Compass Partners to host Shift Series conference

Compass Partners, a group founded in 2009 to aid entrepreneurial Georgetown students, will host a national conference on business ventures and social problems. Entitled Shift Series, the conference will be held on campus and at the National Transportation Safety Board Conference Center in early April.

“When you think of charity, you think of it in the traditional sense of giving to a nonprofit,” Compass Partners co-founder Neil Shah (MSB ’10) said. “Our goal is to talk more about Philanthropy 2.0 – how companies can take the lead in social change.”

Shah created Compass Partners in 2009 with Arthur Woods (MSB ’10) to give students the skills and support to start their own social enterprises. Each year, the organization takes 15 freshmen Compass Fellows through a series of seminars and workshops that teach how to start and maintain socially conscious businesses. By the end of sophomore year, these students present their ideas to potential investors and mentors in the business world.

“As a student, Compass offered me an outlet to explore business,” Elizabeth Sabol-Jones (COL ’13), founder of the on-campus baking service Nightly Noms and a graduate of Compass Fellows, wrote in an email. “Compass really forced me outside of my comfort zone in the beginning, but I soon realized that taking risks was half of the fun, which is one of the reasons I decided to start Nightly Noms.”

In its second year, Compass Partners has expanded beyond the Hilltop to Tufts University, American University, George Washington University, and Indiana University with plans to expand to 20 schools across the country.

Organizers hope that Shift Series, which will host approximately 300 attendees, will further raise the profile of Compass Partners. Centered on the theme of “New Approaches to Social Issues,” the event will comprise two days of workshops and keynote speeches by Jim Clifton, Chief Executive Officer of the Gallup Organization, Morgan O’Brien, founder of Nextel Communications, and Joe Sibilia, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire.

Other speakers include local businessmen Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys and Poets, and Warren Brown, founder of CakeLove, as well as the CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul. The conference consists of two days of workshops and breakout sessions meant to inform potential social entrepreneurs on individual, institutional, and societal shifts in the role of business in promoting social good.

Shift Series was made possible by an extended network of contacts culled by Shah, Woods, and the Compass Fellows. The McDonough School of Business, Companies for Causes, Raffa Consulting, Anybill, and Fairfax and Montgomery Counties are also sponsors of the event.


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