Reveling in the Magic


Following our April 2022 In-Residence, we received an email from Bret Waters, one of our long-time and most active mentors. He really captured how special this program was, ending with, “Thank you for reminding me that the magic of Miller Center is still alive.” (Bret has given us permission to share his email here.) Having joined in the summer of 2020, just months into the pandemic, this was my first in-person international event with Miller Center, and I was blown away. Here are some reflections on just a few highlights that were truly magical for me.

The 24 entrepreneurs representing 16 social enterprises who came to Santa Clara University for this program are truly inspiring, brilliant, passionate, and genuinely nice people. It was a joyous week! Please read Karen Runde’s blog for more information on these stellar women and men.

On Saturday evening, at the end of our first day, we celebrated Miller Center’s 25th anniversary and awarded our first Impact Excellence Awards to six social enterprises that have scaled dramatically since their first participation in a Miller Center program and have been active partners since. Pictured from left to right: Antonio Nuño of Someone Somewhere next to me, then Alicia Wallace of All Across Africa, Manoj Sinha of Husk Power Systems, Katherine Lucey of Solar Sister, Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson of We Care Solar, Lieselotte Heederik of Nazava, and our benefactor and Advisory Board chair, Jeff Miller.

After four straight days of intensive workshops, bespoke mentoring, and shared food and wine, we dedicated most of Wednesday to free time. Entrepreneurs fanned out to explore, shop, or take a driving tour of local tech giants Google, Facebook, and Apple. I was thrilled to lead a group up and down my favorite trails at nearby Almaden Quicksilver Park.

After a morning hike and afternoon prep for the next day’s Social Enterprise Showcase, I don’t know how I dragged myself out on the town, but the music of the Wailers with these incredible diehards from Mexico, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and India made it all worthwhile.

A Miller Center In-Residence is an all-hands-on-deck event for our entire team and every single staff member participated in multiple ways, both large and small. While I won’t recognize everyone here, I hope I’ve shared with them both individually and collectively how much I appreciate their efforts. That said, there’s a team that deserves special recognition for attending to every detail, troubleshooting emergencies along the way, and generally ensuring that over 100 people had a wonderful, rewarding, and highly educational experience. Pictured from left to right: Sharon Bunyard, Lydia Hultquist, Karen Runde, Thao Nguyen, Samantha Savage, Avery Rissling, and Anthony Sampson.

I imagine I speak for our entire team when I say that we ended the week exhilarated, exhausted, and excited for next time.