Congratulations to the 2023 Class of
AITF’s Anchor Fellows Program
Director of Innovation at Marquette University
Kelsey Otero is the Director of Innovation at Marquette University. In this role, she leads the 707 Hub, Marquette’s campus-wide student innovation center, runs business bootcamps for community entrepreneurs, and works to build the social innovation ecosystem in Wisconsin. In addition, Kelsey is passionate about economic and business development in Milwaukee, serving as Co-Chair of the Near West Side Commercial Corridor Working Team, volunteering on the Fund Milwaukee board, and running the popular Rev-Up MKE business pitch competition for Near West Side Partners. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and earned her MBA from Marquette University. In 2019 she was recognized as one of Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 winners.
Executive Director of Tech Incubator at Queens College, CUNY
Dr. Ying Zhou is the Executive Director of Tech Incubator at Queens College, CUNY. She an ecosystem builder, a collaborator, and a co-creator. Ying supports entrepreneurs and startups by creating a collaborative and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem that educates, engages, and inspires early-stage entrepreneurs to turn their ideas to ventures. She serves as a mentor to her students and an advisor to entrepreneurs and startups, with a focus on technology and innovation. Ying has over nineteen years of experience working on Technology Advisory engagements at PwC. She is passionate about cross-sector and interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, design and design thinking, emerging technology, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems, and digital transformation.
Head of Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement, the University of Manchester
Mags supports the development of the University’s own civic engagement work – a key theme in the Our Future plan; its work to implement the new Civic University Agreement; and enhance its impact towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to this role, Mags worked for the Co-operative Group where she established the Co-operative Academies Trust and worked in partnership with the first schools during their conversion to become Co-operative Group sponsored Academies. Mags has worked in both the private and public sector roles before joining the Co-operative Group, she has a Masters degree in International studies from the University of Leeds.
Director of Collective Impact at Grinnell College in the Office of Community Partnerships Planning and Research
Melissa Strovers is the Director of Collective Impact at Grinnell College in the Office of Community Partnerships Planning and Research. Strovers directs the College’s collective impact initiatives to drive systems change by supporting area changemakers in co-creating solutions for common goals. Using strong project management skills and strategic doing, Strovers convenes stakeholder teams to align resources toward systemic issues that affect the community, such as early childhood literacy, food security, and transportation. Strovers currently serves as a co-chair of the United Way of Grinnell. She holds a B.A. in communications from Oklahoma Christian University and an M.A. in public administration from Drake University.
Director of Outreach Programs and Events, Grinnell College
Sarah Smith leads a portfolio of outreach programs and events that connect campus and community, enhance the community’s social and economic vitality, and showcase Grinnell as a thriving, vibrant community. Smith convenes campus and community teams to guide new and ongoing programming, events, exhibitions, and materials that excite residents, newcomers, and visitors about the resources, opportunities, and quality of life in Grinnell. Prior to joining Grinnell College in the winter of 2015, she served as the Executive Director at Imagine Grinnell. Sarah holds a B.A. in Psychobiology from Luther College. Smith appreciates the joys and benefits of living in Grinnell with her spouse and two children.
The Anchor Fellows Program adds a dimension to the existing training of future anchor leaders by preparing a next generation committed to AITF’s values to successfully navigate the engagement of anchors in their local communities. This training also highlights the competencies required to build and maintain the commitment and infrastructure to sustain a comprehensive commitment to democratic local engagement.