The impact of Stanford GSB goes far beyond its students and alumni, beyond the Spanish-style arcades and red-tiled roofs of Stanford University. There is no better illustration of that than Susan Ford Dorsey. As the president of Sand Hill Foundation, she is involved in a wealth of community activities and a wide variety of philanthropic ventures. One of her top priorities at the business school is the Center for Social Innovation (CSI).
Her interests cut across many lines, just as the collaborative work of the center bridges traditional sector boundaries to help address pressing social problems. Ford Dorsey, one of the founders of the center, recently expanded her programmatic support and also endowed the Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow/Scholar Award, to honor faculty at Stanford GSB who are involved with or have an interest or expertise in the work of the center. The first holder of the award is James M. Patell, the Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management.
“It’s the faculty who are the crux of the program,” Ford Dorsey says. “They’re the ones who do the research and teaching and inspire their students to be innovative and to go out and change the world.” Her fund will provide critical financial support to underwrite faculty salary, research time and expenses, course and case development, and related activities.
Ford Dorsey’s involvement with the center goes back to its roots. In the late 1990s she, along with her friend — Stanford GSB alumna and lecturer Laura Arrillaga, MBA ’97 — lobbied for the school to start executive programs for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders.
“The area of nonprofit management, while it doesn’t sound very sexy, is critical to the success of this whole domain,” says Ford Dorsey. “People who are leaders have to have the skills to envision ideas and put together an organization that can execute them.”
Social entrepreneurship is another area that resonates with Ford Dorsey and her family. Her stepson, Stanford undergraduate Jonathan Dorsey, took the course Social Entrepreneurship from Stanford GSB lecturer Rick Aubry, a CSI fellow regarded as one of the leading social entrepreneurs in the country. Jonathan Dorsey’s interest in the field stemmed from a trip he made to Zambia in 2005 to work with a nonprofit organization conducting AIDS education. The experience inspired him to co-found a nonprofit organization working on HIV/AIDS prevention and care in Africa.
The center represents a cornerstone of Stanford GSB’s multidisciplinary approach to management and leadership education — in particular for those who are working to create social and environmental value. Through the establishment of the Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow/Scholar Award, she is fueling an area of personal passion — social innovation — as well as enabling the school to honor outstanding senior faculty and to encourage rising stars among junior faculty members.