Social Innovation Fellowship

The Social Innovation Fellowship at ASU is designed to engage early- and mid-career policy-makers, analysts, technologists, engineers, researchers, communicators, writers, designers and leaders in generating and advancing big ideas in service of ASU's Charter and our office's mission to expand access to educational and economic opportunity. 

As part of the Office of Applied Innovation, Fellows work entrepreneurially across ASU to advance projects and partnerships at ASU and with our communities. Learn more about our team here.

What Fellows Do

Over 13 months, fellows will develop their own diverse project portfolio, leveraging a collaborative mindset and comprehensive skill set that helps them identify and apply emerging scientific, technological, policy and design innovations to expand access to educational and economic opportunity. 


Identify pressing issues

Fellows pay attention to trends at ASU, in Arizona, and across the nation to identify problems on which they want to work and where Applied Innovation can add value.

Transform ideas into action

Fellows learn from and contribute to a set of tools, mindsets and practices that help our team create actionable, successful initiatives.


Connect with a dynamic network

Fellows work collaboratively with influential changemakers in higher education and the community, including a growing base of fellowship alumni.

Collaborate across boundaries

Fellows are part of an interdisciplinary team that recognizes the significance of higher education’s place at the nexus of economic, social and political forces. They work at that intersection, building partnerships and cross-sector collaborations across the university and the community.

Influence decisions through calculated research

Fellows lead research and analysis projects to bolster our knowledge of complex social challenges. They also leverage and enhance their writing skills through rapid development of research write-ups and grant proposals to advance new ideas and initiatives.


Discover high impact career pathways

Fellows are supported personally and professionally as they advance in careers based on transformative thinking around access to education and economic opportunity. They also have opportunities to learn from subject matter experts and other professionals in the areas they are most passionate about.


In response to local, state, or national issues, fellows design, build and launch their own new initiatives and partnerships, collaborate with university leaders, and support institutional innovation.

Fellows spend a significant amount of their time working semi-autonomously or in partnership with one another to develop their own portfolio of projects during the fellowship. They identify problems and opportunities, conduct background research and partnership development, and design and initiate their own projects and programs with plans for transitioning them to a sustainable, permanent home at ASU or beyond. Fellows provide our office and ASU with the expanded capacity, diverse perspectives, and dedicated time and space required for constant ideation, incubation, and iteration. The fellowship’s central positioning at ASU allows for the flexibility to pursue ideas and partnerships that span the enterprise at all levels.

Fellows have previously worked on a wide range of projects, including:

    • Supported community college partners in developing clear pathways to ASU for students served by correspondence courses for those currently incarcerated.
    • Explored technology-enabled platforms to enhance and scale support programs that lead to student success, especially for low-income and first-generation college students.
    • Developed professional education offering to develop cross-sector leaders able to effectively tackle complex societal challenges.

    How Fellows Work

    Fellows work within a distinct entrepreneurial and collaborative office culture; they spend time gaining a better understanding of the role of higher education institutions in serving their communities, as well as developing and advancing innovative new ideas at a rapid pace. In addition, fellows consistently meet and collaborate with ASU students, faculty, staff, and community members to learn more about needs and opportunities within the university and community.


    The fellowship is a full-time position (40+ hours per week) with a competitive salary starting at $55,000 and upwards, commensurate with experience. Additional university benefits include health insurance, generous vacation and sick leave, paid holidays and reduced tuition. View additional benefits here.

    Eligibility and Qualifications

    Applications for the Social Innovation Fellowship are invited from those who:

    • Are authorized to work in the United States (Applicants must be either a citizen of the United States or be able to maintain work authorization throughout the fellowship. Arizona State University does not offer visa sponsorship to candidates for the fellowship program.)
    • Are able to commit for the entire duration of the program from August 9, 2021 – September 2, 2022.

    Successful Candidates

    The Office of Applied Innovation seeks candidates with a passion for improving the well-being of the communities around them and who wish to apply their unique talents to advance Arizona State University’s charter and the institution’s goals of expanding access to educational and economic opportunity. Successful candidates will exhibit the following qualities:

    • Ability to quickly establish working relationships, making connections between people, groups, ideas and organizations;
    • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills;
    • Entrepreneurial spirit, self-directed, and comfortable with proposing one’s own priorities;
    • Teamwork-orientation and a willingness to learn through collaboration;
    • Experience identifying problems and designing and launching related initiatives;
    • Creative problem-solving skills, learning agility and ability to adapt to change;
    • Comfort working with emerging technologies and their economic/social implications;
    • Experience in making adjustments to project strategy and implementation;
    • Capacity to perform in a fast-paced environment;
    • Superior academic achievement.

