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SUCCESSOR: Rachael Jarosh comes to Enactus with 22 years of experience in branding, communications and philanthropy.
SUCCESSOR: Rachael Jarosh comes to Enactus with 22 years of experience in branding, communications and philanthropy.

Enactus: New CEO, same vision

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For Alvin Rohrs, October marks the end of a career connecting business and academia on a global scale.

He stepped down as president and CEO of Springfield-based Enactus Sept. 30 after exactly 34 years at the helm of the nonprofit, which organizes teams of college-level entrepreneurs creating community development projects and resulting competitions. During that time, he led the group – known as Students in Free Enterprise since 1975 – through a name change in 2012.

“I love what I do and what Enactus does, but I’ve averaged between 150-200 days per year on the road, and as much as I love seeing places and meeting people it does kind of wear you down,” Rohrs said. “I think it’s time for someone else to take it.”

The person charged with that task is Rachael Jarosh, who comes with 22 years of experience in branding, communications and philanthropy. She served as president of the Pentair Foundation, the philanthropic arm of global water, fluid and thermal management firm Pentair PLC, where she also has led global corporate communications. The last three years, she’s consulted on philanthropic efforts of public and private companies through her Minneapolis-based company Isles Strategies.

Rohrs, who will serve in an advisory capacity to Jarosh until year’s end, said he made the decision to retire about a year before it was announced in April, at which point the Enactus board retained Los Angeles-based executive search firm Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) to find his successor.

Two weeks into Rohrs’ shoes, Jarosh is learning about the organization and determining where some of Enactus’ next steps might lead.

“Nonprofits are always considering ways we can better serve our existing partners and reach out to more partners,” Jarosh said.

The world stage
During Rohrs’ tenure, the scope of Enactus has grown to encompass 1,710 university teams comprising 69,000 students in 36 countries. Italy is the most recent addition, joining this year.

“My first business plan I wrote, I thought if we were really good and worked hard, we’d get to 300 colleges in the U.S. and that would be the peak,” Rohrs said. “Thirty-four years ago, if I had said we’d have teams in China and Russia, people would have locked me up.”

The nonprofit’s operating budget is roughly $20 million, split between $14 million for the core network of countries and $6 million-$7 million for subsidiary countries with licensing agreements.

After a dip in revenue from $16.2 million in 2013 to $12.8 million in 2014, Enactus climbed to $13.6 million in 2015, according to the organization’s 990 tax returns. Contributions and grants fluctuated between $14 million and $15 million in those years.

Jarosh sees potential for growing Enactus’ reach, not only in new countries but also adding university teams in some of its larger markets.

“We continue to have growth in the U.S., India and China, but there are other markets where I’m doing analysis on what our penetration rate is at universities and the opportunities we have to nurture social entrepreneurship,” Jarosh said.

In late September, the nonprofit held the Enactus World Cup, pitting its 36 participating countries’ best teams against each other. Competing with students from Germany, India and Nigeria in the final round, Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, walked away with the win for developing hydroponic garden kits.

He estimates about 800,000 students have taken part in the organization, with resulting programs impacting around 18 million people.

“We built a model that empowers young people to empower others to live better lives through entrepreneurship and business that works in almost any culture in any country,” Rohrs said. “When you share your dream, your dream gets bigger.”

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