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Lewis Institute Honors 2015 Changemaker Award Recipients

Six Babson community members recognized as social innovators.

Since 2011, the Lewis Institute’s Changemaker Awards have recognized Babson students, alumni and staff who exemplify remarkable effort to create a positive change within the community and in the world.

The recipients of this year’s Changemaker Awards are faculty member Vikki Rodgers; staff member Denning Aaris; graduate student Yuan Yin M’15; undergraduate student Taelyr Roberts ‘15; and alumni Richelieu Dennis and Nyema Tubman.

The winners were honored at a luncheon in Babson’s Glavin Family Chapel and were presented with individual walking sticks. The sticks were given to the honorees to symbolize that they are in constant motion to spark change.

Vikki Rodgers, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, actively participates in a variety of outreach programs to encourage young women and other under-represented groups to pursue careers in science. Her research focuses on understanding the numerous effects humans are having on various natural ecosystems. She is interested in all aspects of global environmental change, including the effects of climate change, land use change, nitrogen deposition, and the spread of invasive species. Currently she is working at the Boston Area Climate Experiment (BACE) in Waltham, MA, collaborating with other scientists to experimentally study how ecosystems shift under various climate change scenarios.

Denning Aaris, Assistant Director, Multifaith Programs, is honored for her work to set change in motion around faith and reflection. Denning’s efforts underlie the importance of a multi-faith pluralist approach to faith, that is it about the behavior and not the belief that is important, and that entrepreneurs of all kinds need to take time to reflect to succeed. She created needed space on campus for the Babson community to reflect and deepen the connections with ourselves, our beliefs, each other, and the larger global community.

Yuan Yin, Chief Executive of SuperHealos, founded the social enterprise after an unexpected hospital stay, a loss of a family member, and a renewed focus on what’s important in life. SuperHealos is dedicated to empowering children and their families facing life’s toughest challenges like illness, bullying, grieving, and divorce. With a focus on imagination and play, SuperHealos provides children with age appropriate stories, products, and information to help them bridge the gap between sickness and recovery, loss and acceptance, fear and courage. Through stories, comic books, poems, videos, capes, and other products, everything they create is designed to promote resiliency and encourage imaginative thinking.

Taelyr Roberts − Through harnessing the power of creativity, art, heritage, diversity and service, Roberts has set into motion social change throughout Babson’s campus. When the world outside of Babson was torn between protests and debates around he #blacklivesmater movement, she, as president of the Black Student Union, jumped into action.  She brought the conversation to campus in a constructive way through staging a “die in” in the student center, giving the community an opportunity to connect with and engage in dialogue around important social events. Roberts received the Diversity Leadership Award upon entering Babson and has used this opportunity to set in motion sustainable opportunities for her fellow classmates — opportunities to understand differences and engage with each other in ways that can only create positive social and sometimes economic value. Roberts has also received the Nan Langowitz Women Who Make a Difference Award and the Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

Richelieu Dennis and Nyema Tubman – after graduating from Babson in 1991, Dennis and Tubman were unable to return to their home country of Liberia due to civil unrest. Instead the two began a changemaker journey building Shea Moisture and Sundial Brands, a skincare company committed to making the highest quality natural skin care products possible, engaging in eco-friendly and cruelty-free business practices, and supporting local communities and fair trade around the world. Throughout its phenomenal expansion, Sundial has remained true to the deep family tradition and legacy of Dennis’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker. Widowed at 19, the indomitable and enterprising Sofi began making and selling handmade shea butter soaps and other products in her native Sierra Leone to support her family. Today, working with five co-ops in Africa, Shea Moisture and Sundial Brands are helping to create safer, cleaner, and more efficient work spaces for more than 1,400 women.

Changemaker 2015

Babson President Kerry Healey with Changemakers: (L-R) Denning Aaris (staff), Richelieu Dennis (Alumni), Babson President Healey, Yuan Yin (Graduate), Taelyr Roberts (Undergraduate), Nyema Tubman (Alumni), and Cheryl Kiser, The Lewis Institute. Absent Vikki Rodgers (Faculty).