The Social Work Entrepreneur: A Series Highlighting Alumni Who Have Created Their Own Businesses and Organizations

Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu, PhD, MSW, BCC
Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu, PhD, MSW, BCC

Alumna Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu, PhD ’13, Enters the For-Profit World

Unlike most students pursuing doctoral education, Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu knew before starting a doctorate program that she did not plan to pursue a tenure-track professorship. During her program and following it, she recognized that her research, evaluation, and coaching skills could be useful and marketed to a broad range of organizations and individuals. When she completed her degree she worked in a variety of settings including healthcare systems, start-up companies, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots coalitions culminating in the start of her own company: Explore, Create, Evaluate (ECE)Partners, LLC and a subdivision called The Purposeful PhD (TPP).

ECE Partners offers a range of services to organizations and individuals interested in “exploring ideas, creating strategic opportunities, and evaluating results.” Most recently, Rebecca directed a four-agency statewide collaborative evaluating its progress toward social impact and sharing lessons learned with diverse stakeholder audiences. She has also supported the development and evaluation of several programs ranging from the disproportionate burden of cancer in medically under-served communities to the health and informational needs of Latino parents of children with autism.

ECE LogoTPP grew out of Rebecca’s understanding that for many soon-to-be PhDs, as well as those who have already completed their education, a willingness to explore career options is becoming a necessity.

“More students are graduating with PhDs than ever before,” She explains. “They are exploring career options beyond the tenure track and have questions about how their skills and expertise will translate in the academic, governmental, nonprofit and private sectors. Yet universities across the country are struggling to prepare students for a diversity of careers. For decades, PhD students have been readied for professorships that do not match the number of today’s graduates.”

Through her work with universities and other organizations, current and former doctoral students, and a forthcoming workbook, The Purposeful PhD, she addresses a growing need in the educational community.

A willingness to take your social work skills and expertise into the private, for-profit sector takes courage. Yet, as Rebecca explains, the willingness to use expertise and skills outside of more traditional careers, empowers social workers to bring a social justice perspective across sectors.

Note: We’d like to hear from other alums who have started their own businesses and organizations. Please contact Mel Morgenbesser, to share your experience