The Social and Solidarity Economy: From the Margins to the Mainstream


Diana Wells


President Emerita


Often referred to as a “social innovation champion,” Dr. Diana Wells has used her many international experiences to positively impact under-resourced communities by fostering social entrepreneurship and changemaking. Dr. Wells received her Bachelor of Arts degree in South Asian Studies from Brown University in 1988 and began working at Ashoka, an international organization that supports social entrepreneurship. During her tenure, Dr. Wells built tools to measure the impact of social entrepreneurship and continued to refine her academic knowledge. In 1995, she received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to conduct research in Trinidad and Tobago. Her project, “Trinidad: Engendering a Multi-Ethnic Society,” inspired her subsequent PhD in Anthropology at New York University. Her dissertation, “Between the Difference: The Emergence of a Cross Ethnic Women’s Movement in Trinidad and Tobago,” distilled her findings on social anthropology and informed her important work at Ashoka, where she became president in 2005. Dr. Wells has also served local and global academic communities through her leadership. She was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a Trustee of Brown University and Guidestar International, and an Advisory Board member for Duke University’s Center of Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). She received the highest honors from the Brown University Alumni Association and a “Women to Watch” award by Running Start, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that empowers young women to be political leaders. Dr. Wells has also taught anthropology at Georgetown University.

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