The COBA Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes Lisa Rose on October 29th

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COBA seeks to provide opportunities for the students and community to hear from Christian leaders in the business world through our COBA Distinguished Speaker Series. In the past few years, we’ve featured Bob McDonald, Mike Duke, and Matt Rose. This October, we’re excited to host Lisa Rose, founder and president of the 501(c)(3) projectHandUp, as COBA’s fall 2015 Distinguished Speaker.

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose

Lisa’s mission is to provide venues where people can find their purpose and learn to fulfill it. After growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, and receiving a degree in Marketing from Texas Tech University, her time in corporate life was in fast-food marketing. She has spent the last 20 years in church women’s ministry leading and equipping women through classes, studies and events. She has served on GRACE’s Advisory Council and at the Dallas County Jail. Lisa currently serves as board member for the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Performing Arts Fort Worth, United Way Homelessness Allocations Committee and was the 2015 Golden Deeds Outstanding Citizen of the Year. She founded First Friday, an event for women, in 2008, and is now committed to the lifelong project of establishing The Gatehouse as a community where women and children in crisis participate in a place and program for permanent change.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse

Lisa Rose is also the founder and Board President of The Gatehouse at Grapevine. The Gatehouse is a $28 million, 61-acre supportive living community designed for women in crisis and their children. The Gatehouse website explains that the community will house up to 96 families and includes a community/conference center, in-neighborhood counseling centers, Keeps Boutique, Hope Chapel, general store, walking trails and commercial space.

Keeps Boutique

Keeps Boutique


This community, which allows members to stay up to 2½ years depending on their individually tailored program, provides safe refuge and creates the environment for women and children in crisis to walk the path toward permanent change.

The Gatehouse community

The Gatehouse community

The idea for The Gatehouse sprung up in part from the First Friday initiative which began in 2008, when Lisa and a group of women began a free, once-a-month experience to give women a practical hand up for life’s challenges. The First Friday experience transformed into the nonprofit projectHandUp, through which the founding leaders could create a way to offer women a hand up that would lead to permanent, positive change: a place where women could be healed and restored as they end needless cycles of poverty, abuse and repetitive prison terms.

General Store

General Store

At that same time, Deborah Lyons, Executive Director at The Gatehouse in Grapevine, had envisioned a fully integrated, non-government funded supportive community for women in crisis. God brought the two women together, and Deborah joined the journey with projectHandUp. Deborah also is the author of the faith-based Independent Life Program used at The Gatehouse.

Community Center

Community Center

In August 2012, projectHandUp purchased 61 acres outside DFW Airport with unanimous Grapevine City Council approval, and the stepping stones were laid for The Gatehouse, a supportive living community where women and their children in crisis can discover a new path for permanent change. The Gatehouse opened in March of 2015.

Join us on October 29th for the Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon beginning at 11:45 am in the Hunter Welcome Center. COBA is providing the opportunity for 100 ACU students to attend the event for free by registering here. General Admission tickets are $20 and may be purchased at this link. If you have questions about the event, please email M.C. Jennings at

Read more about The Gatehouse at this link from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

View the grand opening of The Gatehouse by clicking here.

*Information about The Gatehouse provided in this blog comes directly from The Gatehouse website. Visit their website by clicking this link.

Purchase tickets to the event by clicking on this link.

Social Entrepreneurship Studies at City Square


Sixteen ACU students had the opportunity to study Social Entrepreneurship at City Square in Dallas during a January short course. The class was taught by COBA professor, Dr. Laura Phillips. In the short one-week time period, the class covered a wide range of topics related to starting and running a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit that has a social mission at its core). Speakers who currently run these types of enterprises, as well as those who consult and advise these organizations, came to share with the class about their own unique experiences. In addition, the class included student presentations on various topics and case study discussions. Students were also taken on a tour of City Square, hearing about how the business operates and ways they are trying to expand.


Many of the speakers were ACU alums, including Robyn Wise, Scott Orr, and Don Crisp. Scott Orr, an ACU and COBA grad, has served in many roles for nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies. He is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments.


Scott’s Mantra: Using strengths to accomplish greatness.


Jerita’s Mantra: Bloom where you are planted.

Jerita Howard, an Abilene resident, also came to speak to the class. Jerita is the owner of One Smart Cookie, an online gourmet cookie and brownie gift package company. Like Scott, Jerita has also served in various roles throughout her professional career. Both of these entrepreneurs provided valuable insights on business operations and social enterprises.

DSC_6993Dr. Laura Phillips loved the broad mix of majors that were represented in the class this year. She says, “The class succeeds because of the knowledge, experience, and honesty of the 14 guest speakers. While not all of the students who took the class plan to start a social enterprise, I think all of the students benefited from the class.” After taking the class, she hopes students feel equipped to work with social ventures in the way that fits their life and career goals.


