Dorsey Earns Sanford Leadership Award

Alison Dorsey, a senior from Woodside, Calif., graduating with a degree in public policy studies, is the winner of this year’s Terry Sanford Leadership Award for her contributions to Duke and the Durham Community.

As a sophomore, Dorsey enrolled in Professor Tony Brown’s course in social entrepreneurship. Her team project was the creation of the Durham Community Consulting (DCC), a program to train undergraduates to provide Durham nonprofits with planning, program evaluation, and other support services. Even after completing the course requirements, Dorsey continued working over the next two years to take DCC into the community.

“She exercised real team leadership in this project,” Brown said. “She has a great ‘can do’ attitude, she was a source of positive energy, and she delivers real results.”

Her project advisor, Sam Miglarese, director of community engagement for the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, said, “Alison’s dedication to the community as well as to her fellow students has been truly an amazing thing to witness. Her drive, passion, compassion, and determination in the face of challenge serve her well.”

When DukeEngage was launched, Dorsey helped make DCC one of the first DukeEngage-funded projects, and the only student-led project ever funded by the program. The summer programs she helped create included an intensive weeklong training session led by volunteers from Duke faculty and staff.

Dorsey’s completed her public policy internship with Ashoka, a leading organization in support of social entrepreneurs. She also helped organize a panel of speakers at Ashoka’s office in Washington, D.C., for DukeEngage students involved in the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative’s summer program.

In her senior year, Dorsey transitioned out of the leadership of DCC, but remained involved as a mentor. She also served as a teaching assistant in the social entrepreneurship course that inspired DCC and was instrumental in helping shape and support a new course on entrepreneurial leadership and social innovation.  She also was a significant contributor to an effort under way to help establish Durham as a hub for social innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability. She plans to return to Durham after graduation to help continue these efforts. 

“Alison is the type of graduate that Duke students should aspire to become – and typifies the ideals of Terry Sanford,” said Christopher Gergen, director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative (ELI) of the Hart Leadership Program. “She is a truly innovative thinker who brings sharp problem-solving to some of our community’s toughest challenges. Our world is going to be a better place because of Alison’s leadership.”