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The Donnelly School of Leadership and Social Innovation

The Donnelly School of Leadership and Social Innovation

Why does the world need a new kind of leader prepared to inspire and deliver a different kind of value? Because solving the world’s most urgent problems — whether at the neighborhood or global scale — depends upon the collective impact of many people and organizations.

A new kind of leader

Society's toughest problems require leaders who can focus and inspire a diverse group of stakeholders to identify and deliver shared solutions. Such an approach is called collective or systems leadership. At the Donnelly School of Leadership and Social Innovation, we attract undergraduate and graduate students seeking purpose and meaning at the intersection of work and values. Donnelly faculty and students approach problem solving with a sense of purpose – a desire to improve everything from neighborhood safety in a local community to the environmental conditions for people halfway around the world.

Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems

In the past, advocates of innovation and value argued for a simplistic view of the role of corporations, government and powerful non-profits in our society. The Donnelly School of Leadership and Social Innovation joins many others reconsidering such long-held assumptions. We look for dialogue and opportunities to co-create value at the intersection of markets, businesses, governments, and society to promote more accountable capitalism and a more just and sustainable world. Rather than seeing this diverse involvement and wider perspective as an impediment, we see the public and social sectors — true social innovation — as the best way to confront challenging and often systemic issues in support of both business success and social progress.

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Work in the Community

  • Food for thought

    Food for Thought

    As experiential learning projects go, this one is straightforward. Operate a mobile food buggy to turn a profit, and then use that profit to feed people experiencing homelessness. Along the way, John Carroll students learn to develop, implement, and refine a social venture business model. As each successive group of students participates in this project and improves upon the work of the previous group, they will learn to:

    • navigate successes and failures,
    • draw on the strengths and talents of each other,
    • stay creative and nimble,
    • apply what they know and learn what they don't know,
    • remain open to change, adaptation, and mid-course correction.

    Students leading this business will become thought leaders, change agents, community builders and ethical leaders while collaborating with partners including the JCU Center for Service and Social Action, the Donnelly School of Leadership and Social Innovation, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries, and the Chopping for Change Program.

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  • Social Enterprise and Change

    Social Enterprise and Change

    In 2020, students from the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University worked with their neighbors from the Ward 6 neighborhood to do a walkability assessment designed to identify neighborhood service needs, and guide future community investment. Art x Love, LLC, a creative agency based in Akron (OH), showed student/resident teams how to collect data and produce a geographic information system (GIS) map of walkability issues and opportunities. Funded by a $50,000 Verizon Foundation grant, Steps to Equity begins John Carroll’s long-term partnership in the Ward 6 area on the east side of Cleveland, as part of the JCU Neighborhood Project.

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  • Social Innovation Fellows

    Social Innovation Fellows

    Social Innovation Fellows are dedicated to creating social innovators and entrepreneurs who are inspired by Ignatian values — rigor, generosity, gratitude, inclusivity, solidarity, and a desire for the greater good.

    We challenge them to grow your entrepreneurial mindset, your curiosity, and your desire to experiment while you actively engage with the Ward 6 community in Cleveland to understand what is holding residents back from thriving and to collaboratively build sustainable solutions that will empower and transform their future. You’ll become a catalyst for social innovation and entrepreneurship across the JCU campus and in any community in which you find yourself.

    This program is an opportunity for incoming John Carroll University freshmen dedicated to becoming social innovators and entrepreneurs inspired by Ignatian values. This fellowship produces graduates who can identify opportunities for innovation in the marketplace and can design and execute solutions for sustainable social change.

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University Fellows Programs

Upcoming Events

Please see below for upcoming events, check back often for updates.

  • Thinkfest Ideation Workshop

    Audience:  High school students
    Date:  October 6 or 7
    Location:  JCU Campus

    Register Here »

  • Dare to Dream Retreat (free)

    Audience:Nov 7 (girls) or Nov 8 (coed)
    Date:  November 7 or 8
    Location:  JCU Campus

    Register Here »

  • Project LEAD Leadership Summit (free)

    Audience:High school juniors
    Date:  February 26
    Location:  JCU Campus

    Registration will open in January
    For more informations, email

Meet the Director

"Our students will create tomorrow. In the Donnelly School, we develop leaders and innovators of Ignatian courage to ensure tomorrow is full of possibility and promise."

Doan Winkel
Director, Donnelly School of Leadership & Social Innovation