Emily Adkins, a sophomore Pre-Physical Therapy major from Irving, TX, enjoyed taking the class at City Square. She feels like she has learned the basics of social enterprises and that she could comfortably work in this type of environment now. “This class really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way! I love social enterprises and I can see myself working for one some day. Listening to these speakers opened my eyes to how these organizations help people in an effective way.”


Next Stop: COBA Heads to Central America

mission lazarus

Group at the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua.

At the end of the the summer, 18 students along with Dr. Andy Little and Dr. Jim Litton, traveled south to study abroad in Central America. Students had the opportunity to earn credit in Global Entrepreneurship as well as MGMT 440, including special topics: Business Practicum in Central America. COBA also co-taught an Honors College colloquium on social entrepreneurship in developing countries. The group spent the first two days in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, stayed at Mission Lazarus for nine days, and ended the trip in Leon, Nicaragua.


The trip challenged the students to evaluate how they want to conduct business in the future. They were able to use their business skills in social entrepreneurship, learning how to apply these skills in a missional context. Because the group was surrounded by widespread poverty, this study abroad trip was unlike other COBA programs. Working in Central America gave students and professors a chance to see the complexity and difficulties of globalization and economic development in third world countries.

Throughout the trip, students were able to tour local businesses, go behind the scenes with ACU alum Jarrod Brown at Mission Lazarus, visit a local Honduran co-operative coffee company, and speak to several different business leaders in Honduras. Unlike the local co-op, Mission Lazarus had a much smaller profit margin; because of their commitment to operating the business in a godly manner, they strive to treat employees fairly and with dignity.


Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major from Oklahoma City, was highly encouraged by the trip. She believes in the power of the business principles she learned this summer, even if in the future she does not work in social entrepreneurship. Stephanie encourages students to get plugged in and study abroad at some point in their college career. She says, “There are so many incredible things we can learn in a classroom setting, but there’s something about seeing those principles applied firsthand in other countries that makes the learning experience so much more valuable.”

The encounters students get to experience while studying abroad are truly one of a kind. In Central America, students were able to see firsthand how businesses function in developing countries. COBA is intentional with providing students unique opportunities to integrate learning key business principles with developing students to reach their potential and find their missional calling.


“Because each culture is so different, God is able to manifest himself in different ways; studying abroad is so remarkable because not only does it expose you to a new way of learning, but it also gives students the opportunity to see God in an entirely new light,” says Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major.

Students Experience City Square


During January, several COBA students as well as non-business majors took a January short course, Social Entrepreneurship, with Dr. Laura Phillips at City Square in Dallas. In the fall of 2012, ACU began to partner with City Square, combining curricular and co-curricular experiences for student leadership development. CitySquare is a faith-based, non-profit, human and community development corporation that promotes learning and formation through engagement, including projects, courses, internships, formative experiences, and degree programs. Courses at City Square offer opportunities for in-context learning, allowing students to be hands-on outside of the traditional classroom.

During the short course, 18 guests came to speak with students about social organizations and the different pieces that make up these organizations. The class offered a series of breakfast lectures where speakers discussed vital parts of nonprofit businesses that must be considered when working for or starting any nonprofit. Guests speakers, including Suzanne Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Social Impacts Architects and Co-Founder of Flywheel: Social Enterprise Hub, spoke about measuring success from a social perspective. Mark Jacobs, Senior Director of Operations for The Medicines Company, started His Chase Foundation in 2010 and is now focusing all efforts in Rwanda, providing 250+ students with educational opportunities. Mark gave students opportunities to engage and brainstorm ideas for his initiatives in Rwanda. Speakers also addressed questions concerning other aspects of a non-profit organization such as raising funds, the grant application process, how to start a board of members, social media, and the basic business principles included in a financial statement.

The majority of the class was comprised of business majors but all students found the information very useful even if they had no intention of starting an enterprise. Shanleigh Clinton, a nutrition major, says that she was worried the material would not be applicable to her. However, she says, “This class actually helped me understand how to balance mission and margin and how to have a greater impact in what I do.” Shanleigh plans on becoming a registered dietician, partnering with a feeding and nutrition education program and potentially working with a social enterprise.

Chase jon shan al pres 1   Fundraising breakfast 2

Al Shanleigh


From Vietnam to Canada: The International Accomplishments of One COBA Grad

Many of our students wonder where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing five or six years from now. Some imagine that they’ll be accountants or own their own business, and some imagine that they’ll have spouses and children. No matter what their dreams, most of our graduates imagine that they’ll be doing something incredible six years down the road.

The impressive thing is the ones who actually do.

Take Sarah Easter for example.

Sarah Easter

Sarah graduated from ACU in 2006 with a B.B.A. in Management and Marketing. Since then, she has completed an MBA at Rollins College in Florida, worked as a Marketing Specialist for Correct Craft, Inc., worked as a Marketing and Business Development Advisor for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and worked as a Senior Strategy Analyst for Correct Craft, Inc.

