to work with my fellow classmates to uphold the CSE’s legacy and elevate Kenan-Flagler Business School to the annals of leadership in Sustainability.

Abigail Barnhill (BSBA ’16)

Abigail Barnhill (BSBA ’16)

My interest in sustainable enterprise stems from my belief that in the near future, the most successful businesses will be the businesses with the most sustainable practices. The resources in this world are limited; therefore the most cost efficient methods involve conservation of those scarce resources. Growing up in Colorado, I came to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and the importance of protecting it from unnatural destructive forces.

While completing my undergraduate studies at Kenan-Flagler Business School, I have learned a lot more about the importance of sustainable enterprise. The summer of my sophomore year, I took part in the Costa Rica Global Immersion Elective. Costa Rica is a nation that wholeheartedly supports efforts to protect the environment, even at the cost of restricting business practices that would generate tax revenue. Instead, many companies adopt sustainable practices by limiting their land and water use, not polluting, and paying more livable wages for their workers. Costa Rica serves as a great example of the successes of sustainable practices.

I aspire to assist Kenan-Flagler in becoming an example of the power of education in sustainable enterprise. Education is the key to creating a more sustainable future. I believe that my peers, future global business leaders, would benefit from understanding the role of sustainable best practices in shaping long term business success.

Shalini Chudasama (BSBA ’14)

Shalini Chudasama (BSBA '14)

Shalini Chudasama (BSBA ’14)

Through attending the TEDxAshokaU conference, and connecting with social entrepreneurs and Benefit Corporations (B-Corp), I realized that business was a very powerful way to drive and scale social change not just in a community, but around the world. My first real exposure to business-driven social change was through Hunger Lunch, a venture of Nourish UNC (formerly Nourish International). In a leadership role, I was challenged to consider our environmental impact and developed ways to minimize it, and embed the value of environmental considerations into the venture’s operations.

While my first experience with sustainable business was focused on the environmental component, I came to understand other aspects of sustainability as a summer intern at The Redwoods Group. There, I saw how critical financial sustainability is to a social enterprise. The good work Redwoods does to keep children safe can only continue by keeping the bottom line in mind. However, there is more than one bottom line, there are three. The synergies of a triple bottom line enterprise were immediately evident to me, and I knew I would want to continue working alongside companies that valued not just profit, but their people and the planet as well.

The Center for Sustainable Enterprise has been pivotal in helping me identify opportunities to pursue sustainability through my career, and is a fantastic resource and advocate for sustainability at UNC. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue its growth and reach as a fellow.

Heather Brutz (MBA ’15)

I grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Cleveland, OH, where I developed a bittersweet appreciation for the

Heather Brutz (MBA '15)

Heather Brutz (MBA ’15)

melancholy beauty of decaying industrial landscapes. After that, I went to Williams College, where I studied political science and environmental studies. I studied abroad in both  Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  After graduating, I taught middle school and high school Spanish for several years. Teaching young people developed my skills in boiling down complex ideas to concepts that could be understood by middle school students. This was excellent preparation for my following work in building public support for complicated policy ideas, such as a climate change bill or improved federal transportation policies. I worked in outreach for several nonprofit advocacy organizations in Washington, DC, where I sold ideas to the public about the benefits of clean energy, a robust public transportation system, and walkable neighborhoods. I plan on studying marketing and sustainable enterprise here at UNC-Kenan-Flagler. I believe that private corporations have huge potential for being a force for sustainability in the world, and I wish to help the Center for Sustainable Enterprise in their mission to promote that, which is why I am pleased and honored to be selected as a CSE fellow.

Elisa Elkind  (MBA ’15)

Elisa Elkind (MBA '15)

Elisa Elkind (MBA ’15)

I am originally from Los Angeles, California and attended the University of California, Berkeley for my undergraduate studies. At UC Berkeley I majored in Legal Studies, minored in Conservation and Resources Studies, and started to explore the many ways our society interacts with the environment. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I worked at a small, organic food company called Living Tree Community Foods. I progressed from Account Manager to Operations Manager during my time there, and contributed to substantial sustainability improvements in raw ingredient procurement and manufacturing. At Living Tree, I developed an understanding of and passion for our food systems – from the range of agricultural practices, to various distribution channels and models, to issues of individual and environmental health. I was excited to realize the huge, positive impact business can have on our planet. Each day at work, I also experienced the challenges of balancing sustainability with turning a profit. I decided to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School for an MBA to hone the analytical and leadership skills necessary for negotiating this space. I hope to return to the food industry after graduating, to further the industry’s sustainability and success.

Emily Liner  (MBA ’15)

Emily Liner (MBA '15)

Emily Liner (MBA ’15)

As an idealist, I have always wanted to change the world; as a realist, I have been searching for practical ways to do so.  I long thought that the only way to make an impact on a large scale was through politics, so as soon as I graduated from Georgetown University in 2008, I went to work in Congressional campaigns.  Yet my political experience taught me that public leaders need partners in the private sector to help advance their ideas and policies.  This is why I decided to come to business school.

