A native of Columbus Ohio, Evan graduated in 2023 with a BA in Computer Science and Philosophy, and a minor in Economics and Finance from Bowdoin College in Brunswick Maine. He completed Honors Projects in both Computer Science and Philosophy and also worked on an agent-based model of asset markets for his computer science professor, Dr. Mohammad Irfan. Evan developed a passion for innovative market exchanges of products and services that could be used by small businesses across industries starting with the U.S. Defense Industrial Base (DIB).
Evan’s personal interest in Community Commerce Hubs for Innovation grew as he watched his grandfather, a retired precision machinist, and a team of volunteer experts rebuild a World War II-era Boeing B-17 based on salvaged parts. As Evan supports small businesses to benefit from AI and big data-based tools, he will rely on skills he honed in his campus job as a Learning Assistant helping fellow students grasp new concepts and overcome coding challenges. Evan also draws on teamwork and mutual mentoring skills developed in two non-academic focuses: first as a Heavyweight Rower with Bowdoin Rowing, where he helped the team achieve its first national championship; and second as founder of the Bowdoin Polar Investment Club which taught the basics of personal finance and became one of the College’s most active organizations.
Excerpt from Evan’s nomination to the Mary S. Peake Fellowship Selection Committee:
“It is with great enthusiasm and excitement that I nominate Evan Albers ’23 for the Peake Fellowship on behalf of Bowdoin College and President Safa Zaki. Evan is a gifted individual with a unique set of skills and interests. He was one of my most outstanding students at Bowdoin College…I have also done research with him for a year and a half and advised his computer science Honors Project…Evan is not only a standout student and researcher but also a natural leader and entrepreneur who has a great understanding of the social and cultural issues in community building.
Dr. Mohammad T. Irfan
John F. and Dorothy H. Magee Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies
Director of Digital and Computational Studies Program
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Larson grew up inspired by entrepreneurs in his family. Larson’s father founded a local tea shop specializing in imported blends that cultivated Larson’s own passion for small business and logistics. The shop gave Larson a chance to help his dad innovate every day across all parts of the operation where he also assumed the role of Ashford Tea Company’s Social Media Manager.
Larson went on to study logistics at Savannah State University as a student athlete. College honed his ability to multitask as a President’s Academic List student and Co-Captain of the Men’s Basketball Team. Larson was recognized for his role in boosting Savannah State’s enrollment with a 1st Place Marketing Group Project Award, and his Savannah State Tigers became the Men’s Basketball SIAC Conference Champion.
Professionally, Larson served as a Communications & Clinical Outreach Linkages Manager for the city’s Healthy Savannah project.
Larson earned a Bachelors in International Business and Logistics graduating Magna Cum Laude from Savannah State University in 2021. He is a May 2023 Savannah State Masters in Business candidate and is finishing his last year playing NCAA Division II basketball. Larson views his Peake Fellowship as a way to strengthen community business ecosystems by geography and industry at the same time that he strengthens his data analytics skills.
Excerpt from Larson’s nomination to the Mary S. Peake Fellowship Selection Committee:
“It is with great enthusiasm and excitement that I nominate W. Larson Ashford for the Peake Fellowship on behalf of Savannah State University and President Kimberly Ballard-Washington. Larson is an outstanding person with passion, energy, and determination to excel as a scholar at Savannah State University.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach
Savannah State University
In 2023, Tyler completed her one-year Peake Fellowship after successfully supporting small business upskilling across Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity best practices. She now serves as the Peake Fellowship Joint Innovation Coordinator where she coaches Fellows and Navigators on their ongoing progress and supports the Peake Fellowship’s range of applied learning and teaching initiatives.
Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Tyler’s passion for entrepreneurship goes as far back as she can remember. As a student at Savannah State University, Tyler co-founded TigerCo Marketing, an initiative that took an inventor’s hot sauce to market with local stores. All of the company’s profits go toward a micro-loan program for other students at Savannah State. The overall TigerCo initiative, which was highlighted on the cover of Founder Magazine, has become a blueprint for rallying community support and joint innovation. As part of her service learning, Tyler also co-created an online marketplace for goods from student entrepreneurs across the campus. Beyond her interest in community commerce, Tyler also served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in 2021 and received a Coca-Cola United Bottling Company Internship & Scholarship in 2020. Tyler is a graduate of Savannah State University where she earned a Bachelors in Business Administration in December 2020 and an MBA in May 2022. Tyler is currently an evening graduate student in Cyberpsychology at Norfolk State University.
Excerpt from Tyler’s nomination to the Mary S. Peake Fellowship Selection Committee:
“It is with great pleasure that I nominate Tyler Holloway for the Peake Fellowship on behalf of Savannah State University and President Kimberly Ballard-Washington. Tyler is a passionate, determined student who has repeatedly proven to be a dedicated and reliable scholar. I have no doubt that she will be an asset to the program.”
