Meet the Founder
With the economy, environment and the educational system facing unprecedented challenge and change, David recognized that the only way to prepare his university students, his sons and their peers was through a new, practical, and creative approach to education and personal development.
While a full-time Lecturer at the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business, David co-founded two successful companies, ran a non-profit, and adapted his experience as a social entrepreneur to fatherhood. He helped his sons and hundreds of their classmates create, implement, and participate in creative, fun, national award-winning projects to address environmental issues like clean air, water, and soil restoration, public health, sustainable school fundraisers, and access to music and arts education. (Read details about some of the projects here in the Projects tab.) Team members went on to win admission and scholarships to many selective universities, including Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Northwestern, and Johns Hopkins. The lessons the teams learned from their experiences have shaped the model for SICC.
He did his undergraduate work at Miami University as an in-state student, as he was responsible for covering 100% of his education with scholarships, grants, and loans. He was appointed by Governor Richard Celeste (D), and reappointed by Governor George Voinovich (R) to the Miami University Board of Trustees, where he served two consecutive terms. He also was elected Vice-President of student government and served four years on University Senate. After graduation, he realized his passion of not only researching nonviolent political change, but participating in building it when he was awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship to Lithuania, and a second fellowship the following year to complete his research.
David completed a Master’s in Philosophy at Vilnius University after defending in Lithuanian his thesis on ethics, while doing his Fulbright research and working as a staff writer or freelancer for regional and Washington D.C.-based publications.
His local knowledge brought him to the U.S. Department of State, where he worked for three years as a political analyst and as an advisor to the nascent nonprofit sector for USAID/Vilnius. After witnessing the social, political, and environmental traumas of "shock therapy" economic reform in the region, David began to doubt aspects of the development models he was helping to advance. So he began volunteering to advise students and faculty on their applications to study and research in Western Europe and the United States. Also, in 1996, he formed a team of students from four high schools in Vilnius to found JaunimasJaunimui (Youth for Youth) Lithuania's first youth-focused nonprofit promoting sustainability and grassroots development. He helped them secure funding to implement a school-based pilot recycling project in four cities, a successful model that spread to schools across the country as Lithuania further integrated into the European Union.
David directed several award-winning documentary films and began to write fiction. That brought him to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship and the Iowa Teaching-Writing Fellowship and earned an MFA. David also served as a full-time Lecturer at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business for twelve years teaching business ethics, communication, and social entrepreneurship. He concurrently taught social entrepreneurship as a Lecturer for five years at Cornell College and advised their national award-winning ENACTUS chapter.
In the classroom and in the field, David has worked with students locally and internationally to develop and implement their own social entrepreneurship initiatives. He has led teams of students in social entrepreneurship courses and service learning initiatives focused in India and Guatemala, where they learned from some of the most creative social entrepreneurs in the world, including at world-renowned organizations such as the Sehgal Foundation (rural development), Hand-in-Hand (microfinance and women’s empowerment), and the Aravind Eye Hospital (world-class medical care for the underprivileged).
To make social entrepreneurship projects more sustainable, accessible to all students, and to leverage impact long-term using virtual teams, David co-founded a non-profit, BplansforHumanity, which enabled hundreds of students from the University of Iowa, Cornell College, The Ohio State University, and the University of Delaware to implement their own social entrepreneurship projects as well as collaborate with existing nonprofits in South Asia, Central America, and the United States. This virtual team model became the basis for SICC’s team approach to coaching and project management.
He also co-founded several successful for-profit social entrepreneurship ventures, including NurturEnergy, which won the "Hero of the Planet" award from the St. Louis Business Journal in 2010 for its sustainable new product development and social innovation partnerships, and DClimate, whose patented no-idle systems for truck cabs currently on the road in North America prevent more than 30 tons of CO₂ as well as other pollutants from entering the atmosphere every day. Last year, DClimate raised several million dollars in Series A venture capital for new product development and market expansion.
In 2019, David was hired as a consultant to work with leading faculty and administrators to help develop and implement an ethics and social entrepreneurship curriculum for all 3,000+ students at the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. The program is being launched this fall semester and is the first of its kind in the country, with an aim to be replicable nationwide.
Beginning in Lithuania and continuing throughout his career, David has guided numerous students and colleagues to find their path, gain college admission, financial aid, and prestigious fellowships (NSF, Fulbright, Rhodes) to scores of institutions, including Cambridge, Oxford, Columbia, Harvard, and MIT, as well as to many other institutions.
Often it is those institutions without the famous brand names which end up providing a better education - and much less tuition and student loan debt - in the long run. David has also advised students who elect to learn a trade or start a venture right after graduating high school, avoiding college expenses, a path that often can be just as or more rewarding.
David tells students that college or vocation are mostly what you make it, how much heart you put into it, and especially, how much good you can do for your community with the education and experience you gain.
He is still learning to trust his crazy ideas and make them enduringly beautiful.
Students test and report water quality and clean up local waterways; work with local restaurants to separate food waste and report results to media; testify in the Iowa legislature and lobby the governor for funding to compost at landfills to reduce methane production; launch an organization to help schools convert to sustainable and healthful fundraisers, and undergraduates collaborate with social entrepreneurs in India as part of a university course and BplansForHumanity.
One of the projects for middle and high-schoolers generated significant local and regional press and raised over $30,000 for advocacy, and two others were national finalists or first-prize winners in the Christopher Columbus Awards, eCybermission, The DuPont Challenge, and the President's Environmental Youth Award which earned an invite to the White House.