I want to build a critical mass toward changing the way that we engage in business to help make people’s lives more fulfilling.  I am interested in how corporations can lead social change in areas like sustainability, women’s advancement, work-life balance, and workplace diversity through developing stronger corporate values, best practices, transparency, corporate governance, and stakeholder engagement.  I believe that by creating a healthier and more sustainable workplace, businesses can become even more successful financially.

When I was a prospective student, I was looking for an MBA program that embraces the role that business can play in society and provides meaningful institutional support for pursuing sustainability and mission-driven careers.  I found that here at Kenan-Flagler.  I am excited to be a part of the CSE Fellows program because the Center for Sustainable Enterprise has been a leader in these areas for almost 15 years.  I am looking forward to working with CSE on developing programming and resources that will challenge the business leaders of the future to think holistically about the positive impact that business can make on the world.

Trang Phan  (MBA ’15)

Trang Phan (MBA '15)

Trang Phan (MBA ’15)

I was born in Da Nang Vietnam and immigrated with my family to Atlanta, Georgia as political refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.  I graduated from Berry College, a liberal arts school in Northwest Georgia majoring in business administration with concentrations in accounting and finance.  After college, I went to work for Georgia-Pacific as an accountant for a little over a year.  I then went to work for Habitat for Humanity International because I wanted to do something that would change people’s lives.  Throughout my financial roles at Habitat, I have seen communities being transformed.  My corporate and nonprofit backgrounds, along with my volunteer work oversea, has provided me with a great lens from which I see the responsibility of business to elevate the living standards of people all over the world.

One of the reasons I wanted to go back to school was to explore how capitalism can be a source for social good.  I have interacted with entrepreneurs who have used business ideas to empower disadvantaged communities and bring peace and equity to some of the most troubling parts of the world.  These social entrepreneurs inspired me to look for creative ways to address the unmet needs of marginalized people.  I believe that at the end of the day, a business idea will only have a lasting impact if local communities believe in that idea and are willing to support it for their own good.

As a CSE fellow, I hope to gain invaluable learning opportunities with the best and brightest minds in the field of social entrepreneurship.  Furthermore, I want to leverage the talents of my classmates and engage them in conversations around sustainable businesses.  My career pursuit after graduate school is to further develop my financial and analytical skillset at a mission-based organization and to eventually one day empower refugee entrepreneurs to be successful business leaders.

David Opoku  (MBA ’15)

David Opoku (MBA '15)

David Opoku (MBA ’15)

I chose to integrate myself in those organizations or cultures I find myself. I find that I can only succeed in an environment if I understand what is important and committing to its values. Often times my beliefs have been tested, and sometimes I have to let go of some of the old ones that no longer hold true and embrace what is new and applicable in that environment. Ever since I stepped foot in Kenan-Flagler Business School, I recognized the school’s commitment to sustainability and I believe my involvement as a CSE Fellow will strategically position me to fulfill my passion for changing the health and the well-being of disadvantaged people.

I was born and raised in Ghana where I completed an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance, and then migrated to the US in that same year. My determination to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged is what made me change careers from banking to nursing in 2007. During my nursing career, I realized that in the US, hospitals generate about 40 tons of medical waste and unused medical supplies every year, and most of these are unopened supplies that can benefit other facilities in underprivileged countries. In an attempt to bridge the gap between surplus and need, I founded The Saving Grace International, Inc. The Saving Grace is a non-profit dedicated to improving the environment and healthcare through health education, treatment, and efficient recovery and redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment to the underprivileged worldwide.

I am no stranger to community involvement as well; I have travelled to Jamaica, Haiti, and Hurricane Isaac, Louisiana as a medical relief volunteer. I strongly believe that we were all created to serve a specific purpose, and that there is a void in society that can only be filled by me. Post MBA, I would like to use the knowledge and skill-set gained through my involvement at the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, to achieve my goal of becoming a social entrepreneur.

Corey Barnes, MBA 2014

Corey Barnes
After graduation from the University of Virginia, with a double major in Architecture and Psychology, I practiced architecture for a mid-sized East-coast firm for four years. While there, I got involved with the movement toward more sustainable building practices: joining the local chapter of the US Green Building council and becoming a local knowledge resource for the building community. Having developed a deep understanding of green buildings and the effect of buildings on our environment, I realized that buildings are just one aspect of creating a sustainable society. Moreover, I realized that the front line of sustainability was the people demanding buildings and creating products: businesses. At that point I decided that if I wanted to change the way that we, as a society, interact with the environment, I needed to be creating change in the current business paradigm.