Dr. Shalonda Mullgrav
Interim Vice President of University Advancement
Dean of the College of Business Administration
Savannah State University
Mason Costa saw his Fellowship as a chance to help small & local businesses use social media and cybersecure operations to accelerate their Post-COVID recovery and reinvention. Born and raised in Dedham, Massachusetts, Mason graduated from West Virginia University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, and a minor in Communications. At WVU, Mason developed a passion for creating stronger community connections through social media, video, and photography. In addition to Mason’s work behind the camera, he helped launch the on-air television program, WVU News, as an anchor and beat reporter. He used his broadcasts to share the campus experience through live broadcasts aired on the PBS station for northern West Virginia.
Mason’s understanding of social media outreach helped him promote his own services as a campus DJ for university events and local nightclubs. He also volunteered as Social Media Chair for his fraternity where he improved recruitment numbers and profiled member achievements. After graduation, Mason took a media and technology support role for mass events at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts which was interrupted by the pandemic.
Mason’s experience in journalism and new media technologies as well as his experiences working in neighborhood businesses led him to Peake Fellowship as a Research Associate prior to his selection as a Fellow. In that research role, he joined a Community Commerce Project focused on collaboration among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and regional colleges. One particular focus of Mason’s work has been to support Black-owned businesses in West Virginia and Massachusetts as part of a larger project across the 50 states and five territories. Based on that experience, Mason will continue supporting those projects as he helps local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community he serves.
Born and raised in Hull, Massachusetts, Hannah attended University of Massachusetts Amherst where she graduated with a B.A. in Communication. Hannah worked her way through school in retail, restaurant, and day care center roles. From those experiences and looking forward, she developed a passion for helping local businesses. Coming from a tight-knit small town, Hannah sees the Fellowship as a chance to strengthen community connection across geographies and markets through outreach and engagement, ecommerce, web operations, and cybersecurity.
Em served as one of the first Peake Pilot Program Fellows after being nominated as a graduating college senior by two local chambers of commerce. Em’s longtime interests in social media, data analysis, local businesses, and organizational challenges, and team dynamics made the Fellowship a natural fit.
Em grew up in Northfield, Minnesota where their father ran an independent grocery store and participated actively in the local chamber. Em worked through college focused on trend analysis as a Data Support Specialist for a local insurance company. Em played varsity soccer and graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Sociology.
In 2019, Em returned to the Peake Fellowship Development Team after serving as a senior business analyst and operations management for Union Street Media, a cutting-edge provider of digital marketing services. At Union Street Media, Em specialized in business analysis and leading cross functional teams. As the Peake Fellowship Team & Venly’s Business Metrics Lead, Em supported all Peake Fellowship clients, Fellows, and Coaches to accelerate their measurable growth. Em focused on all four Peake Fellowship business tracks to improve outreach & engagement, community commerce innovation & transactions, web-based operations, and cybersecurity.
See below for a retrospective on Em’s Fellowship year and a description of the cool job that came next.
Born and raised in Central Massachusetts, Emily grew up in a tight knit family who inspired her when they created a small family business. Emily saw her Venly Fellowship as a chance to help local business grow by applying her passion for the area and her skills as a writer, artist, and social media expert. Emily graduated with a BA in English from Worcester State University in May 2014.
Originally from Arcadia, California, Caroline came to Boston and fell in love with her new home. She graduated from Boston University in May 2017 with a B.S. in Journalism. In addition to her studies, Caroline wrote for Boston University’s award-winning independent student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. She also managed social media for diverse clients from a community college district to a children’s publishing imprint at Scholastic. Caroline also used her outreach expertise to lead a record-setting college fundraising campaign for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Now Caroline will apply her experiences to help local businesses grow and share their stories more effectively. Fluent in Mandarin, Caroline also speaks conversational Spanish.
Tessa completed her own Fellowship in 2021 before starting as the Fellowship Program’s Coaching Design Specialist and taking on an international community-led development role with the Chain Collaborative. As the Chain Collaborative’s Program Manager reporting to the Executive Director, Tessa supports coffee growers as they design and execute sustainable development projects in their own communities and they improve the value chain as a whole from crop to cup.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Tessa has believed in social media’s ability to empower local businesses since first working with Venly as a Research Associate during her senior year at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Tessa continued to develop for-profit and nonprofit social media strategies for organizations that support their communities both locally and internationally. Her Spanish fluency has helped her work on best practices for local businesses as Fellowship Applied Learning Partners in over 100 Community Commerce Market Categories. Tessa graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from Barnard College with a double major in Political Science / Spanish & Latin American Cultures. In addition to her other roles, Tessa is completing an online M.S. in Community and Organizational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin.
Amy Sauber comes to Venly as a consultant and manager for small businesses with roots in the Carolinas and New England. She also draws on her experience as an award-winning (PEN America) writer and an educator for seaport operators. Amy loves working at the intersection of these passions to help local businesses grow. At Venly, her focus is sparking new ways for online and in-person applied learning to best serve the goals of each client and Fellow. Amy earned a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from the College of Charleston, and an M.F.A. in writing from the University of New Hampshire.