Coke Scholars Social Hack Makes an Impact

The room was full of optimism as the first #‎CokeScholarsHack began at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters on Saturday, July 25. But this hack had nothing to do with computer programming – instead, it was an opportunity for over 50 participants, including 25 Scholars, mentors, judges and volunteers, to make a difference by helping 3 nonprofits. Partnering with Amplify 4 Good, a group that strengthens the efforts of service organizations and entrepreneurs by making them better equipped to foster positive change in underserved communities, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and its Alumni Advisory Board organized the hack to create transformative change in a fast-paced and intense environment.

Hackers listened to representatives from 3 nonprofits present their design, marketing, and fundraising problems:

  1. Athena Lao, 2008 Scholar and co-founder of BEST Foundation
  2. Megan Barber, Manager of Donor Engagement at the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
  3. Neha Gupta, 2014 Scholar and founder of Empower Orphans

Following the presentations from the nonprofits, hackers joined together in groups to use their skills, expertise, and entrepreneurial innovation methodologies to come up with solutions. Each nonprofit had 2 groups dedicated to brainstorming – in just 5 hours – ways to improve their processes.

After creating solution presentations, the hackers reassembled to showcase their ideas to the nonprofit leaders and 4 judges, who would select the group with the most impactful solution:

  1. Jay Cranman, VP of Corporate Partnerships, Points of Light
  2. Ben Garren, General Counsel, North America Group, The Coca-Cola Company
  3. Jolene Loetscher, 1997 Scholar and Co-Founder of Mud Mile Communications
  4. Randy McDow, Executive Director, Stamps Family Charitable Foundation

The judges evaluated 6 innovative solutions, and Empower Orphans Team 2 was chosen as the winning team. Ameet Kallarackal, Darien Dabney, Karyn Harrington, Laura Lasance, Kembo Tom, and Wylie Mao’s solution involved refocusing the organization, narrowing their scope to basic health and education intervention for orphans under 18, and then creating a replicable model to attract high school and college students as volunteers. They also suggested strategic partnerships to gain visibility, even partnering with 3 organizations that day.

Partnerships established

“It was a truly wonderful experience that will help drastically expand Empower Orphans,” said Neha Gupta, Founder of Empower Orphans and pictured above. “It is always such an honor to be reconnected with Coke Scholars and Coke alumni. I still cannot believe I am one of them; I feel very lucky.”

In the end, all 6 teams brought a new and valuable perspective to their nonprofit and learned from their teammates during their collaboration.

“As always, I am consistently impressed by the caliber of Coca-Cola Scholar events – [this] hackathon one of them…It’s very exciting to see the Foundation continue to move in a positive direction,” Hacker and 2010 Scholar John Lowry said.

Jay Cranman shared a judge’s perspective: “This hackathon is just another, in a myriad of ways, in which Coke continues to invest in the Atlanta community. It was a special day and I was honored to be part of it. It was easy to see the power of service and volunteerism as 50 individuals gave up a day of their weekend to support 3 amazing nonprofits. I’m sure those nonprofits got a tremendous lift from the event, but like a lot of things in life, I venture that the individual participants and judges, myself included, were the real winners.”

As a result of the great success of the event, the Coca-Cola Scholars Alumni Advisory Board, created by alumni to build on the efforts of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation through networking, mentoring, collaborations, plans to host another #CokeScholarsHack in Los Angeles later this year.

Click here to follow the day through social media posts. 

All videos above were created by Mud Mile Communications.

New Alumni Advisory Board Members

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) was formed in 2006 by alumni Scholars to help support the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s mission and goals. Currently 15 alumni serve on the AAB on a 3 year rotation. This year they are happy to welcome 5 new members, Micaela Connery (2004), Alice Park (1999), Daron Roberts (1997), Nola Weinstein (2001), and Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar Justin Pearson (2013), who will join the board in October 2015.

MicaelaConneryMicaela Connery, a 2004 Coca-Cola Scholar, is the founder of Unified Theater, an organization she launched at the age of 15 inspired by her cousin Kelsey, and MPP Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School focusing on disability, inclusion, and community development. At the Kennedy School, she is a research fellow for the Joint Center for Housing Studies working on issues of disability housing and a teaching assistant in social entrepreneurship. Micaela serves as a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum and has been recognized for her work as a Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow, a 2010 DoSomething Award Winner, a Gloria T. A. Barron Young Hero, a CNN Breakthrough Woman and a West Hartford Connecticut Citizen of the Arts. She’s spoken at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos and keynoted the National Conference on Inclusion (KIT), the National Collegiate Leadership Conference, and Chicago Ideas Week.