    Desired Qualifications

    • Completed any graduate program within the last 7 years or graduating in Spring 2021.

    How to Apply


    Please review the full application instructions here. The deadline for 2022 will be shared in Feb./March 2022.

    Step 1: Create a single Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) document that includes the following components in this order:

    1. Cover letter that addresses your interest in the fellowship. Your cover letter must address your interest in our Office and in Arizona State University. Your cover letter should also highlight examples of how you exhibit the qualities listed in the “Eligibility and Qualifications” section above.

    2. Resume, including employment listed in month/year format (e.g. August 2005-July 2008), job title, job duties/accomplishments and name of employing organization for each position. Education should include the month and year each academic degree was received. If the degree has not yet been earned, list the anticipated graduation date. 

    3. Contact information for three professional references, including name, phone number and email address for each.

    4. Response, in writing, to the following prompt: Describe a compelling example of how scientific, technological, policy, and/or design innovations have been used to induce positive social outcomes; examples can be from your personal or professional experience, or those you’ve observed. (Limit response to 300 words or fewer).

    5. Writing sample demonstrating your skill in writing, critical thinking, analysis and synthesis of ideas/information (please limit writing sample to 10 pages or fewer).

    Step 2: Email your completed application to with the subject "2022 Fellowship Application" by the deadline. Please name your PDF with the following convention: "Last Name_First Name_Fellowship Application"

    Be sure to remember application materials should clearly exhibit the qualifications listed in the “Eligibility and Qualifications” section above.

    Step 3: Complete the required Fellowship in Social Innovation form.

    This form is required to complete your Fellowship application. This form will be emailed to you after you complete Steps 1 and 2.


    The following 2022 timeline is meant to provide a general idea of our typical process and is subject to change.

    • Late April- Fellowship Applications Due
    • May-June - First and Second Round Interviews
    • Late June - Offers Extended
    • August 8 - Fellowship Start Date 


    Throughout the year, fellows participate in a myriad of projects that vary greatly in purpose and outcome. Through these varied experiences, fellows develop a diverse portfolio, a collaborative mindset and a comprehensive skill set that heightens their career opportunities. Many fellows leverage this experience to create new positions that fill a gap at ASU or another institution.

    Immediately following the Fellowship program, alumni held roles such as:

    • Director, Social Embeddedness, ASU
    • Assistant Director, Education for Humanity, ASU
    • Human Factors Specialist, IDEO, A Design and Innovation Consulting Firm
    • Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, ASU
    • Assistant Chief of Staff, ASU Foundation for a New American University
    • Entrepreneurship Catalyst, Office of University Initiatives, ASU
    • Manager, Sustainability Initiatives and Programs, Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU
    • Manager of Public Partnerships, Teach For America, Phoenix

    Caroline Dunn-Rankin

    MEd in Higher Education, Harvard University
    BA in English; Religion, Vassar College


    Pauline Nalumansi

    MA in Global Affairs and Management, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University
    BA in Accountancy, Arizona State University

    Christina Ngo

    Christina Ngo

    MBA, Arizona State University
    MEd in Secondary Education, Arizona State University
    BA in Sociology, University of Texas in Austin

    Michelle Sullivan Govani

    Michelle Sullivan Govani

    Ph.D. Biology, Science Policy, Arizona State University
    MSc in Biology, Arizona State University
    BS in Biology, University of Iowa

    Jed Greenberg

    Jed Greenberg

    MPA, Brown University
    BA, Oberlin College & University of Massachusetts

    Michelle Villegas Gold

    Michelle Villegas-Gold

    PhD, Global Health, Arizona State University
    MPH, New York University
    Master in Counseling, Arizona State University
    BA in Psychology, University of Arizona

    Lukas Wenrick

    Lukas Wenrick

    EdM in Higher Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    BA in Social Science Education, Wright State University

    Andrew Nelson

    Andrew Nelson

    EdD, Leadership and Innovation, Arizona State University
    MEd in Secondary Education and Teaching, Arizona State University

    Post Fellowship: Program Manager, Strategic Network Advancement, Office of University Initiatives

    Aya Waller Bey

    Aya Waller-Bey

    MPhil, Education, University of Cambridge
    BA in Sociology, Georgetown University

    Post Fellowship: Doctoral Student in Sociology, University of Michigan

    Joanna Zimmerman

    Joanna Zimmerman

    EdM in Technology & Innovation in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    BA in Social Anthropology, Harvard University
    BA in Economics, Harvard University

