Michael Del Ponte ’08 M.A.R.
B.A. Boston College 2005
Before coming to YDS I started a nonprofit organization called Conscious Lifestyle, which I am now running as an alumnus. Many people ask me why I chose to attend Divinity school to prepare for a career in social entrepreneurship. My response is that YDS has given me a holistic understanding of social change that goes beyond the necessary skill-set of a nonprofit manager. While my degree program has allowed me to take management courses downtown, my time in the classroom and chapel has helped me to reflect on social-change luminaries like Dr. King and Dorothy Day, whom I seek to emulate.
In addition to being inspirited by Christian leaders of the past, I have learned a great deal from the life of one of our own role models: Emilie Townes. Dr. Townes represents the four key elements on the Conscious Lifestyle model for social change: awareness, socially responsible living (what she calls “everydayness”), institutional change, and leading for life. Dr. Townes has ascended to impressive positions in the academic world and uses those positions to create positive social change. Fortunately, her lofty titles do not get in the way of the personal relationships that she creates or the everyday decisions she makes. Dr. Townes’ scholarship, leadership, and worship all point to the motto of YDS, “faith and intellect,” and get to the heart of my motivation to grow Conscious Lifestyle.
The purpose of Conscious Lifestyle is to support high school and college ventures to: 1) help students and schools to be more socially responsible, and 2) teach student leaders about social entrepreneurship. In our first year we launched 14 ventures and plan to have 25 by the end of 2008. By 2015 we will have over 500 ventures, three regional offices in the U.S. and Canada, and a robust alumni network. We offer our ventures seed money, Web space, mentoring, skill-building workshops, and networking opportunities. As the executive director of Conscious Lifestyle, my job is to oversee all operations of the organization, while also guiding our vision. YDS has informed how I do both.