Debra Pallatto Fontaine
Executive Director for Global Initiatives at Becker College in Worcester, MA
Debra is responsible for all global projects, globalizing the curriculum, planning and leading service learning trips for students, managing the Center for Global Citizenship and directing the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College (the only Yunus Centre in the country). She also coordinates and teaches in the Women’s Emergent Leadership Institute. Debra has been at Becker for the last 20 years.
Prior to this position, Debra taught courses in teacher education, psychology, and global studies while coordinating global citizenship programming. She developed a minor, concentration, and a B.A. in Global Citizenship, the only such degree in the U.S.
Debra developed a partnership with the Be Like Brit Orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti where she leads student trips annually. In addition, as director of training, she travels to Haiti quarterly offering professional development to day and evening staff at the orphanage, coordinating long-term volunteers, and teaching social entrepreneurship.
She regularly presents at professional conferences, most recently at the AIEA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. (February 2017) and the Social Business Academia Conference in Paris (November 2016).
Debra has served as a short-term mission volunteer through Global Ministries, UCC, for the past 15 years in China, South Korea, and Ghana.
Highlight Project: Yunus Social Business Centre at Becker College
Social business addresses economic, societal, and environmental needs while generating sustainable resources to alleviate poverty and unemployment. All profits in the social business are invested back into the business for the common good, not profit maximization. Investors help others without personal financial gain.
In 2015, Becker College signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nobel Peace Laureate, Muhammad Yunus, to establish the Yunus Social Business Centre at Becker College (YSBC@BC), the first such Centre in the US. The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College will be a national model, empowering individuals to identify world problems and create self-sustaining business solutions that have social impact, while generating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities that drive economic development regionally and around the world. The YSBC@BC educates our students and the surrounding community about addressing social problems by developing and implementing sustainable solutions which have measurable, positive social impact. Students learn to approach problems using The Agile Mindset which Becker College has affirmed as the academic foundation that equips students to navigate change, and create value in the complex, hyper-connected, automated world of the 21st century. Through their experience with The Agile Mindset, they are equipped with the critical thinking skills, rooted in a sense of ethics, which make them agents of change. Becker College students acquire changemaker skills that employers seek: ethical leadership, creativity, empathy, hands-on experience, problem-solving, perceptiveness, and an entrepreneurial spirit. The Centre gives students the opportunities and resources to make a positive difference in the world through their commitment to social causes, while simultaneously learning important business development skills.