AlicePark99Alice Park, a 1999 Scholar, created Alice Park Photography, which was recently recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for being one of the top grossing studios in the city.  In 2009, she co-founded the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) with her husband, Kyu, which is represented in over 60 countries and has become the most recognized photography association within the industry. As the co-founder and Creative Director, Alice continues to grow their educational platform and strengthens their global membership community. Alice is highly involved in her community, serving on the board of Haiti Babi, a nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to bring families together and end the cycle of poverty in Haiti. She also serves on both school boards of her son Lyon’s preschools, spending many volunteer hours creatively helping with school events, photography-related projects, while spear-heading fundraising efforts. Alice graduated from Georgia Tech and lives in Atlanta with her husband Kyu and their children Lyon and Elise.

220px-DARON_ROBERTSDaron K. Roberts, a 1997 Coca-Cola Scholar, is the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation at the University of Texas. He is also CEO and Founder of 4th and 1, Inc. – a nonprofit that provides free SAT/ACT prep, football training, and life skills development to at-risk youth in Texas, Michigan, and Florida. To date, 4th and 1 has transformed nearly 400 student-athletes into independent thinkers and self-sufficient young men. Roberts has spent the past seven years as a football coach with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. He earned his B.A. in Plan II Honors and Government from The University of Texas in 2001. He holds an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School (2004) and J.D. from Harvard Law School (2007). Daron enjoys living in Austin, TX with his wife Hilary and their three children.

Nola Headshot

Nola Weinstein, a 2001 Scholar, is Head of Executive Engagement @Twitter where she focuses on brand storytelling and amplifying corporate influencers. In her role, Nola works with business leaders from around the world to help them better understand the power of the platform and optimize their personal Twitter presence to drive meaningful messaging and impact. Additionally, she runs executive briefings and innovation tours at Twitter’s San Francisco Headquarter for key executives. Prior to joining Twitter, Nola was Editor-in-Chief/VP of Content at Mode Media (formerly Glam Media) where she oversaw content creation and curation strategies across multiple sites and platforms for the top 10 comScore property. Nola was previously Associate Fashion News Editor at IMG’s The Daily and her work has also appeared in Women’s Wear Daily, The Huffington Post, and Seventeen. Weinstein, an expert in digital content strategy, content marketing, and scaled influencer activations, also advises a variety of brands and startups. She is a graduate of Emory University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @NolaBeth.

justin1Justin J. Pearson, a 2013 Scholar, attends Bowdoin College where he concentrates primarily on Government and Legal Studies. Justin is the founder and executive director of Camp Hope Memphis, a summer enrichment program for underserved teenage students in his hometown. Since 2013, this program has impacted over 100 students and has added a new location. Camp Hope teaches lessons in social advocacy, college access, and global citizenship. Recently, Justin presented his research on the evolution of government intervention in education policy for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. He currently serves as an associate board member of State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board, which allocates 5 million dollars in grants to neighborhoods and nonprofits across America. An advocate for equity in education, he aspires to invest in others as many people have invested in him. Justin is the 2013 Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar and is honored and excited to join the AAB.

Alumni Accolades July 2015

Daria Torres

Daria Torres (1992), strategy consultant and the managing partner at Walls Torres Group, shared keys to successful organizational growth in Business Innovators Magazine. Daria also helped lead the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s 2013 strategic planning efforts.


Elise Stefanik (2002), America’s youngest congresswoman to date, was selected to chair a hearing last month of the House Republican Policy Committee entitled “Millenials and the GOP: Learning from America’s emerging leaders to shape tomorrow’s Republican agenda.” Click here to learn more and watch video from the hearing.

Justin Pinn

Justin Pinn (2009) has been named the next Assistant Director of the Georgetown Scholarship Program at Georgetown University where he  will advise, mentor, and help 600+ first generation college students. He has also been named to the Board of Advisers for the Venture Academy Charter School in Minneapolis and was selected by Legacy Miami magazine as one of “South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow for 2015.”

Carrie Jany at TRI

Carrie Regan (1989), Jany Brown (1992), and Kacie Darden (2001) participated in the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon – an Olympic Distance, with a 1500 meter swim, 42 km bike, and 10k run. They had beautiful weather and Jany and Carrie’s finish times were within seconds of each other. After the race they learned through Facebook that Kacie participated as well. Jany and Carrie took this photo for us to prove, as Carrie said, “that us ‘senior’ Coke Scholars can still represent at feats of athletic prowess!”

