About Our Chapter
DC+Acumen is a volunteer-run chapter of the Acumen global network that spreads awareness about Acumen’s mission of changing the way the world tackles poverty. Based in Washington, DC, our chapter seeks to inspire and empower change makers, unlock DC’s potential to accelerate the growth of market driven social enterprises, and put Acumen’s values and principles into practice in our community.
Meet the team
Bhargavi Ammu, Chapter Co-Chair
Bhargavi Ammu serves as 2015-2016 Co-Chair of the DC+Acumen chapter. Formerly, Bhargavi oversaw internal chapter strategy and operations. She currently supports global health initiatives at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Stephanie Bandyk, Chapter Co-Chair
Stephanie Bandyk was drawn to the innovative Acumen model: holding two seemingly opposed ideas at once – philanthropy with business, generosity with accountability, humility with audacity, and listening with leadership. Before becoming Co-Chair, Stephanie oversaw DC+Acumen’s marketing and communications. Currently, Stephanie supports the Global Programs division at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), working to build a better business enabling environment and strengthen democracy through market oriented reform in emerging markets. Stephanie is a graduate of Wake Forest University, loves traveling and learning new languages, and is a major panda enthusiast.
Safia Gulamani, Finance Lead
Safia Gulamani is a firm believer of mobilizing private capital for public good. She supports initiatives that reshape how we think about the role of business in solving intractable social problems. Currently, Safia works on Arabella Advisors’ impact investing team, helping philanthropists and investors achieve the greatest impact with their resources. Prior to moving to DC, Safia completed her master’s degree in Public Administration at New York University and held various positions with Accion International, the Clinton Foundation, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Safia previously worked as a forensic accountant in insurance loss and litigation and is certified as a Chartered Accountant. As DC+Acumen’s Finance Lead, Safia oversees the chapter’s expenditures and finances. Born and raised in Toronto, Safia is a loyal Canadian and poutine lover.
Ben Cohen, Fundraising Lead
Ben Cohen first became interested in Acumen because of its novel approach to combining business practicality with traditional charity. As the Fundraising Chair, Ben oversees DC+Acumen’s efforts to build philanthropic support and engage donors who share Acumen’s vision of creating a world beyond poverty. At Children’s National Health System, Ben works with a multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists who aim to improve pediatric surgery, helping them bring innovative devices from ideation to market. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ben is an avid sailor, plays tenor saxophone and acoustic guitar, and enjoys long distance running.
Jessica Kaushal, Programming & Events Lead
Jessica Kaushal was inspired to support Acumen because of its emphasis on sustainable, impact-driven development. Presently, Jessica works at a public affairs firm in downtown D.C., where she manages partnerships and political advocacy for a multi-state health coalition. She also works as a data consultant for the Taproot Foundation, where she supports impact evaluation work for D.C. area non-profits, and serves as a volunteer post-secondary coach for D.C. area high school students. Jessica graduated from Pomona College, where she studied economic development and authored a thesis on the impact of regulation on India’s burgeoning microfinance industry. She is rarely seen without chai in hand, and as a California transplant, is currently working to adapt to temperatures below sixty degrees.
Ian Smith, Sponsorships/Partnerships Lead
Ian Smith was drawn towards Acumen’s mission when learning how impact investing was transforming the traditional way investors approached philanthropy. As DC+Acumen’s Sponsorships/Partnerships Lead, Ian engages key partners and supporters to enhance the chapter’s mission and goals. He is currently an Associate at Strategic Investment Group, an outsourced chief investment office managing customized portfolios for institutional and private clients. At Strategic, Ian supports the management of the firm’s private equity and real estate portfolio, evaluating and recommending investment opportunities aimed at achieving clients’ long term portfolio objectives. He is also heavily engaged in the firm’s impact investing initiatives, helping interested clients’ incorporate a social focus into portfolios traditionally designed with pure financial return targets in mind. Ian graduated from the University of Virginia and is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Society of Washington, D.C.
Maureen Book, Communications Lead
Maureen Book was recently inspired to join the DC+Acumen chapter due to her interest in impact investing, financial inclusion, and passion for encouraging innovative entrepreneurs in the developing world. Maureen helps with promoting DC+Acumen’s events, graphics, and marketing. She currently works as a research analyst in the international trade field for a federal contractor. Previously, she worked for an international NGO in DC connecting enterprises in the developing world to US investors and prior to that, at a refugee resettlement agency in St. Louis helping refugees and immigrants access finance and start their own businesses. Maureen is a graduate of American University and Creighton University and enjoys book clubs, tennis, college basketball, and anything that involves summer.