    Post Fellowship: Assistant Director, Education for Humanity, EdPlus, ASU

    Tunga Lodato

    Tunga Lodato

    MA, Journalism
    BA, Political Science

    Post Fellowship: Assistant Director, Office of University Initiatives, ASU

    Tamara Webb

    Tamara Webb

    EdD, International Education Development and Policy Studies
    MPA (no concentration)
    MA, Anthropology and Education
    BA, Interdisciplinary Studies

    Post Fellowship: Assistant Director of Global Freshman Academy, EdPlus, ASU

    Lindsey Beagley

    Lindsey Beagley

    MPA, Nonprofit Management
    BS, Psychology
    BA, Spanish

    Post Fellowship: Director of Social Embeddedness, Office of University Initiatives, ASU

    Ted Cross

    Ted Cross

    EdD, Organizational Leadership
    MsEd, Urban Education
    MA, English
    BA, English

    Post Fellowship: Deputy Chief of Staff, EdPlus, ASU

    Brittney Paulk

    Brittney Paulk

    MPA, Nonprofit Management
    BS, Public Health, Health Care Administration

    Post Fellowship: Fellow, University Innovation Alliance, ASU

    Madison Sandy

    Madison Sandy

    PhD, Sociology
    MA, Sociology
    BA, Sociology

    Post Fellowship: Postdoctoral Research Associate, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU

    Ray Andrada

    Ray Andrada

    MA, Political Science
    BA, Political Science

    Post Fellowship: Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, ASU

    Michael Meaney

    Michael Meaney

    MEd, Secondary Education
    BS, International Politics

    Post Fellowship: Project Manager, Educationa nd Workforce Innovation, Office of University Initatives, ASU

    Bethany Weigele

    Bethany Weigele

    PhD, Molecular Microbiology
    BS, Chemistry

    Post Fellowship: Director, Lifelong Learning Initiatives, Office of University Initiatives, ASU

    Trevor Eagle

    MS, Educational Organization and Leadership
    BA, Psychology

    Post Fellowship: Program Manager, Financial Aid and Scholarship Services, ASU

    Jessica Eldridge

    MEd, Education
    BS, Economics and Marketing

    Post Fellowship: Manager of Public Service Initiatives, College of
    Public Programs and Office of University Initiatives

    Terah Crews

    MEd, Higher Education
    MA, History
    BA, Psychology and History

    Post Fellowship: Assistant Chief of Staff, ASU Foundation for A New American University

    Melanie Reilly

    MEd, Education
    BA, Literature

    Post Fellowship: Fellow, Education Outreach and Student Services, ASU

    Hayfa Aboukier

    MEd, Elementary Education
    BS, Recreation, Sport and Tourism Management 

    Post Fellowship: Manager, Sustainability Initiatives and Programs,
    Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU

    Ed Finn

    PhD, English and American Literature
    BA, Comparative Literature

    Post Fellowship: Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, ASU

    Daniil Gunitskiy

    MEd, Secondary Education
    BA, Political Science and History

    Post Fellowship: Manager of Public Partnerships, Teach For America, Phoenix

    Alicia Fremling

    MS, Education
    BA, Political Science and Spanish

    Post Fellowship: Fellow, Washington, D.C., Office of the President, ASU

    Nikki Gusz

    MEd, Secondary Education
    BA, American Studies

    Post Fellowship: Innovation Developer, Office of University Initiatives, ASU

    “The University Innovation Fellowship provides an ecosystem where you can consider the biggest challenges
    in education--and actually do something about them! When you're at a dynamic place like Arizona State University,
    you develop the ability to take risks and make a difference. You learn how to change the world around you.”

    Audrey Iffert

    MA, Communication
    BA, Communication 

    Post Fellowship: Entrepreneur Catalyst, Office of University Initiatives, ASU

    Maggie McGannon

    MEd, Education
    BA, Political Science and Philosophy 

    Post Fellowship: Law student, University of North Carolina School of Law

    Chris Meierling

    MSD, Design Research
    BSD, Industrial Design

    Post Fellowship: Human Factors Specialist, IDEO

    Samantha Miller

    MA, Interdisciplinary Studies
    BA, English

    Post Fellowship: High School English Teacher, Kelley Educational Services

    Jacqueline Smith

    Doctor of Law (JD)
    BA, Mathematics and Economics 

    Post Fellowship: Director of Social Embeddedness, Office of University Initiatives, ASU