Alumni Connections July 2015

Scholars in DCScholars from classes 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 got together for pizza and cokes in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 4th of July!

Victoria Hager and JeanHager Rand, President of Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and Jean McGuire, his assistant, had lunch with Victoria Nneji (2010) to welcome her back to town following her graduation from Columbia University. Victoria will begin graduate school at Duke University this fall.

Jany - Kim and Graham

On a recent trip to Nashville, Jany Brown (1992) met up with good friend and fellow Scholar Kim Hagan (1992) and Graham Van Schaik (2008), who Jany named her son after.

michael tolkin with the feldman family

While on vacation with his family in Tel Aviv, Jason Feldman (1990) was walking down the street and spotted Michael Tolkin (2003) in a cafe!

Albert and Kevin at ComicCon

Albert Lawrence (2003) and Kevin Chung (1990) met up at Comic Con in San Diego.

Alumni Accolades June 2015

Christopher Gray

Christopher Gray (2010), founder of scholarship search engine app Scholly, was honored as Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. The state of Montana has announced that it will be buying Scholly for every rising senior in the state each year!

Ayyan Zubair (2015) is running a youth Iftar (breaking of the fast) for members of all faiths in his hometown of East Meadow, NY.

Julia Li Business Journal

Image: St. Louis Business Journal, Dilip Vishwanat

Julia Li (2006) was recently featured in the St. Louis Business Journal. The article detailed her abrupt career change following her diagnosis of a pituitary adenoma, a benign brain tumor that causes hormonal imbalances. Julia moved back to her hometown of St. Louis to help her parents with the family business, LuLu Seafood, and has had great success. Passionate about building communities, she established Create Space, a community-oriented artisan space for 30 plus different businesses. When asked who she goes to for business advice, Julia was quoted in the article, “I turn to the many mentors I made in New York, through the Kauffman Foundation where I did a free entrepreneurship program called FastTrac that taught the basics of running a business. I’m also mentored by those I met with the Coca-Cola (Scholars) Foundation, when I was named a national Coca-Cola Scholar in high school for giving back to the community.”

Cindy Rajkumar (2015) has been invited to be an innovative speaker and motivational presenter for TEDx’s “Ideas Worth Spreading” show and leadership conference.

2015 Scholars Akintobi “Irvin” Akinseye and Zaria Noble have been named Ron Brown Scholars.

Alumni Connections June 2015

kevin chung 2

group at twitter event

San Francisco Scholars came together for a professional development workshop hosted by Nola Weinstein (2001) and Kevin Chung (1990, pictured at top) at Twitter last week. Nola is Head of Executive Engagement at Twitter and taught alums how to tweet like an executive.


Coca-Cola Scholars in New York City attended the National Academy Foundation’s 12th Annual Benefit as guests of The Coca-Cola Company. The picture above includes Dr. Ayodola Adigun (2002), Melissa Lukasiewicz (2010), Melanie Lyon (2008), Dr. Jack McKinstry (2000), Ashley Chang (2006), and Regina Bain (1990).

Shariff and Kelsey

Kelsey Tainsh (2008) spoke at Odyssey Atlanta where she met 2014 Scholar Shariff Lee Brown.


More than 30 Coca-Cola Scholars got together to welcome the 2015 Scholars who were visiting Stanford! Thank you to Grant Means (2012) who organized the event.

GLAAD awards pic

Robert Accordino (1999) and Joel Bervell (2013) attended the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 9, 2015 as guests of The Coca-Cola Company. They had the pleasure of joining Pam Stewart (Vice President – National Retail Sales, Publix for The Coca-Cola Company) and her wife.

Jillian CC Jane and Sachin

2011 Scholars Jillian Roberts, C.C. Gong, Jane Chung, and Sachin Patel met up at Harvard while Jillian was visiting Boston.

Alumni Accolades May 2015


In 2014, the state of South Dakota established Jolene’s Law in honor of Jolene Loetscher (1997) that created a task force to study child sexual abuse. Despite opposition by some legislators in 2015 to continue the task force, South Dakota’s Governor announced an executive order in March 2015 allowing Jolene’s Law to continue its work. “In my estimation, this work is too important,” Daugaard said. “I’ve heard that from many in the past couple of days who urged that it continue.” The task force is developing recommendations for changes to K-12 curriculum, reporting of child sexual abuse, undergraduate and graduate programs and training for adults to better understand and report child sexual abuse. “I’m so relieved that people cared and that they were able to have their voice heard. There are a lot of people that have suffered that pain that I have, and they want to be sure it doesn’t happen to someone else.” said Jolene.

