Cheryl Kiser Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Education

Cheryl Kiser, the founding executive director of the Institute for Social Innovation at Babson College, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Education on December 8 at the Vibha Ray of Light Gala in Westford, Massachusetts. The celebration was hosted by Vibha, a nonprofit committed to increasing the learning levels in public elementary schools in India. 

Cheryl Kiser poses for a photo with Ashwini Kumar and Sonu Sood
Cheryl Kiser (center) displays her Lifetime Achievement Award for Education alongside Vibha CEO Ashwini Kumar (left) and Indian actor and humanitarian Sonu Sood.

Kiser was honored for her immense contributions to the social impact and education landscape, including her visionary leadership at the Institute for Social Innovation and for her commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 

Kiser has always worked at the intersection of business and society. Early in her career, while earning her master’s degree in social policy and social work, she worked at the start of the Employee Assistance Movement. She then worked in the Work-Life Movement through her role at Work Family Directions. When her career led her to academia, where she has worked for the past 26 years, she was influential in growing the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement, first at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and now at the Babson College’s Institute for Social Innovation. 

Headshot of Cheryl Kiser
Cheryl Kiser, executive director of the Institute for Social Innovation

“I have been steeped in the work of social innovation for decades and am thrilled to identify Cheryl Kiser as the most ‘wired’ member of the academic community I have ever met,” said Leonard Schlesinger H’14, Babson’s president emeritus who hired her to launch the institute. “Beyond her deep networks, she brings immense energy and curiosity to opportunities that emerge from her interactions with others. She virtually singlehandedly developed an institutional reputation for Babson—engaged faculty, students, companies, and outside friends in innovative and substantive social innovation projects, authored a book, and represented the school on a global scale. This award is quite appropriate recognition of the reach of her activities in the field of education.” 

Babson Professor Heidi Neck, the leading authority on entrepreneurship education, agrees. “Cheryl has worked her entire career to fuse social impact and education. She is ensuring that the current generation knows how to solve the world’s most pressing problems and why they must lead the charge and be agents of their own change. Mindsets of the past cannot be used to fix the present and create the future,” said Neck, the Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies. “I cannot think of anyone else more deserving of this recognition.” 

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