Alumna Named One of America’s Best Leaders of 2009

November 16, 2009
by Lindsay Hodges Anderson

While attending Harvard Medical School, Cheryl Dorsey MPP 1992 received a fellowship from the nonprofit organization Echoing Green to launch a community-based mobile health unit. Almost 20 years later, Dorsey is president of Echoing Green and was recently named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.

The list celebrates those leaders, from a range of fields, “who motivate people to work collaboratively to achieve great things.” Dorsey was chosen was for her social entrepreneurship work with Echoing Green, including the mobile health program she established in the early 1990s, which now reaches approximately 7,000 people every year and aims to close the mortality rate gap between black and white infants in inner-city Boston.

“This is a humbling honor for me and for Echoing Green, and an exciting victory for the field of social entrepreneurship to which we are dedicated,” said Dorsey. “Fledging social entrepreneurs face both operational and paradigm constraints. It's difficult to start any business and the barriers to entry are significant. Echoing Green provides a supportive community and technical support to help build the organizational infrastructure social entrepreneurs need to succeed.”

As a graduate of both Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Medical School, Dorsey has applied lessons learned in the classroom in her community and beyond.

“I gained deep expertise at both HKS and HMS in medicine, health care policy, public health and economic development issues and had the opportunity to translate that knowledge into community action,” she said. “I left HKS with a strong sense of public service and the skills with which to participate effectively. As a nonprofit professional, I understand the relationship between civil society and the government and how the social sector interacts with the government in the policymaking arena.”

Dorsey said Harvard has been ground zero for the social entrepreneurship movement in the United States, especially amongst young people.

“Much of the early thinking about Echoing Green was done at Harvard, including at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. The very first president of Echoing Green is an HBS grad. I learned about the Echoing Green Fellowship program while a student at HKS. It has been exciting to watch HKS continue to play a leadership role in this space through top academic leaders like Christine Letts, the institutional support of the Center for Public Leadership and through student engagement through opportunities like the Social Enterprise Club and the Reynolds Fellowship.”

Since 1987, Echoing Green – whose mission is to support emerging entrepreneurs – has awarded more than $28 million to nearly 500 entrepreneurs across the world. Dorsey joined the board of Echoing Green in 1998 and become president in May 2002. She also works with several other governmental and non-profit organizations, including the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, City Year (national), DonorsChoose.org, Freelancers Insurance Company, Inc., and Green City Force.

America’s Best Leaders is a collaborative project with Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.

Cheryl Dorsey

Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green, was recently named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. Photo courtesy of U.S. News & World Report.

"I left HKS with a strong sense of public service and the skills with which to participate effectively. As a nonprofit professional, I understand the relationship between civil society and the government and how the social sector interacts with the government in the policymaking arena." - Cheryl Dorsey

Cheryl Dorsey

Dorsey was chosen was for her social entrepreneurship work with Echoing Green, including the mobile health program she established in the early 1990s, which now reaches approximately 7,000 people every year. Photo courtesy of U.S. News & World Report.


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