Women MBAs Doing Well by Doing Good

The Palumbo-Donahue School of Business has long championed transformative learning experiences for students. Both our 1-year MBA Sustainable Business Practices and Professional MBA programs transform students into socially responsible leaders through significant experiential learning opportunities and consulting projects—engaging global and regional companies as well as nonprofit organizations.

Duquesne’s MBA students and alumni are transcending boundaries, improving society, making a difference and advancing their careers. Meet four Duquesne women MBA leaders, innovators and drivers of change in the Pittsburgh community. They talk about using their passions and talents to create positive impact in their jobs and leveraging the skills they learned at Duquesne to forge impressive results.

In their own words…

Gina Johnson, MBA’15
Director of Business Sustainability Programs, Sustainable Pittsburgh

“What I gained at Duquesne helps me in my work every day, especially the relationships I developed with sustainability leaders, consulting project partners, professors and fellow MBA alums.”

Advancing Sustainability in the Workplace

I came back to my hometown six years ago with the goal of making a difference in the Pittsburgh region, and the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program gave me the connections and tools to do just that.

At Sustainable Pittsburgh, our mission is to bring social equity, a better quality of life and prosperity for all to the region. One way we work to achieve our mission is by helping local professionals to advance sustainability in their workplaces for real impact, whether in terms of kilowatt-hour savings, living wage jobs or circular business models. It’s really gratifying to see entrepreneurs coming to us for help in setting up their businesses to be sustainable from the start, from inclusive, equitable hiring practices to working with local suppliers. I feel privileged to work toward solutions to societal challenges at Sustainable Pittsburgh because of what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, from them.

Candace Carter Johnson, MBA’18
Volunteer and Donor Engagement Manager, Strong Women, Strong Girls

“My passion is rooted in social responsibility and women empowerment, and my time at Duquesne allowed me to continue to focus on purposeful work.”

Building a Community of Strength

The MBA Sustainable Business Practices program sharpened my skills and taught me to be innovative.

Strong Women, Strong Girls is a multigenerational mentoring organization dedicated to creating an outside support system for young girls and helping them develop skills for lifelong success. In my job, I am able to help cultivate a network and support system between professional women, college women, and elementary school girls that focuses on personal and professional growth and development. I prepare the professional women to be role models and advocates, and they mentor college women.

We strive to build positive mentors by teaching best practices and relationship building as well as develop events and experiences that allow women to learn about career opportunities. In addition, I secure financial support for the organization by creating and developing a sustainable funding stream from a multifaceted approach. I have empowered participants and volunteers, including sponsors and donors, to be a part of an environment that encourages progressive and positive change.

Blare Schoenborn, MBA’14
Healthy Food Access Program Manager, Bridgeway Capital

“Duquesne’s consulting engagements, global study trips, and access to local professionals through networking events allowed me to hone the professional skills I needed to advance my career.”

Improving Access to Healthy Foods

I graduated from the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program in 2014, and I use the hard and soft skills I learned through the program often. The degree I obtained from Duquesne differentiated me from my peers and provided me with a unique set of critical thinking and problem solving skills that add value in my work. The specific focus on sustainable business practices allows me to offer my clients solutions without sacrificing the profits that allow them to build wealth for their families for the first time.

At Bridgeway Capital, we believe that small business growth and community-centric real estate development build strong and inclusive neighborhoods, especially in communities that have been left out of traditional financial markets. Bridgeway offers flexible capital that businesses need to form and grow as well as educational tools and resources to help them succeed.

My job is to manage our Healthy Food Access program and portfolio. This program offers targeted Bridgeway Capital products and services to businesses and organizations that are working to improve access to healthy, fresh, affordable food in neighborhoods where these choices are lacking. We have deployed $3 million to 32 food access projects across western Pennsylvania, which has enabled our clients to build community gardens, offer nutrition education programming, and increase the availability of healthy food retail by 45,000 square feet.

Delvina L. Smith Morrow, Current MBA Student
Director of Development and Community Engagement, The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse

“I am impressed with Duquesne’s maker space. It creates a great sense of community. It’s amazing what can happen when people have an opportunity to create and experiment in a space like this—that’s where true innovation begins.”

Growing Companies and Returning Results

I moved from New York to Pittsburgh three years ago. I’m currently a student in the Professional MBA program at Duquesne. I know the MBA will take my career to the next level.

When I first visited campus, I was amazed at the renovations to the Business School. In particular, the Entrepreneurship Zone and Maker Space.

Helping entrepreneurs grow their companies and returning results to our region and investor community, that’s our mission. At the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), we provide the knowledge, connection, and capital needed to navigate a complex healthcare system—ensuring commercial success.

As Director of Development & Community Engagement, I implement and evaluate the PLSG’s community engagement activities, which include public gatherings and programs, community meetings, and the development of fundraising strategies. I also chair the PLSG’s Under 40, Underserved advisory board, which provides guidance on how to best capture and share life sciences knowledge to improve the success rates of younger companies in obtaining capital and de-risking their programs.