Intersection of Work, Impact, and Passion: January Alumni Profiles

Jennifer DeSimone
January 16, 2024

For many of us the intersection of work, impact, and passion can be elusive. We either don't know what we want to do or maybe we do, just don't know how to achieve it.

For the alumni profiled this month, each one shared their story of how something in their personal life sparked a passion in them which has turned into their work. While some changed took years in the making, others happened seemingly overnight. However, for all of them, developing communities and providing support in impactful and intentional ways is at the heart of their work.

Say hello to these five impactful leaders.

Tiffany Yu


Trips: Starter Costa Rica, Tulum, and looking forward to Peru this summer 

Current Location: San Francisco, Ca

Her story: My purpose is to foster community that empowers people of all abilities to dream bigger and do great things. I am the founder of Diversability, an award-winning social enterprise working to rebrand disability through the power of community. We work to unite the disability community, engage allies, and celebrate disability pride and empowerment. I became passionate about this space after a car accident 20 years ago took my dad's life and left me with a disability.

I also run San Francisco Admissions and Community for the co-living startup Common, where we provide housing that is flexible, convenient, and rooted in community.

Connect: @imtiffanyyu

Kelcie Evenson


Trips: Belize, Peru, and Yoga in Costa Rica

Current Location: Atlanta, GA

Her Story: I recently decided to take a large step outside of my comfort zone and enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training program at Core Power Yoga here in Atlanta. As I had only been practicing yoga for a few months, I nearly backed out of my program at least half a dozen times before finally making the commitment, but I'm so glad I did! Even in the short time I've been practicing, yoga has provided me with a unique space to focus on myself - uninterrupted - for about an hour out of each day, which has had an incredible impact on my productivity and energy levels in just about every aspect of life. Now that I've completed my program, I can't wait to share the peace, balance, and self-love that yoga has brought me with new students of my own!

Connect: @kelcie_evenson

Shams Naim


Trips: Costa Rica and Mexico (2017)

Current Location: New York City 

His Story: Leadership in today's day and age is about being globally minded & connected, diverse and inclusive - that's how you create successful solutions to complex problems. Part of the millennial generation, I "grew up" in a world where gender, race, sexual orientation, and location in our work and personal lives was widely diverse, integrated and connected through social media and mobile platforms. With a changing global landscape and technology enabled world, I started working with companies and universities to educate and develop these future leaders through targeted programming, mentorship, scholarship & fellowship programs. I am also Big 4 management consultant, product design leader for PASSNYC and advisor to multiple startups. Personally, I have a goal to travel to 40 countries before I'm 40!

Connect: @shamsa621

Katherine Black


Trips: Explore Iceland, Explore Scotland, and will be hiking the Inca Trail with U30X in August!

Current Location: Durham, NC

Her Story: I have always cared about empathy and about programming for social causes. As the Program Coordinator for Social Innovation at Duke's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (a university-wide initiative), my boss and I work to connect students interested in learning about social innovation to the correct resources and opportunities on and off campus. So often people think innovation only lives in the business school, but here at Duke I&E, we believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are for everyone.  I love when students realize that they don't have to go the "traditional career path" to be successful; but that they can be innovative and entrepreneurial in any career path that they may choose.

Connect: @katherineeblack

Kristen Laino


Trips: Mexico & Iceland

Current Location: Philadelphia, Pa

Her Story: While 2016 brought me many great things, it didn't come without its struggles. I was working a job that made me miserable and it was making my overall outlook negative. In December, I was laid off, which was a blessing in disguise. I had already been thinking about what my next move should be before I lost my job. Losing my job gave me the freedom to figure out what I truly wanted. In less than a month, I went from having a job, to losing a job, to being accepted into grad school. I started classes this week. I also went outside of my comfort zone and applied to the Life Project Fellowship in Costa Rica. I am excited to announce that I will be spending a month this summer learning about heart centered education and myself and am looking forward to taking back new ways of holistic education into the American classroom.

Connect: @kjlaino

In Summary

Wherever you are in the country (or world!) take time to reflect back on pivotal moments in your life. 

You may just find that those moments will shed life on your next career path or your ability to impact your community.

Are you a U30X alumni doing impact work and are interested in being profiled for in our February alumni profile? 

Drop us a line! 

Want to become an alumni? Join us on a trip!

Jennifer DeSimone
Currently based in Austin, Jennifer is the Chief of Community for U30X. She has a passion for creating connections, community, and opportunities for more empathy. In her spare time you can find her on her yoga mat, whipping up something yummy in the kitchen, or reading a good book.


last minute deals


As Seen In...