ECMC Group and U of M Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship Announce 2021 DePodesta Leadership Fellows

March 24, 2021

Press Release

MINNEAPOLIS—Minneapolis-based ECMC Group, in partnership with the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, has announced two new John DePodesta Leadership Fellowships. The program, launched in 2020, provides graduate students in business, public policy, sociology or education the opportunity to co-design or launch a new venture in partnership with existing educational organizations that seek to improve the quality of postsecondary education.

“The DePodesta Fellowship Program enables us to support the next generation of leaders and their advancement of education now and well into the future,” said Jeremy Wheaton, president and CEO of ECMC Group. “Through their ingenuity, these students are developing solutions to address the fundamental challenges facing postsecondary education.”

Initial feasibility grants of $15,000 will be awarded annually for up to four students. Subsequent launch grants of up to $75,000 may be made available to students demonstrating strong progress with their concepts, significant potential impact from their venture and a commitment to operate the venture full-time for at least 12 months post-graduation.

“This Fellowship illustrates the Carlson School’s vision of business serving as a force for good while supporting student efforts to effect change in our society,” said John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center. “We are excited to work with these fellows to test and develop their new ventures while connecting them with resources to solve meaningful problems.”

The Fellowship was developed in recognition of John DePodesta, a founding board member and immediate past chair of ECMC Group, who has spent the past 25+ years working to help students succeed.

The new DePodesta Fellows are:

Cassandra Silveira

  • Silveira’s proposal will address postsecondary options and employment for young autistic adults in the technology sector by exploring the industry certifications required for entry-level technology jobs and bridging that with the needs of employers.
  • Silveira is an extension educator at the University of Minnesota in the Center for Family Development, where she is the state program coordinator for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). In that role, she supervises the work of regional coordinators and frontline educators, providing leadership and development to further the mission of the program and expanding program reach to eligible audiences. Silveira is a registered dietitian and has earned her master’s degree in public health nutrition. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in human resource development at the University of Minnesota.

Ryan Wold

  • Wold is working on developing a mentor program management software that will make it easy and fun to create and manage sustainable mentor programs. From interactions with his own mentors, years of experience as a volunteer mentor in the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice System and now as a coordinator of a mentor program at the University of Minnesota, Wold has experienced how mentorship can help students succeed. Due to budget shortfalls and logistical challenges, mentor programs often are not available to the student populations who could benefit the most.
  • Wold is pursuing his Ph.D. in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication while teaching courses on business writing and the rhetoric of technology. His research focuses on the intersection of technical communication and entrepreneurship. He is driven to educate people on how emerging technologies affect their lives and to empower people to use technology to share their expertise with the world.

One fellow from the 2020 program will continue the Fellowship in 2021:

Jessica Thompson
Social Venture: First-Generation Success
Jessica is a Ph.D. student currently working on her doctoral degree analyzing the outcome of first-generation students and the intersection of programs designed to support their educational success. She also currently teaches, advises and develops programming for historically marginalized students at the University of Minnesota. Following the 2020 trial of her Co-Creating Through Design initiative at the University of Minnesota, she will be rolling out her service offering to increase the academic outcomes of first-generation and low-income students at other higher education institutions.

About Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management
The Holmes Center is the hub of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Minnesota that inspires, educates and connects the next generation of Minnesota's entrepreneurs. We mobilize the community and provide support for emerging entrepreneurs, both within and outside the University, through experiential courses and engaging outreach programs.


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