Abby Falik is an award-winning social entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Global Citizen Year — a nonprofit using the power of a global immersion between high school and college to unlock curiosity, conviction, and courage in our next generation leaders.
Initially conceived when Abby graduated from high school and was looking for – but couldn’t find – an opportunity to immerse herself in the world beyond the classroom, Global Citizen Year launched a decade later when she won first place at Harvard Business School’s Pitch for Change competition. From there, she moved to the Bay Area, where she secured seed investments from leading venture philanthropies including the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the MindTrust, the Nike Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.
Since Global Citizen Year’s launch in 2010, under Abby’s leadership, the organization has grown ten-fold. Today, nearly 1,000 alumni are thriving in college and careers, and have been honored as Fulbright Scholars, Davis Peace Prize winners, Gates Millennium Scholars, and Teach For America corps members. Abby has led the team in raising over $25M in seed capital from a growing roster of funders and partners, and in earning over $10M in revenue from tuition and partnership fees. She’s built a talented global team, advisory council, and board of directors, and the organization has been featured in prominent forums from the PBS NewsHour to the Goldman Sachs’ Builders & Innovators Summit, and by thought leaders including Katie Couric and Nicholas Kristof.
Through Global Citizen Year’s advocacy, colleges have begun to encourage, accredit, and fund gap years. They have built partnerships with over a dozen leading colleges, including Duke, Tufts, and The University of Chicago, around joint admissions, funding, and course-credit. In 2018, Abby and her colleagues co-founded the Gap Year Research Consortium, which unites top schools to gather data that has the potential to disrupt our educational paradigm.
Prior to founding Global Citizen Year, Abby applied her entrepreneurial instincts to educational initiatives in the U.S. and around the world. She was an early team member at College Track, an organization focused on ensuring college success for low-income students, as well as a strategic advisor to Room to Read, an organization that helps build literacy skills in Africa and Asia. During her tenure at NetAid, which was later acquired by Mercy Corps, she designed and launched a flagship initiative to engage U.S. high school students in the fight to end global poverty. The program she developed reached over 100,000 students across the U.S. and has since expanded to six countries.
A recognized expert on social innovation, leadership, and the changing landscape of education, Abby has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Abby is a frequent speaker and has been featured at forums including the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Obama Foundation Summit, the Fast Company Innovation Festival, PopTech, and The Nantucket Project. In 2018, Abby was named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers by The Business of Giving.
In 2019 she was named one of Goldman Sachs’ Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs for the third consecutive year, and in 2016 Fast Company named her one of the Most Creative People in Business. For her achievements as a social entrepreneur, she has been recognized as an Ashoka Fellow, a MindTrust Fellow, and a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur.
She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of World Learning, Teach for All, and Harvard Business School. Abby received a B.A. in International Relations and an M.A. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University. She received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Abby lives in the Bay Area with her husband, Joel Segre, and her sons, Rio and Luca. To learn more about her work, visit globalcitizenyear.org.
Episode #1530 Abby Falik: Your Most Authentic Life Experience
We then walk through tangible practices, from minute-meditations to digital sabbaths, that enable us to navigate our lives with clarity, courage, and conviction.
We also explore how to trade our addiction to achievement for lasting meaning and why we should focus on how we want to feel, instead of what we want to do, when we think about our future.