J. Howard Kucher, DPA, MBA
Dr. J. Howard "Jim" Kucher serves as the Program Director of the MS in Health and Social Innovation. An award-winning teacher and internationally recognized thought leader in social entrepreneurship, he cultivates strong entrepreneurial skill development for students, researchers, and professionals through experiential learning courses and workshops. He is the lead author of Social Entrepreneurship -A Practice-Based Approach to Social Innovation, recently published by Edward Elgar Publishers, a leading independent academic and professional publisher.
Previously, Dr. Kucher was the Founding Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the University of Baltimore, where he led the Baltimore Social Enterprise Collaborative. In addition to his teaching duties, Kucher works as a consultant to leading and emerging social benefit initiatives to help them improve outcomes and increase sustainable revenues. He has successfully secured over $70m in working capital on behalf of mission-oriented enterprises and assisted over 100 area nonprofits and social enterprises in developing new models for meeting the needs of their constituents while increasing the sustainability of their organizations.
Kucher earned a Doctorate in Public Administration with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship, as well as a MBA with an Entrepreneurship specialization from The University of Baltimore. He holds a B.A. from Kean University and has also earned certification as a project management professional and a new product development professional. He has been recognized as a Baltimore Renaissance Seed Scholar, an Unsung Hero of Small Business and a Fulbright Specialist Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship.
Jay Nwachu, MS
Jay serves as President and C.E.O. of Innovation Works (IW), a nonprofit social enterprise in Baltimore City. IW is committed to decreasing the city’s racial wealth divide through the launch and growth of sustainable social enterprises in Baltimore’s economically distressed neighborhoods. Jay also serves as President of Ignite Capital, a social impact fund subsidiary of IW dedicated to closing the access to capital gap for the enterprises in the IW pipeline.
Jay's early career was in talent management, with a focus on Diversity and Inclusion across the private, government, and nonprofit sectors. Jay’s academic background is in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and a master's degree from the University of Baltimore.
Jenny Owens, SciD, MS
Dr. Jenny Owens serves as the Executive Director of the "the Grid" at UMB. The Grid is an innovation hub where UMB students connect with entrepreneurs, faculty, and staff to bring innovative health and social impact ideas to life. In addition to teaching in the MS in Health and Social Innovation, Dr. Owens is founder and executive director of a social venture that connects families and friends of patients traveling to receive medical care with volunteer hosts offering accommodations in their homes. This project was inspired by her son Maximus, who faced serious health challenges after birth.
Dr. Owens has a doctorate in Information and Interaction Design from the University of Baltimore which emphasizes human-centered design and design thinking. Her master’s program focused heavily on business systems, marketing, finance, and organizational behavior. These graduate degrees, along with her undergraduate foundation in principles of health, anatomy, and physiology, give her a unique background in health science, business, and design-thinking.
Jenny is Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader, a Warnock Social Innovation Fellow, in the Baltimore Business Journal Class of 2018 40 under 40, and an alum of the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab. Her research interests include health equity, indirect costs of healthcare, and technology assisted community support
Ashley Valis, MSW
Ashley Valis is the chief operating officer at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, where she is responsible for strategic oversight, operational excellence of programs and services, human resources, and leadership of our strategic planning process and initiatives. Valis has an extensive background in human services and brings strong knowledge and experience in community engagement, government & public policy, strategic planning, and goal achievement. She joins the organization after eight years at the University of Maryland Baltimore’s office of community engagement where she most recently served as executive director. Prior to UMB, Valis held various positions in former Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration most notably as assistant chief of staff, where she had direct oversight of four state agencies, and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs where among other responsibilities, she advised the Governor on county and municipal legislative and budget priorities.