New College Hosts Create + Innovate Week

Create + Innovate Week, a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit

From the April 2021 Desktop News | To kick off its 50th anniversary celebration, The College of Arts and Science’s New College will host Create + Innovate Week April 12-16. Along with The Edge Incubator and Accelerator, New College will bring together industry leaders and local entrepreneurs to share their stories of success with students, alumni, and friends of New College.

Throughout the week, New College will host speakers in their “How I Made It Here” series, featuring politicians, filmmakers, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs who have made their own path in the world. The week will culminate with the Levitetz Leadership and Innovation Conference, where business leaders and socially-conscious creators will share their stories, and students will compete in a seed grant competition and give presentations on innovative and complex research projects.

“This week really reflects the core values of New College,” said Dr. Natalie Adams, professor in New College. “We want to help students develop passion, drive and direction through close mentoring, out-of-class learning, and encouraging them to take risks.”

During the “How I Made It Here” series, speakers will address the hard work and drive it took to end up where they are now, both in their careers and personally after an unprecedented year changed the operations of many industries.

“We’re asking every speaker to talk about their journeys,” Adams said. “We’re asking them to also talk about how the pandemic affected them both professionally and personally.”

“How I Made It Here” speakers include Charles E. Andrews, the first African-American mayor of Monroeville; Randall Woodfin, mayor of Birmingham; Kelli Masters, an NFL agent; Loren Bendele, a software developer-turned-advisor and philanthropist; Greg Whitely, director of Cheer and Last Chance U; Jeff Augustin, a playwright and filmmaker; and Jeff Levitetz, founder of Purity Wholesale Grocery who established New College’s Levitetz Leadership Program.

The day-long conference consists of several breakout sessions with local business leaders, social innovators, and New College alumni who will discuss everything from how to build a business from scratch to navigating the nonprofit world to marketing oneself.

Following the breakout sessions, participants are encouraged to watch the Levitetz Seed Grant competition, in which student recipients of seed grants will pitch their ideas for products and services to a panel of judges. In each division (creative, social entrepreneurship, for-profit products, and for-profit services), one winner will receive additional funding to develop their idea.

The night will end with a Ted Talk-style presentation from this year’s Light Bulb Research Award winners. These students have developed creative and cutting-edge research projects that they hope will make an impact on society. Jeff Levitetz will close the event with a conversation kicking off New College’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration.

“We want both New College and the Levitetz Leadership program to be a resource for everyone on campus who’s trying to develop their leadership, creativity, innovation, or entrepreneurial spirit,” Adams said. “I hope that participants come away from this week thinking ‘wow, I am so excited about everything I just learned.’”

All of these events are free and open to the public. For more information or to sign up for events, visit the Levitetz Leadership Program website.