Social Entrepreneur, Author Becca Stevens to Speak at Mercer

February 1, 2012

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or vanderhoek_m@mercer.edu

MACON — Priest, author and social entrepreneur The Rev. Becca Stevens will speak at Mercer University on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Medical School Auditorium on the Macon campus. The event is sponsored by the University’s Social Entrepreneurship Program and will also serve to launch the program’s new student organization, Bear Garage.

The Bear Garage will serve as an incubator for social entrepreneurs from the Central Georgia community, as well as the University. Students and advisers will work with the entrepreneurs to incubate business ideas that stress triple-bottom line results, or positive impacts for people, planet and profits, said Dr. Thomas Glennon, professor and director of the Social Entrepreneurship Program.

“We’re thrilled to have a social change agent of The Rev. Stevens’ caliber to be here to help us launch our new initiative,” Dr. Glennon said. “She is an amazing social entrepreneur and she models everything we would hope our program’s students will become.”

Stevens is an Episcopal priest serving as chaplain at St Augustine’s at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, a community and social enterprise that stands with women recovering from violence, prostitution, addiction and life on the streets. Magdalene, the residential model, serves women for two years at no cost to residents. Thistle Farms employs 35 residents and graduates who manufacture, market and sell all natural bath and beauty products in more than 200 retail stores across the globe.

Stevens and several of the Thistles Farms employees will be in attendance at her speech to share their stories and to sell their products.

Most recently, the White House named Stevens as one of its 15 “Champions of Change.” She was named the 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the year in Nashville, and has received awards from the Frist Foundation and the Academy of Women of Achievement. Stevens is the author of eight books and has been featured on NPR, PBS, CNN, Huffington Post, Southern Living, Christian Century and Victoria Magazine. She was named “Nashvillian of the Year” and “Tennessean of the Year” by the Nashville Scene and The Tennessean, respectively. In 2010, she became the youngest and first female recipient of The University of the South’s “Distinguished Alumnus” award. To date, she has raised more than $13 million for the organizations she supports.

Mercer’s Social Entrepreneurship Program is a concentration in the College of Liberal Arts. The Bachelor of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship began this fall and is a new trans-disciplinary academic- and service-oriented program. It provides students with the values, academic training and skill sets necessary for the creation and management of public service organizations, including businesses that put social or environmental concerns above profit, as well as more traditional non-profits and religious organizations.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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