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Theresa Ellis '97 
co-founded Common Impact in 2000 to serve as a bridge between high-potential local nonprofits and leading companies whose employees have an interest in using their professional skills to help solve social problems. Common Impact has established programs for companies such as Cisco, State Street, and Fidelity Investments and has connected more than 350 employees with more than 100 nonprofit clients in Boston, New York, and Richmond, VA. For its innovative model of channeling untapped resources into the nonprofit sector, creating a 7-to-1 social return on investmen, Common Impact has been recognized by Boston Business Journal, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Catalogue for Philanthropy, the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, and the Social Innovation Forum.

Ellis speaks frequently about making corporate social responsibility real for employees, about the value of cross-sector partnerships, and about social entrepreneurship. Before co-founding Common Impact, she worked as director of development and planning at Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and as a research associate at Policy Studies Associates. She currently serves on the board of visitors for the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth.

Increasingly, the challenges facing our world require creative solutions that span traditional economic lines. For more than eight years, I have witnessed the remarkable transformation of communities that is possible when America's leading companies work side-by-side with some of our nation's most capable nonprofits. When done well, this process yields benefits for all involved – benefits that lead to new learning and great commitment to our communities from both sides.