About Us

Now more than ever, students are pushed into career paths without having the time to gain the necessary experience to truly understand the industries they think they want to pursue. We work with first-year college students to expose them to career paths in a safe environment where failure is embraced, theoretical learning is coupled with access to experienced industry mentors, and real benefits to social change are visible as a result of their work.

We provide the space for students to explore how for-profit businesses can positively impact society, how small and medium-sized enterprises operate in general, and how to communicate with and manage projects for team members and business leaders.

Mission-driven businesses are changing the world—but they often lack resources, time, or bandwidth to explore the strategic issues that hinder their impact. Social Impact Scholars trains, mentors, and manages the students so that the client-Scholar interaction is time-efficient, effective, and impactful. Business leaders also benefit from a direct line of communication with this latest pool of talent (Generation Z) so they are better prepared for future management challenges.


Learner-Centered Approach

When designing the group teams (typically four or five students) we consciously ensure that there are diverse voices, experiences and skills to tackle each client challenge – just as you would hope from a professional consulting team. Students become part of an international microcosm that is a reflection of the wider world, something we believe gives our Scholars a “leg up” both personally and professionally.

Brian Hanssen, founder of the Social Impact Scholars and a professor in NYU Stern’s Social Impact Core, leads the training program that the Scholars undertake prior to the start of the summer consultancy. This ensures that all our participants have a grounding in the principles of design thinking, creativity, and consulting theory. The program itself is structured through a three stage execution process:

  • Review: Unpack the problem and interrogate the client challenge
  • Gather: Research, explore, & question
  • Ideate: Create a solution tailor-made for the entrepreneur

Our Team

Brian Hanssen

Executive Director

Professor Brian Hanssen founded the Social Impact Scholars in February 2017 and serves as the Executive Director. A fervent believer in experiential learning, Brian aims to provide quality, practical internships and training for college students to understand the inner workings of business and explore its social Impact. He is currently the Associate Director of the Management Communication program and Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Communication at the NYU Stern School of Business. Brian has been teaching in Stern’s Social Impact core since January 2009.

Prior to teaching in both the undergraduate and MBA programs at NYU, Brian held a global management position in product readiness and enablement at Intralinks, a leading technology provider of secure collaboration solutions.

Before Intralinks, Brian spent eight years in management consulting focusing on leadership development and organizational change. His experiences encompass corporate restructuring, IT implementation, and development of social impact/shared value programs. Past clients include UBS, General Electric, Citi, Total, and the Republic of Kenya. He has also worked in the non-profit sector and was a teacher in Los Angeles.

Professor Hanssen holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and Columbia University. His research interests focus on the social impact of small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s), particularly in China and the United States.

Kristy McCadden

Summer Coordinator

Kristy spent 12 years at NYU Stern being inspired by undergraduate students who are passionate about using their business knowledge to make this world a better place. She resolutely believes that college is a time for students to get out into the “real world,” take chances, learn from triumphs and mistakes, and to make connections. She believes in the individuality and power of undergraduate students and is enthusiastic about helping them to navigate along their journeys and realize their own great potential.

While at NYU Stern, Kristy worked on every aspect of social impact programming — from big picture strategy to routine program management and problem solving. She supported NYU Stern leadership in the creation of a broad vision with social impact at its core; teamed up with faculty to advance the only four-course core curriculum focused on social impact; joined faculty, funders, and nonprofit partners to develop and run a social impact consulting elective course; and collaborated with instructors and administrators to design and implement co-curricular programs to enhance classroom teaching and learning. What remains most fulfilling for Kristy were the opportunities to engage social impact-minded undergraduate students-as advisor to the Social Impact Council and First Year Impact service-based program, and as coordinator of an array of social impact co- and extra-curricular programs.

Before NYU Stern, Kristy spent time at the University of Pennsylvania and as a program assistant at Equal Justice Works, a DC-based legal nonprofit committed to ensuring equal justice for all. She holds degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park and NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. In her spare time, she is her children’s loudest cheerleader, volunteers with her local Home and School Association, is diving into the world of grant writing, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches Netflix.

Leo Lu

Director of Partnerships

Leo is a graduate of the NYU Stern Class of 2016 currently working in financial services. Having been interested in entrepreneurship since high school, during his time at Stern Leo participated and mentored Social Impact initiatives, which he continues to do in his role at Social Impact Scholars in finding new partner companies to work with.

Young leaders making change one small business at a time