Warrington alumni are making the world a better place through their passion for positive change. Here are two Business Gators whose work is truly having a global impact.
Nicol Perez’s (BSBA ’14) social involvement as a Warrington student—on a global scale—was impressive. From teaching aspiring entrepreneurs in Guatemala to aiding underprivileged youths in Uganda, her efforts were remarkable.
Perez’s commitment to global and social change has continued, and recently resulted in a prominent and exclusive role as U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations.
Perez’s passion for international causes began at UF as a member of Nourish International, a network of student-led chapters at U.S. colleges and universities addressing global poverty through social entrepreneurship. Her time with the organization made an indelible impact.
“It changed my life,” she said.
Perez, 23, wanted to continue her social involvement when she began her career at Nielsen in New York. She said the United Nations was an obvious choice because it was headquartered there. She Googled “How to get involved with the UN,” and came across the Youth Observer Program.
Perez, now a Product Marketing and Communications Associate at Instagram in Silicon Valley, was selected from a pool of more than 350 applicants. She attends UN meetings and related activities, visits United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) chapters around the country, and empowers youth involvement in global issues.
“Right now we’re showcasing projects young people are doing around the country dealing with many important issues,” Perez said. “We want other young people to see these projects and say, ‘If they can do it, I can do it,’ and inspire them to take action.”
Perez said her top priorities are to provide information regarding economic development and the refugee crisis—two issues especially meaningful to her. Her family emigrated from Bolivia in 2000 when Perez was 7 years old. The family settled in Miami, and Perez said making ends meet were difficult.
“My parents and I struggled at lot when we came to the U.S.,” Perez said. “We moved because we didn’t have any economic opportunities in Bolivia, and my parents wanted me to get an American education.”
Although solving issues like economic inequality and the refugee crisis are not easy, Perez said she is encouraged by the idealism of her peers whom she’s met in her travels.
“They see a problem, and they want to tackle it,” Perez sad. “This younger generation is so much more aware of these global issues.”
Progress is being made, and Perez has witnessed it firsthand in her new role. In December 2015, the UN passed Resolution 2250, a measure addressing violent extremism in developing countries. The resolution calls for “the participation and views of youth to be taken into account during the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements...” The inclusion of the youth voice is imperative, Perez said, because young people comprise the majority of populations in developing countries. Additionally, Perez has participated in meetings with private companies that aspire to grow in a sustainable manner and positively impact their communities.
Five years of working in corporate accounting was beginning to wear on Dan Barash (BSAc ’99, MAcc ’99), and he wondered if he’d ever find true career fulfillment.
Those days are thankfully gone. Barash traded helping Fortune 500 companies for helping children and preventing human rights abuses, and he couldn’t be happier with his career pivot.
After graduating from the Fisher School of Accounting, Barash joined then-Big 5 accounting firm Arthur Andersen. The 12-hour days, working on weekends, and non-collegial environment made for an unfulfilling career.
“I felt pressure to go to a big firm because all my peers were doing it,” said Barash, 39. “It’s an amazing thing to have on your résumé, but I was miserable. It also didn’t help being a super liberal person in a super conservative culture.”
Barash left Arthur Andersen for NEGT, a subsidiary of Pacific Gas & Electric, but remained dissatisfied professionally. He was laid off in 2004, and was searching for a new path. That’s when he began volunteering at a children’s advocacy nonprofit in the Washington D.C. area.
“Toward the end of my time at PG&E, I wondered what the nonprofit world would be like,” Barash said. “My girlfriend, now my wife, was also encouraging me so I decided to give it a try.”
The executive director of that nonprofit forwarded Barash’s résumé to her peers. Barash, who at the time was on an eight-month trip around the world, was offered the position of Director of Finance with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids without an interview. He spent nine years there where contributions doubled during Barash’s tenure.
Barash now serves as Finance Director at EarthRights International, a global nonprofit dedicated to the defense of human rights and the environment. He oversees the organization’s financial operations, which includes coordinating with offices in Washington D.C., Myanmar, Thailand, and Peru.
While the position has its stresses, Barash and his co-workers receive reminders of the important work they’re doing. At their monthly staff meetings, the group watches the newest “Faces of Change” video, which spotlights an EarthRights partner making a difference in the world.
“There’s something tangible to what I’m doing now,” Barash said. “I feel good at the end of the day.”