Deliberate Speed: Diverse Influence on Leadership and Life at Johnson

To use the word “successful” to characterize Johnson’s most diverse class to date is perhaps too narrow; this group is more than that. They are influential

By Derek Daniels, MBA ‘12, and Aaron Holiday, MBA ‘12

40 – 44 – 22

  • Forty under-represented students matriculated to the Johnson Class of 2012.
  • Forty-Four on-campus leadership positions are held by minority leaders.
  • Twenty-Two internship offers were earned –all before week ten of The Core.

To use the word “successful” to characterize Johnson’s most diverse class to date is perhaps too narrow; this group is more than that. They are influential

Im·pact   n .  A significant major effect

Luisa Velasquez AminsharifiIf you attended the 2010 National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Conference and Job Fair, you likely saw the greater-than-life-sized placard of Johnson’s own Luisa Velasquez Aminsharifi, MBA ‘12, that graced the conference floor. What you did not see, however, is the energy the current NSHMBA scholar and Forté Fellow, expended behind the scenes to organize a preparatory workshop for all Johnson School conference attendees – all while managing her own career search.


Arron SeabronThis level of acclaim and altruism is the norm for Johnson’s newest crop of diverse leaders, all of whom embrace the axiom “doing well while doing good”. Hence it’s no surprise that Aaron Seabron, MBA ‘12, a Park Leadership Fellow and newly-elected Student Body Chair, is joined on the 12 member Student Council by 3 other diverse students. Nor is it a surprise that when asked why he ran for the chief position on the Johnson School’s governing body he responded, “I felt like it was the platform that would allow me to make the largest impact on the widest possible group of people.” Other diverse leaders follow suit, leading groups like Big Red Ventures, Community Impact, and Johnson Christian Fellowship to name a few. Armed with the successes of other diverse leaders, including the outgoing BRV Chief Operating Officer and the Executive Director of the Johnson [Non-Profit] Board Fellows, this cohort expects to raise the bar of excellence even higher.

Har·bin·ger n. One that pioneers in or initiates a major change

Carlos CastroAsk Carlos Castro, MBA ‘12, or Aaron Holiday, MBA ’12, what the next million dollar business idea is and they may reply with a silent grin. That’s because the idea probably belongs to one of the entrepreneurs they support in the eLab business incubator they manage together. For the first time in its history eLab administrators selected not one but two fellows to run eLab. Entrepreneurs from across the university leverage eLab resources to devise business strategies, raise seed capital, and commercialize their businesses – all under the guidance of its two aspiring venture capitalists. After foregoing their winter breaks to intern at Ezra Pharmaceuticals, facilitating a campaign to raise $10M for phase one clinical testing, Aaron was selected to run the BR Venture Fund as the new COO and Carlos was promoted to fund manager focused on investor relations. Aaron and his team of 7 MBAs are responsible for managing 1.2M in assets including 7 portfolio companies. They are not alone.

Imani GrantImani Grant, MBA ‘12, decided to forego her winter break and instead went to South Africa, to participate in a project with the Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research (SMART) program. Imani assisted Ezulwini Chocolat, a Cape Town chocolatier, in developing a strategic plan, a marketing plan, and an employee training program. Nursing a passion for business development and agriculture, it is no accident that Grant, who regularly challenges the status quo, landed an opportunity to partner with the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development, and students across the university to address food challenges in emerging markets. Imani also serves as the VP of Internal Affairs for O4B, the Johnson organization that supports the LGBT community, and launched the Fortés@Johnson student group for Johnson Forté Fellows.

El·e·vate v. To raise in rank or status; to improve morally, intellectually, or culturally

Celebrate, who these leaders are today. Imagine who these leaders will be tomorrow…

Derek DanielsDerek Daniels, MBA ’12, serves as Communications Chair on the Student Council, a Student Lead on the Johnson Grading Task Force, and VP of Education for the Black Graduate Business Association. Derek worked as a New York City public school teacher and civil servant prior to attending Johnson, and will intern at Johnson & Johnson this summer as an MBA Marketing Intern.

Arron HolidayAaron Holiday, MBA ’12, is focused on venture capital in the Entrepreneurship and Private Equity Immersion. Aaron leads the eLab, is a member of the Entrepreneurship @ Cornell student board of directors, led the 2011 New Orleans IdeaVillage competition and in March, was selected to run the BR Venture Fund as COO. This summer, he will be working for a NYC venture capital backed start-up funded by Bain Capital and Canaan Partners. Aaron is a MLT Fellow and a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow.

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