Molly and Rings

Molly Himmelstein (2008), who works for Google in New York City, won 2 Sports Emmys in the categories of Outstanding New Approaches – Sports Event Coverage and Outstanding New Approaches – Sports Programming with her team from the London Olympics.

Kate Wesler Pippin

Katie Wesler (2010) is touring over the next few months throughout the United States and Japan as part of the National Tour of Pippin. Click here to see if she’s coming to a city near you. Katie and her boyfriend Benjamin are pictured above in front of the Fox Theatre before her last Pippin show in Atlanta. “I had a friend take a pic as I was heading to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Saturday—and Coca-Cola was on the marque! So many thanks to Coca-Cola for helping to sponsor the Atlanta Broadway Series! And I’m thrilled to be a part of this tour!” said Katie.

Dr Kayes

Dr. Andrew Kayes (1991), Medical Director of Maui Diagnostic Imaging, was recently named the Intersociety Private Practice Representative for the American College of Radiology. This title holds a 2 year term that will have him traveling to the mainland for conferences that now puts a Hawaii representative on the front line of all things radiological. Andrew is the first Hawaii radiologist to ever hold this title. “It’s an honor to be chosen to represent the private practice sector and it’s a special moment to have radiologists from Hawaii involved in shaping our field of expertise nationally” he said.

Alissa Anderegg

Alissa Anderegg (2012) was selected as a woman leader of the Alzheimer’s Association’s newest national campaign, Maria Shriver’s Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Challenge, alongside female leaders including Ann Romney, Brooke Shields, and Senator Barbara Mikulski. “This campaign is especially exciting to me because it focuses on the fact that 2/3 of those affected by Alzheimer’s are women. For this achievement, I earned Duke’s inaugural WomC National Impact Award for improving the lives of women on a national scale.” said Alissa.

Erin Muffoletto

Erin Muffoletto (2003) was named by Albuquerque Business First as a Woman of Influence, an award that names some of the most powerful and innovative women in New Mexico. Erin discusses her greatest professional achievements, leadership ability, and how she gives back to the community in Erin Muffoletto.


Scholly, a social enterprise co-founded by 2010 Scholars Christopher Grey and Bryson Alef that allows people to search for college scholarships, is partnering with President Obama’s organization My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which will supply participants free access to the app.

John Paul Adrian (2003) won the The Arthur S. Flemming Award, a national award given by George Washington University in honor of his work with the Air Force. John Paul is currently in charge of the U.S. Defense Forces in Africa.

Kaitlyn Chana (2009), who works for WLBZ in Bangor, ME, will serve as the Master of Ceremony at the 4th annual Celebrating Survivors High Tea for breast cancer survivors hosted by Caring Connections.

Steven Maheshwary (2008) has received a Fulbright Scholarship to be an English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia in 2016.

Alumni Connections May 2015

SF Parade 1SF Parade 2Coca-Cola Scholars in San Francisco were invited to walk beside the Coca-Cola float in the Chinese New Year parade in April. The Coca-Cola float won for “Best Lunar New Year Theme” and will be recognized by the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce on May 8!

Princeton Scholars

Coca-Cola Scholars at Princeton got together for a pizza dinner together before their school year comes to an end. Michael Kochis (2011), Michelle Molner (2012), Sneha Goswami (2011), Adi Chauhan (2013), Douglas Bastidas (2011), Josh Roberts (2013), Judy Hou (2012), Vivian Yao (2013), Manraj Singh (2012), Benjamin Lei (2014), and Megan Abbott (2012) were in attendance.

CASA, Clyde, Judy and Kevin

Kevin Kalra (2004) and Judy Hou (2012) attended the CASAColumbia (Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse) 23rd Annual Awards Dinner on May 6 as guests of The Coca-Cola Company.  They joined Clyde Tuggle, Chief Public Affairs and Communications Officer at The Coca-Cola Company and member of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s Board of Directors, and Donna Cirolia, Vice President, Regional Public Affairs & Communications, Northeast at The Coca-Cola Company.

Alumni Accolades April 2015

Elizabeth Brajevich glamour

Elizabeth Brajevich (2012) is one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women! The story is in the May issue with Michelle Obama on the cover. “I had a great experience last weekend in New York, receiving the award, visiting Google and LinkedIn’s New York offices and talking to high schoolers at Manhattan Bridges School. I am a 2012 Scholar and would encourage all 2013 ladies to apply for this amazing award!” said Elizabeth.

