Foundation honors Elon faculty member with new award

Alyssa Martina, director of the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is the first recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s  Engaged Faculty & Staff Award, established this year to recognize “extraordinary engagement in Sullivan Foundation programming.”

The director of an Elon University center that fosters creativity and design thinking across all disciplines has been honored by a national foundation whose mission is to support and educate college students, mentors, and alumni with a demonstrated record of community involvement.

Alyssa Martina, director of the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is the inaugural recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s newly established Engaged Faculty & Staff Award.

The award, presented March 24 at an evening program in Charlotte, “honors a faculty or staff member at a Sullivan partner school for their extraordinary engagement in Sullivan Foundation programming.”

Martina has accompanied Elon students to past foundation retreats and participated in faculty & staff workshops focused on best practices for teaching social entrepreneurship and innovation. The Sullivan Foundation partnered with Martina on the Elon Innovation challenge in 2020 with the primary goal of sharpening students’ ability to solve problems, innovate and address large social issues with an eye on creating sustainable solutions.

Accompanying Alyssa Martina on March 24 at the Sullivan Foundation program were (from left) Dean of Student Development Jodean Schmiederer; Raychel Lockwood, director of development for the Love School of Business; Love School of Business Associate Dean Haya Ajjan; Martina; and Meghan Murray ’21.

She has also attended and facilitated students at the foundation’s study abroad program in Strasburg, France. Among other honors, in 2022 she was named a Faculty Innovation Fellow in the University Innovation Fellows program at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

Martina was among those featured in a recent article by Poets&Quants that asked top graduating business students from the Class of 2022 to share their favorite professor and how that educator made a difference in their lives. Lilly Rothschild ’22 credited Martina for “empower(ing) me to see challenges as an opportunity to better myself in order to better the community and world around me.”

The Sullivan Foundation noted similar qualities about Martina.

“Alyssa is a valued partner-scholar within the Sullivan Foundation network,” said Jody Holland, the Sullivan Foundation’s faculty engagement specialist and an associate professor of public policy leadership at the University of Mississippi. “Over the past years, she has worked to develop programming for the Sullivan Foundation as well as promote the Foundation across the region and world. With Alyssa’s leadership, she partnered with the University of Mississippi and Brenau University to develop a Sullivan sponsored program in Israel, promoting innovation, leadership, and service.

“The expertise, collegiality, and engagement that Alyssa offers when working with the Foundation sets a high standard of excellence for other partner-scholars. Alyssa is very deserving of the Faculty & Staff Engagement Award.”

The Sullivan Foundation was established in 1934 in honor of New York attorney and humanitarian Algernon Sydney Sullivan, who more than a half century earlier had founded Sullivan and Cromwell and built a reputation for taking on clients who could pay little or nothing when he believed their cause was just. His wife, Mary Mildred Sullivan, was a southerner by birth and cared deeply about social issues in the American South.

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The foundation today leads impactful programming to promote social change, positive leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship resources for students and faculty in its network of more than 70 partner schools.

Having earned both law and MBA degrees, Martina launched several companies in the metro Detroit region prior to joining the Elon University community in 2016, and she previously taught at the University of Michigan Law School, Fordham University and Wayne State University.

“I love the Sullivan Foundation. I believe in the Sullivan Foundation. The foundation and our university have common goals around mentoring, around the impact of social entrepreneurship and service, and around leadership,” Martina said of her award. “It’s a joy to work with an organization where the mission is so in line with what we do at Elon.”