More than 250 Columbia Business School alumni and friends gathered at a private club on the Upper East Side last week for the second annual Tamer Center for Social Enterprise Awards Breakfast, which raised a record-breaking $1 million in support of the center’s curriculum and initiatives and honored Shaiza Rizavi ’96 and her husband, Jon Friedland ’97, for their commitment to social enterprise at the School and throughout New York City.
“The Tamer Center network is part of what makes this program so impactful. Jon Friedland and Shaiza Rizavi are the true embodiment of that network and the support that makes the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise unique,” said Bruce Usher, professor of professional practice and Elizabeth B. Strickler ’86 and Mark T. Gallogly ’86 Faculty Director, who co-directs the Tamer Center with Damon Phillips, the Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise. “Alumni like Shaiza and Jon make me proud to be part of the Columbia University community.”
Usher then presented Rizavi and Friedland with the Horton Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a passion for social or environmental causes and have used their management skills to benefit society. The award was named for Professor Raymond Horton, founder of the School’s Social Enterprise Program.
Rizavi, a partner at brokerage firm Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., was honored for her work with entrepreneurship-focused students and alumni and her vast experience with nonprofits and social ventures. She is a member of the Tamer Center Advisory Board, the Investment Board of the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, and the Board of Overseers for the School. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History, the Calhoun School, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, as well as on the Board of Directors of Acumen.
“Those who will lead us through the evolutions to come will think in new terms, speak in new languages, be able to imagine a world undefined by buckets or boundaries or borders. The future leaders will understand that growth can be found in any corridor and will hunt and try and keep going until they find it,” Rizavi said. “As illustrated so beautifully today, the Tamer Center is a life spring of the type of learning that forms exactly those types of leaders. [My hope is] that we leave this room and commit ourselves in a fresh and urgent way so that we might ... do more together than we ever thought we could do individually. With immeasurable gratitude to all of those who have shown up to give and to receive, we say thank you. Thank you so much.”
Friedland, president of private investment firm Seven Turns LLC, is also dedicated to the vast world of nonprofit organizations and supports causes such as environmental advocacy and education reform. He has participated in the center’s Nonprofit Board Leadership Program (NBLP) for the past five years, providing mentorship to students and guidance to the nonprofits that participate in the program. Friedland serves on the Global Leadership Council of the Natural Resources Defense Council and sits on the board of Classroom, Inc.
“Columbia Business School and Columbia University are blessed with more energy, creativity, and resources than anybody could hope for. On the other hand, we know that the community and that the world around Columbia contains so many pockets of need, pollution, injustice, and strife,” said Friedland. “The Tamer Center is such a beautiful thing because it provides a way for the Columbia community to take its unique talents and make those a part of the solution. For that, I am so glad to be here.”
The event also featured remarks from Damon Phillips, breakfast co-chair Mona Sinha ’93, and four alumni in the social-enterprise space: Shoshanah Brown ’04, executive director of A.I.R. NYC, which provides health and education services for asthmatic children and adults; Donnel Baird ’13, founder of BlocPower, a startup that markets and finances the installation of sustainable and energy-efficient technologies in small business and nonprofits in underserved communities; Cai Steger ’08, director of Energy Efficiency for All, an initiative at the National Resources Defense Council that aims to make multi-family homes more energy efficient and thereby affordable; and Manmeet Kaur ’12, executive director and founder of City Health Works, which provides personalized health coaching and care coordination for patients living with chronic illnesses.
“Shaiza and Jon’s commitment to the social sector, their long-term view as well as their passion, makes their business acumen particularly powerful for my colleagues and for many of the individuals that [they’ve] mentored or supported,” said Kaur, who thanked the honorees for inspiring “each of us with your interest, your motivation, your passion for our potential and our work, and for your contribution to this sector. I look forward to continuing to learn alongside you both.”
Current student Christopher McVety ’17 also took the stage to speak about his positive experience with Tamer’s NBLP, noting that he plans to apply to the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures this fall to help finance a new venture he’s working on: an application-based program to speed the recovery of stroke victims. “Hearing today’s alumni stories has reinforced just how much CBS and the Tamer Center are doing to spark and continually support startups such as this, which is why I’m very much looking forward to staying closely involved with the Tamer Center community as we move forward with this venture and [as I move forward] in my career,” he said.
The second annual Tamer Center for Social Enterprise Awards Breakfast was co-chaired by Norman Benzaquen ’72, Patrick Duff ’84, Philippa ’90 and Larry Portnoy, and Mona ’93 and Ravi Sinha. The $1 million raised at the event will support many of the Tamer Center’s initiatives, including its curriculum, the NBLP, Loan Assistance Program, Pangea Advisors pro bono consulting club, Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program, Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, Climate Change and Business Program, Columbia Scholarship Program for Displaced Persons, and Re-Entry Acceleration Program.