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Diana Wells

President, Ashoka


Dr. Diana Wells has been president of Ashoka, a global organization dedicated to supporting and advancing social entrepreneurship in more than 80 countries, since 2007.

Diana began her work at Ashoka after graduating from Brown University (1988) and created one of the organization’s core programs: a network through which social entrepreneurs can share ideas and learn from one another. She took a leave from Ashoka to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology at New York University (2000). Her ethnographic research focused on understanding how social change happens as a local articulation of a global social movement and resulted in her dissertation: Between the Difference: The Emergence of a Cross Ethnic Women’s Movement in Trinidad and Tobago. She returned to her work at Ashoka to lead the organization’s geographic expansion as a global social movement and developed a widely-used and respected tool to measure the impact of social entrepreneurship.

Diana has been named both a Fulbright and a Woodrow Wilson scholar, is a trustee of Brown University, is on the Advisory Board for the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She previously served on the Board of GuideStar International. She has taught anthropology at Georgetown University and has authored and edited numerous journal and book publications including two compilations on social movements in the United States.

Diana has received a number of national awards for her work. In 2012, the Brown Alumni Association presented her with the William Rogers Award, its highest honor, George Mason University awarded her their inaugural Social Innovation Champion in 2011, and in 2007 Diana was celebrated as one of 10 winners of the first annual Women to Watch award, by Running Start, a Washington, DC based organization that empowers young women to be political leaders.

Regional Focus

Caribbean, Central America, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa, Eastern Asia, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Oceania, South America, Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa