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Sonoma State Launches First "Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit" Course

August 21, 2013 1:41 PM


Sonoma State Launches First "Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit" Course

Rohnert Park, CA- On Monday, August 26, the four-session course "Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit" will officially take off in Schulz 3001 at 6:00 p.m., signifying a ground-breaking collaboration between the School of Education and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University. With an emphasis on introducing entrepreneurialism in classrooms, the course is open to the public and will seamlessly integrate two vocations that were once considered completely separate.

 "We're trying to demystify the word 'entrepreneur,'" said Sonoma State's Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mark Nelson. "Entrepreneurs are everywhere. We want to broaden the definition so people are less intimidated by it."

Nelson is working closely with Dr. Paul Porter, professor of educational leadership at Sonoma State, to develop and teach the course. Acting as a follow-up to Sir Ken Robinson's inspirational speech to Sonoma County educators this past June, Nelson and Porter hope the course inspires entrepreneurial thinking in education - both in educators' approaches to teaching and in the integration of entrepreneurial modeling in the classroom.

 "Too often, teachers find themselves stuck in a routine," said Porter. "I want teachers and educators to serve as 'edu-preneurs.' They find opportunities for change and make the most out of them."

The course meets Mondays on August 26, September 9, September 23 and October 7 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. It will cover a wide scope of topics, including increasing intimate communication in a technology-driven world, personal planning, networking with colleagues and real-life examples of entrepreneurship. Each class meeting will feature presentations by one or two local innovators, followed by a Q&A session and discussion. Afterward, students will break into small groups and discuss how to apply the lessons to their individual action plans. They will then present their personal plans to each other at the final course meeting, continuing the effort to inspire ideas, stimulate peers and network with each other.

Jennie Snyder, superintendent of Piner-Olivet Union School District, and Dan Blake, director of innovations and partnerships at Sonoma County Office of Education, join Nelson and Porter on the course's instructional team. Nelson said the mix of career backgrounds among team members was intentional, representative of what entrepreneurs' lives should be. "We're all students learning from one another," he said.

Both Porter and Nelson are excited about the future of the course, but as entrepreneurs themselves, they understand that with new opportunities for success come risks for failure.

"There will be setbacks; it's a learning experience," said Porter.

With so many students unable to find jobs, Nelson hopes to create a better alignment between the jobs that are offered after graduation and how students are prepared to approach opportunities.

 "Never in history has lifelong learning been so important," said Nelson. "Ask yourself, 'What am I doing to improve as a human being and to become relevant to both my passions and the marketplace?' Those two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive."


"Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit" is open to the public and will be taught in Schulz 3001 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on August 26, September 9, September 23 and October 7. The course fee is $50. Students must register for the course here:

For more information, please contact:

Annemarie Brown, 707-664-2221,

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy.  Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond.  Creating a vibrant community, developing a sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, and developing and delivering innovative programs and processes are express goals for its campus-wide, community-reaching entrepreneurship initiative.  With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1,500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. For more information, visit

About Sonoma State University School of Education
The School of Education is a professional school dedicated to the education of new and experienced teachers, administrators and other school specialists. Its programs prepare candidates for basic teaching credentials in elementary, middle/secondary, special education and academic programs in the field of Early Childhood Education; service credentials in administration and school counseling also are offered. The School of Education offers advanced study through its Master's Degree programs and Joint Doctoral program in Educational Leadership.

The mission of the School of Education at Sonoma State University is to advance excellence in the education profession through the professional preparation of teachers and educational leaders. Central to this mission is the offering of exemplary professional education programs based on sound theory and practice, current research, sensitivity to the needs of P-12 education, appreciation for diversity, and respect for all learners. It also includes the School's active role in the social and educational growth of the communities it serves through various partnerships, projects, and initiatives.

About the "Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit" instructional team
Prior to establishing an entrepreneurial capital, advisory and consulting firm in April of 2009 (, Mark Nelson spent twenty years building businesses for the Nelson Family of Companies (NFC), a workforce management and talent acquisition company based in Northern California.

Dr. Porter is a faculty member in the Educational Leadership program and formerly served as an elementary and secondary school principal, director of special education, SELPA director, and school superintendent for 17 years.

Jennie Snyder is the superintendent of the Piner-Olivet Union School District in Santa Rosa, California. Prior to becoming a superintendent, she worked as a school principal, charter school site administrator, a middle school humanities teacher and teacher leader with the California Reading and Literature Project.

Dan Blake is the director of innovation and partnerships of the Sonoma County Office of Education. He is also the representative of, an emerging partnership between public and private educational institutions and the larger community devoted to exploring the research, theory and practice of 21st century teaching and learning.

Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 16235