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  Name:   Dr. Cheryl Dorsey
Month: March 2005
Schools: Harvard BA 1985
Harvard MD 1992
Harvard MPP 1992
Organization: Echoing Green
Title: President

An accomplished social entrepreneur with expertise in health care, labor issues and public policy, Dr. Cheryl Dorsey has been President of Echoing Green since May 2002. She is the first Echoing Green Fellow to lead the social venture fund, which has awarded more than $22 million in startup capital to 400 social entrepreneurs in 30 countries since 1987.

Dorsey says she entered the nonprofit sector because she "has a long-standing interest and concern about equity issues in society. Having grown up as an African American in our society, you become very sensitive to political, social, and economic inequities."

She was inspired by leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, along with her own parents, who both taught at innercity public schools in Baltimore. Dorsey describes her parents as "compassionate, kind and committed educators who helped generations of kids grow and learn and become questioning, thoughtful adults." She was taught by their example to believe in the profound power of education. "For people without means, education is a vital tool for advancement in society," she says.

Dorsey received her own education at Harvard College where she earned degrees in history and science in 1985. In 1992, while training to be a pediatrician at Harvard Medical School, she received an Echoing Green Fellowship. With it, she launched the Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit that provides basic medical and outreach services to at-risk residents of inner city Boston neighborhoods. "Babies were dying just blocks away from the best medical institutions in the world," she explains.

The Family Van continues to thrive, serving more than 7,000 clients each year.

Dorsey's experience as a social entrepreneur was transformative. "My eyes were opened to a whole new world," Dorsey says of her experience as an Echoing Green Fellow. "It was very empowering to be part of this community of people who were trying to improve the world. Echoing Green offered me an opportunity to work at a broader, more holistic, community level to achieve social change."

In 1997, Dorsey was selected as a White House Fellow and she served for a year as a special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, advising the Clinton administration on health care and other issues.

In 1998, she was named special assistant to the director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S Labor Department, where she helped develop family-friendly workplace policies and a pay-equity initiative.

Dorsey also served as the first director of public-health initiatives at Danya International Inc., a health communications firm, where she developed products and services aimed at substance-abuse treatment and prevention, child and family services, minority health and community outreach.

One of the hardest lessons she's had to learn is patience. "Anyone involved in social change work knows you measure change in terms of years and generations. Social change is a marathon and not a sprint," she says. "But it can feed your soul like few other endeavors. Echoing Green Fellows inspire me every day to stay committed and determined to improve our communities. They inspire me to stay true to our vision."

Dorsey has received numerous awards for commitment to public service, including the Pfizer Roerig History of Medicine Award, the Robert Kennedy Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Manual C. Carballo Memorial Prize. She speaks widely on minority affairs, child health issues, social justice and social entrepreneurship.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Coro New York Leadership Center, which is dedicated to strengthening communities and the democratic process by educating for effective ethical leadership across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

For more information on Echoing Green, please visit or email



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