The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


Social Impact Leaders Receiving Loan Forgiveness Awards in 2023

The ESG Initiative is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund for Public Service.

These 11 Bendheim Fellows are examples of Wharton alumni who are using their business acumen in finance, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, and more to solve the world’s most pressing issues. This year’s fellows include leaders in impact investing, social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, education, and government.

Created in 2005 by John Bendheim, W’40, and his son Tom, WG/Lauder’90, and managed by the ESG Initiative, the loan forgiveness fund has awarded over $2.45 million to 120+ alumni. These Bendheim Fellows are representative of the growing community of Wharton alumni engaged in the business of social impact.

The funding decisions are made by a committee composed of Wharton representatives (ESG Initiative, MBA Career Management, Wharton MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Wharton San Francisco, and the Wharton Executive MBA program) and Bendheim Fellows–previous recipients of Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Awards.

The recipients for this year include the following social impact leaders:

Raphael Yayra Awuku smiling in blue suit and white button down in front of white wall.

Raphael Yayra Awuku graduated in 2018 with an MBA in Business Economics and Public Policy. Currently, he is an investment officer at the International Finance Corporation, the private investment arm of the World Bank Group. At IFC, he works on impact-oriented private credit investments in financial institutions in developing countries, including financial technology companies that are expanding financial inclusion to individuals and credit to SMEs.

Tréne Hawkins smiling in a red and black floral blazer against a terra-cotta colored wall.

Trené Hawkins is a 2020 WEMBA graduate. In her role as Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Trené leads key initiatives to advance economic inclusion for family wellbeing and support the adoption of more equitable practices within philanthropy.

Evan Holownia smiling in a white button down, orange tie, and navy blue suit against a dark background.

Evan Holownia completed his MBA in 2020 with a concentration in Strategic Management. As a Senior Associate at Blue Meridian Partners, Evan invests in scaling evidence-based human services organizations to meet big social problems with right-sized solutions.

Brittney Jean-Louis smiling and talking in a black and white striped blazer over a white button down in front of a wall of windows.

Brittney Jean-Louis completed her EMBA in 2020. She currently leads expansion projects for high-performing K-12 schools in an effort to offer more high-quality educational opportunities in low-income communities.

Richard Merino smiling in a red and black plaid button down against a cream wall.

Richard Merino earned his MBA in Marketing in 2019. He is a bilingual special education public school teacher with the NYC Department of Education, teaching math to English language learners and students with disabilities.

Dan Petty smiling in a blue button down and dark grey suit in front of a grey background.

Dan Petty completed his MBA at Wharton in 2022 with majors in finance and strategic management. He is the director of audience strategy at ProPublica, a non-profit news organization that investigates abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust. He leads a team focused on growing the reach of the organization’s journalism.

Elizabeth Saunders in a black turtleneck and blue jacket smiling outside in front of a brick building and a tree with orange leaves during the fall.

Elizabeth Saunders received her MBA in Marketing and Operations in 2020. She is currently an Operations Manager at Newsela, an educational technology company focused on driving meaningful classroom learning for K-12 students through authentic, engaging, and diverse supplemental content.

Suzanne Shaw smiling in a red blouse in front of a cream wall.

Suzanne Shaw earned her MBA in Finance in 2020. She is an Infrastructure Sector Economist and Project Team Leader in Investment Operations at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is committed to improving social and economic outcomes in Asia and worldwide by investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors.

Ashley Sogge smiling in a white blouse and brown pants outside in front of foliage.

Ashley Sogge is a 2021 MBA graduate who concentrated in Finance and Management. She is the Chief Operating Officer for Honor the Promise, a non-profit committed to resettling Afghan refugees in the U.S. and supporting their workforce and community integration.

Michael Wong smiling in a black tuxedo, white button down, black bowtie, and red flower outside in front of foliage.

Michael Wong earned his Executive MBA from Wharton in 2022, majoring in Finance, and is the Senior Advisor for Policy & Strategy to U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). In this role, he serves as Senator Sinema’s top economic advisor, her lead staffer on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and an in-house management consultant dedicated to helping the organization advance its mission and better serve Arizonans.

Shawn Yavari smiling in a red sweater over a white button down in front of a tree.

Shawn Yavari is a 2020 MBA graduate who concentrated in Business, Energy, Environment, and Sustainability at Wharton and International Studies at the Lauder Institute. He is currently a Chief of Staff as part of the Global Rotational Development Program at CMA CGM, the third-largest global shipping/logistics company with a strong commitment to sustainability and decarbonization. 2021 through April 2022, he managed electric vehicle demonstration projects at Con Edison, New York’s largest utility company.