Enrolling in a dual degree program between UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University has given me an in-depth understanding of the fundamental environmental systems and how our businesses interact with those systems. At the Nicholas School I have focused on the production, distribution, and consumption of energy as well as the identification and quantification of environmental concerns resulting from business operations. Kenan-Flagler has been a perfect complement to this knowledge, giving me the fundamental tools and vocabulary to dissect business problems and provide knowledgeable solutions.

With this skill set I hope to consult with businesses on how to better understand and mitigate their impact on the environment. Further, by analyzing problems using a whole-system approach I will help businesses understand how they can increase value to their customers, shareholders, and society by directly confronting environmental issues.

Matt Crook, MBA 2014

My experience since graduating from college has provided me opportunities to meet and work with various entrepreneurs and business leaders, and has developed my interest in becoming an entrepreneur within the realm of sustainable enterprise. I was born and raised in North Carolina and completed my undergraduate degree here at UNC where I studied Political Science and minored in City and Regional Planning. During college, I enjoyed learning about sustainable initiatives, seeking solutions-oriented projects, and leading organizations in any way I could. After graduation, I moved to Washington, DC to work for a few consulting and business services firms, including Corporate Executive Board, CapTech Consulting, and Navigant Consulting.

I learned even more about organizations and the daily challenges that executives face in these roles, but I attribute my interest and goal of becoming an entrepreneur to my experience outside of my normal ‘nine-to-five’ jobs. As a leader of pro-bono consulting engagements for the Ashoka Foundation, I spoke with many social entrepreneurs and helped them with their business challenges. One of the most memorable entrepreneurs I worked with is a creator of a telecommunications network in the Himalayas, who through his use of technology and sustainable energy is bringing education and health care to remote villages in Nepal. While on a mission trip with my church, I met and worked with the founder of the Spirit of Youth Foundation. His organization is educating some of the poorest children outside of Cairo, Egypt though entrepreneurial activities, collecting and repurposing plastics and other discarded materials. I got to see first hand what a difference this man makes not only for these children, but also the economy in his community.

Working with entrepreneurs in these capacities led me to business school and to plan for a career working with start-ups to build organizations that focus on solutions in the green technology and renewable energy space. Seeking innovative solutions to sustainability challenges is a dream of mine, and I look forward to expanding my passion through my work at the Center for Sustainable Enterprise.

Nidhi Sharma, MBA 2014

My interest in sustainability first began while I was studying environmental systems and agriculture abroad in Nagoya, Japan. There I was able to learn about several efforts to help suppress the world’s greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable agricultural solutions. I also learned about new technological advances that could relieve malnourished populations through implementation of nutrition enrichment in their food supply. This impressionable experience gave me the opportunity to view other perspectives and encouraged me to rethink my future aspirations.

Once I returned to the US, I realigned my scientific career to compliment the interest I acquired abroad. I wanted to utilize my scientific strengths in the efforts to make an impact on our future world. I began my undergraduate research in Bioremediation, focusing on cleaning up oil/gasoline pollution with natural bacteria that exists around us in our daily lives. After completing my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at North Carolina State University, I joined Novozymes as a chemical analyst. I helped facilitate the production of solutions that would help industries reduce the energy and resources put into their products and simultaneously minimize their waste yield. I transitioned to David H. Murdock Research Institute to expand upon my scientific skill set so that I could better contribute to the design of sustainable solutions. However, I realized that I needed a business skill set to truly make the impact that I desired to make.

I chose to come to UNC Kenan-Flagler specifically for its fantastic leadership development, but more particularly for its Center for Sustainable Enterprise. Without disregarding my passion for sustainability, Kenan-Flagler gives me the opportunity to pair my scientific discipline with excellent leadership opportunities so that I can pursue my aspirations in sustainable solutions and become a better leader of tomorrow.

Meredith Magjuka, BSBA 2014

As a business major, minor in sustainability, and minor in social and economic justice, I have dedicated my studies to learning how business can be used as a catalyst for social and environmental justice. I believe that business and social responsibility have significant overlap that is underutilized and often under-represented in businesses. I have experienced the mutually beneficial relationship between sustainability and business first hand through internships. Last year, I performed a sustainability audit of the UNC dining halls, culminating in a plan to increase sustainability and local purchases. This was an opportunity to connect a huge purchaser with local businesses in the community. This past summer, I worked at Nourish International, a non-profit that empowers students to start social enterprises which fund international poverty projects. These experiences, along with others, have given me an opportunity to see how the power of business can be used to solve social problems.

Since I began my studies in the environmental studies department, I have seen the way these issues span across fields of studies, demographics, and interests. I have spent significant time on main campus and in the community, learning firsthand the commitment to sustainability and social responsibility represented within this institution. I am excited to be a fellow to help unite these like-minded individuals, both across campus and in the community. The Center for Sustainable Enterprise is the hub for sustainability and social justice on UNC campus, and I look forward to dedicating my passions to help the center continue to grow and facilitate positive change.

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