Whether you could distinguish it or not, hidden behind all the technical lingo of Sarah’s job titles lies an unbelievable resume for someone who completed their undergraduate degree a mere six years ago.

However, this list alone isn’t what makes Sarah’s career path so incredible. In fact, one of the crowning jewels of her young resume is a case study called “Vietnam Handicraft Initiative: Moving Toward Sustainable Operations.

This case documents Sarah’s time in Vietnam, where she completed a one-year assignment as a business developer and marketing advisor to the Vietnam Handicraft Initiative, a vocational training and employment center for disabled individuals in Vietnam. In this role, Sarah worked hard to overcome cultural differences and language barriers in order to increase the organization’s productivity and sustainability.

A photo taken in Hue, Vietnam, where Sarah worked

To top it all off, Sarah’s case study was published by The Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. Although most of us Americans may not realize it, this publishing company is actually the leading case publisher in Canada.

Impressed yet?

Dr. Monty Lynn, Associate Dean of ACU’s College of Business, certainly is. Not only does Dr. Lynn believe that the publication of Sarah’s case is an “outstanding accomplishment,” he will also be using the case study this spring as a part of one of his classes, ECON 438: International Poverty and Development.

The thing that Dr. Lynn really appreciates about Sarah’s case is the fact that it is documentation of just one student’s impact on the world. As Dr. Lynn points out,

“A lot of students have gone out and done amazing things.”

At COBA, we are passionate about the fact that our students can change the world. That’s why components of the business school like The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy and COBA’s Study Abroad programs are so crucial: they prepare COBA students to work in America, but also around the world; in economic bounty, but also in the third world.

Sarah is currently working on a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria.

Where will you be in six years?

An aerial photo of University of Victoria, where Sarah is pursuing her PhD

Business Meets Missions at Mission Lazarus

What sells coffee, necklaces, leather goods, and carpentry while simultaneously educating children, providing medical care, and employing local people?

Mission Lazarus, of course.

What’s even better than an organization that does everything listed above?

One that serves in the name of Jesus.

“Our projects are a mean to an end. Our end is bringing people to Jesus Christ,” said Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus.

Jarrod, who spent about a decade in Honduras before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, joined professors Andy Little and Monty Lynn this week in a three-part lecture series on social entrepreneurship at ACU’s annual “Summit” conference.

Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus

Social entrepreneurship, which can be defined as mission-driven entrepreneurship with a distinctly social focus, is a rapidly growing segment of the nonprofit landscape. In order to further explore this elusive concept, Drs. Little and Lynn left the textbooks behind and joined Jarrod in providing a unique intersection of principles that have been taught in air-conditioned classrooms but applied in the mountainous jungles of the third world.

As he discussed the rare marriage of business and missions that is Mission Lazarus, Jarrod talked about the dangers often lurking behind short-term missions. As he pointed out, Americans often take advantage of orphaned or impoverished children when they visit for a week, post the highlights of their trip on Facebook, and then return to the States feeling as if they have utterly changed the world.

However, the sad reality is that when Americans go home on emotional, self-congratulatory highs, monetary poverty continues to run rampant throughout the third world.

So how does Mission Lazarus differ from this standard model of self-fulfilling aid work?

It’s structured, in some ways, like a business.

You see, like any successful business, Mission Lazarus is focused on perpetually raising up new leadership, much of which is actually from Honduras. By partnering with local people, Mission Lazarus is able to form relationships and provide mentoring that goes beyond the typical workplace interface and that extends beyond a week. As a result, these relationships provide the opportunity for Christ to be shared through the work Jarrod and his co-workers are doing in Honduras.

COBA Students on a Study Abroad trip to Mission Lazarus

Another business-like aspect of Mission Lazarus is the fact that it actually contains several for-profit agricultural ventures, like a coffee plantation. (To buy Mission Lazarus coffee, click here.) Through these ventures, Mission Lazarus is able to cover 12% of its total expenses…by itself.

This self-sufficiency not only provides donor confidence in where money goes, it also means that as Mission Lazarus needs less and less money to run its current opportunities, it has the chance to continue growing and expanding.

Through this stellar example of social entrepreneurship, Jarrod and his entire team have followed God’s lead and found themselves right in the middle of God’s work in Honduras. As a result, lives are being changed, not just through the provision of food and education, but through the knowledge of who Jesus is and how He can utterly transform lives.

In Tuesday’s session, Dr. Lynn made a profound point: “Development must be both inward and outward.”

At Mission Lazarus, inward and outward development are every day occurrences.

What are you doing to develop yourself as both a leader and a follower of Christ today?

For more information about Mission Lazarus, click here, and to find out more about COBA’s Summer Study Abroad Trip to Mission Lazarus, email Andy Little at or Jim Litton at

COBA Students in Honduras