Jenny Harms, a graduate of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business from Shawano, WI, and Tom Strong, who graduated from The University of Arizona's Eller College of Management and hails from New York, NY, won in a rigorous selection process for the fellowship.
"I am committed to a career in socially-minded business," Harms said. "I believe strongly that the private sector has great potential to create profound and everlasting positive change. "
Added Strong, "I have come to understand that the analytical tools used by large businesses could bring additional, lasting impact to community-based work. That's what inspired me to pursue and achieve my MBA."
Both Harms and Strong will conduct research and lead special projects to advance the Foundation's new five-year strategic plan. The plan promotes business models and efforts that forward societal wellbeing — particularly in creating opportunities for the working poor and near poor. The Mita Fellows will join the Foundation staff for seven months.
Harms' work on her MBA includes a concentration in social entrepreneurship, and she has worked with Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, and the HIP Investor, Inc. Strong's degree includes a concentration in entrepreneurship and he, along with three classmates, founded the startup company 50 Mile Farms with a mission of producing environmentally sustainable and locally grown vegetables for institutional buyers. Harms and Strong were awarded their MBA in May of 2008.
The Mita Business in Society Fellowship was made possible by a generous gift from the family of the late Hitachi, Ltd. Chairman and founding Honorary Chair of The Hitachi Foundation, Katsushige Mita. The mission of the fellowship — grounded as it is in the advancement of business and societal partnership — carries on the philosophy of leadership advanced by Mr. Mita. Taking command of Hitachi, Ltd. at a time when relations between the United States and Japan were strained, Mr. Mita helped shape a new definition for global corporate citizenship.