One of the six core values of Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 is Give Back to Others. It’s a value long exemplified by Babson’s alumni—during good times and, especially notable this year, during the most challenging times. The alumni are the backbone of the College, and they step up again and again to share their time, talent, and treasure with the entire Babson community. Here are just a few alumni who make Babson better by giving back:
Dan Wheelock MBA’15: Building a Network
“Babson people are ditch diggers—they’re kings and queens of chaos,” says Dan Wheelock MBA’15, president of the Babson Alumni Club of Boston. “They’re not afraid to break ground, try new things, and get their hands dirty.”
Members of the Babson community, Wheelock says, always are prepared to solve unsolvable problems and turn them into something good. This was true even as the pandemic struck. “The entire College pivoted quickly, had strong top-down leadership, and was impressively proactive, never reactive,” he says.
When he first arrived on campus as a graduate student, Wheelock was surprised that so many people at Babson were willing to help others without expecting anything in return. He believes that is what sets the Babson community apart, and is why he decided to stay involved, years after graduating.
The current board of the Babson Alumni Club of Boston celebrated its three-year anniversary in November, and Wheelock says that’s thanks to the group of 10 Babson alumni who have worked hard to form this network and keep people involved. In addition to Wheelock, the group includes Tamer Azar MBA’15, Dustan Bonnin MBA’08, Elizabeth Holmes ’16, Alvaro Ortega Sebastian MBA’15, Sara Parker C’19, Dana Heritage Testa MBA’16, Vanessa Theoharis ’10, Anjali Wali ’09, and Erica Zahka MBA’16.
When the group first started building the Babson Alumni Club of Boston, Wheelock reached out to one of his former Babson teachers, Professor Kevin Mulcahy, for advice. “I called him up and said, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing. Will you come to our first meeting?’ ” Wheelock recalls. Fortunately, Mulcahy accepted and helped to set the foundation for the group’s mission. Since that day, Mulcahy has attended nearly every club event and continues to offer mentorship and a helping hand. That’s what the Alumni Club is all about.
“Whenever I meet anyone from Babson, I don’t know what I’m going to get, but I know it’s going to be good. I’ve never been bored with a conversation with anyone from Babson.”
Dan Wheelock MBA'15, president, Babson Alumni Club of Boston
The club’s first event was the Business of Vice, which included a panel on the business side of marijuana, gambling, and alcohol. Creative events such as that help keep alumni engaged, but the ultimate purpose of the club is to help former Babson students make connections with one another, while learning about the amazing things their fellow alumni are doing in their careers and the community.
“Whenever I meet anyone from Babson, I don’t know what I’m going to get, but I know it’s going to be good,” Wheelock says. “I’ve never been bored with a conversation with anyone from Babson.”
Over the past three years, the club has hosted two dozen events that engaged more than 2,500 alumni and friends of the College, ranging from the Class of 1960 to the Class of 2023.
Since going remote in March, the club has focused on initiatives such as care packages for incoming and returning students to make the “new normal” feel a little more familiar.
When asked what his advice is for students who are experiencing this new normal, he says, “Ambiguity is your wheelhouse. Go do something amazing and bring Babson with you.”
Sharlene Sones ’86: Leading by Example
“I was given a great gift, and I feel a responsibility to give back,” Sharlene Sones ’86 says when describing the sacrifices her parents made to ensure she could attend Babson.
Her father faced challenges as a paraplegic, but he went to work every day to provide for his family. Sones’ parents set an example of quiet leadership and selflessness, which she strives to emulate throughout her life and career. The values they instilled in her—along with the lessons she learned at Babson about the importance of creating change—are what motivate Sones to stay involved.
As an active member of the Babson Alumni Advisory Board (BAAB), Sones helps other alumni stay connected, no matter where they are. She’s also the chair of the Babson Alumni Supporting Entrepreneurs (BASE) leadership team, volunteering her time and insight to students and alumni. “It makes me want to be better,” she says. “I always leave feeling motivated to raise my own game.”
During her career in branding, while working with notable sports brands, Sones noticed that many female athletes have trouble transitioning after their playing careers. She saw women struggle with their identities and finances, and wanted to help them.
Then, while building a house for Habitat for Humanity, Sones met fellow alumna Bethany Yeasted Dufour ’05. She realized that Dufour’s background in executive coaching could help bridge the gap in how female athletes should be supported, and they ignited the concept for The Next Play, a program that provides resources to help female athletes translate the confidence and skills they learn in their sport into their careers and lives. Babson Athletics helped them run a pilot to get their passion project started, and then the program grew to work with athletes through the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Once again, Sones felt the support, encouragement, and generosity of the Babson community.
“You never have to ask Babson people for anything,” she says. “It’s in their DNA to automatically start finding ways to help.”
Meet More Alumni Who Give Back
Isabella Cagnazzo ’97 and Alfredo Fonseca ’97
Married couple Alfredo Fonseca and Isabella Cagnazzo are the co-presidents of the Babson Alumni Club of Costa Rica. Fonseca also is the founder of Intercultura Costa Rica, a company dedicated to providing quality and accessible international programs to Central American youth since 2002; Cagnazzo is the business development manager for Central America at Temenos, a leading banking software provider.
Q: Why do you give back to Babson?
A: Babson holds a special place in both of our lives. Not only is it the place where we met, but it’s also the place that has given us many meaningful friendships across the globe, and the place that made us give the best of ourselves during challenging times. Babson is more than a school; it’s a community, a way of life.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve done as Babson volunteers?
A: We asked Babson to support the Babson Alumni Club of Costa Rica some years ago. We envision a club that is a catalyst of change, bringing together the innovative Babson community and delivering entrepreneurial actions that will spread Babson’s vision.
James Kibera Kibinge ’91
James Kibera Kibinge is experienced in advising the public sector, and he currently is a senior partner at True North Investments (TN.i), which specializes in financial technology.
Q: Why do you give back to Babson?
A: Babson is so special to me. I loved the idea of adding value, making my own way, and going against the tide. Babson showed me how.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve done as a Babson volunteer?
A: As Black Student Union vice chairman, I approached President Bill Glavin and said, “Given the challenges of our community, it would be impossible to increase numbers of Black, African American, African, and Caribbean students unless there was a specific scholarship program to aid their presence in the College.” He accepted our arguments and launched a scholarship program.
Q: What is your advice to current Babson students?
A: Just get going. It’s easier than you think.
2020 Volunteer Leadership Awards
At “Not Quite” Back to Babson in September, the College honored those who have gone above and beyond during the 2020 Volunteer Leadership Awards ceremony. With deep gratitude, Babson offers a heartfelt congratulations to the winners:
Cruickshank Alumni Leadership Award
Stephen Martiros ’83, MBA’85, P’21 ’21, Babson College Advisory Board Member
Richard J. Snyder Distinguished Service to the College Award
Deborah L. De Santis ’85, Babson Board of Trustees Member
Distinguished Recent Alumni Award
Juan Mazo C. MBA’13
Jillian Page Smith-Lakow ’12
Daniel S. Wheelock MBA’15, Babson Alumni Advisory Board Member
Joseph R. Weintraub Alumni Award for Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Service
Virginia E. Soybel
John H. Muller Jr. Parent Leadership Award
Richard Nohelty MBA’92, P’18 ’21
Adelaide Van Winkle Friend of the College Award
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