Peter Kim and Jennifer

2011 Scholars Jennifer Mahan and Peter Kim were selected as Senior Marshals for The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Columbia College, respectively, and will be leading the procession at their commencement ceremonies. Senior Marshal is an honor bestowed upon members of the graduating class who have demonstrated achievement in their academics and extracurricular activities as a student at Columbia University. Senior Marshals are worthy of recognition for their personal achievements and for demonstrating what it means to “be a Columbian.”

Elise Stefanik

Rep. Elise Stefanik (2002), discussed her first 100 days in office as the youngest woman elected to Congress, and the unique perspective she brings to Capitol Hill on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Kavita Shukla and Tina Brown at Women in the World Summit 2015

FreshPaper Inventor and Fenugreen Founder/CEO Kavita Shukla (2002) was featured at the 2015 Women in the World Summit, presented by The New York Times and Tina Brown Live Media. (Kavita is pictured above with Tina Brown.) Kavita was recognized for her work on FreshPaper at this event, which gives a platform to global women on the front lines—activists, artists, CEOs, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, and leaders who have saved or enriched lives and shattered glass ceilings in every sector. Participants of the summit included Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Barbra Streisand, Katie Couric, Helen Mirren, Ava DuVernay, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Jon Stewart, Tom Hanks and Aamir Khan.

christopher gray with Kevin plank

Christopher Gray’s (2010) app Scholly won first place in Under Armour‘s pitch competition, winning $75,000 and an additional $5,000 from Salesforce. “It was amazing getting to meet Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank who now wants to invest in our next round. In addition, the City of Memphis has bought Scholly for all of their high school juniors and seniors!” said Christopher.

Amy Malone in North Korea

Amy Malone (2012) traveled to Seoul, South Korea to present a research paper at CHI2015, The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)’s Human-Computer Interaction Conference. “Coca-Cola was everywhere! Even at the DMZ!” Amy said. DMZ is the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

I am here - Anna Delamerced

Anna Delamerced (2012) wrote a piece that was published alongside a collection of stories in an anthology called “I Am Here: The Untold Stories of Everyday People“. The book is available on Amazon. The story she wrote is about a pivotal moment of faith that happened during her first year at Brown University.

Daniel Nguyen (2010) received a Fulbright Award to teach in Macau, China this coming year.

Daron Roberts (1997) was named to the Austin Sports Commission Board of Directors.

2015 Scholars Kawther Berhanu and Amadou Bah have been named Gates Millennium Scholars.

Alumni Connections April 2015


Harvard Selfie

Scholars at Harvard University wasted no time welcoming our newest class from 2015! Groups were able to come together several times during Harvard’s admit weekend.

Scholars at Notre Dame

Coca-Cola Scholars at Notre Dame came together for Coke and pizza at their favorite place, Rocco’s. Pictured left to right: Caitlin Crommett (2011), Zachary Bequette (2013), Christina Gutierrez (2011), Lindsay Renz (2011), Kathleen Krah (2011), and Emily David (2013). Marc Drake (2011) also attended.

Paul Mulligan and Nick Shannon at ASU

Nick Shannon (2012) listened to Paul Mulligan, President of Coca-Cola Refreshments, speak at his college, Arizona State University.

Allen Osgood and Joel Bervell in London

Allen Osgood (2013) visited the London Eye with Joel Bervell (2013) while on their study abroad travels, and Allen stayed with Kevin Shen (2000) during his short stay in London as well.

St Louis Alums

Carolyn Norton, Alumni Relations Manager at CCSF, had coffee with a few Scholars and Alumni in St. Louis while in town.

Sandy Liz Taylor and Taras

Liz Fisher (1996) ran into Sandy Williams, Chairman of Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling and former Chairman of CCSF, and his family at Callaway Gardens while she was celebrating her birthday with her husband and baby girl Taylor.

Gabi visit

erica tuggle

Pregnant 2001 Scholars Gabi Maris and Erica Tuggle both visited the Scholars Foundation for lunch.

Jasmine and kids

Jasmine Taiwo (2003) stopped by our office with her 2 girls Olivia (2) and Zoe (1) during their visit from South Korea.

The Coca-Cola Company invited Jane Chung (2003) to the 15th Annual Cesar Chavez Legacy Awards on March 26, 2015 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.