> About Us

Who We Are

Humanity Rising is a movement to create a better world through service. We inspire, empower, and reward students for making a difference in their communities.

“Service is at the core of humanity. It creates empathy, compassion, self-esteem, greater human connection – and a shared sense of responsibility for one another.”   – The Humanity Rising Team

Our Mission & Core Values

Our mission is to build the next generation of leaders and social innovators. We value Passion, Integrity, Kindness, Service, Education, and Collaboration over Competition

Our Model

We launch Humanity Rising Service Challenges to mobilize students around featured causes, capture and share service stories to inspire peers in communities everywhere, and award scholarships for outstanding service.

Our Team


Debbie Ferruzzi

is CEO of Humanity Rising and has been passionately involved in entrepreneurism and socially conscious activities for most of her professional life. She enjoyed a 25-year career working for legendary real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell, and during her role as Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Equity Office, in addition to overseeing strategic planning, Debbie also developed and led the company's philanthropic programs to engage employees across the country in meaningful service projects. Believing that “one story can change the world,” Debbie steered the BeCause Foundation, a Chicago based nonprofit, as it produced five independent documentary films and related strategic impact campaigns. The theatrically released film “Bully” helped shine national attention on the bullying crisis in America. Debbie was also the driving force that led to 121help.me, the new North American crisis helpline for at risk children. A Chicago native, Debbie obtained an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Chicago and a BS in business from Eastern Illinois University.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to bring people together through Humanity Rising. I am inspired daily by the acts of service and volunteerism performed by students who have become part of the Humanity Rising movement, and believe that young people truly have the power to change the world."

Chief Operations Officer

Mark Jacobs

is COO of Humanity Rising and our scholarship / student lending expert. Over his professional career, he has worked for the nonprofit and for profit leaders in education finance including USA Funds, Sallie Mae, and Goal Financial. His past experience also includes volunteer work for College Parents of America and operation of Discus Awards, a national high school recognition and scholarship program that accepted more than 120,000 applications and awarded over $15 million in scholarships during a two year span. Mark derives significant satisfaction knowing his professional work is tightly aligned with his personal passion of making a difference in communities across the country while helping students afford a college education. He received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and master's degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
“It is an honor to play a small role in the Humanity Rising movement that will mean so much to so many.”


Dan Toplitt

is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Supervisor with Resolution Media, an Omnicom digital marketing agency in New York. Prior to joining Resolution Media, Dan was a Co-Founder and Vice President of Program Operations of Scholarship Strategies, the owner and operater of the Discus Awards program. He helped manage program operations and attract outstanding high school student applicants through SEO, SEM, social media and email marketing campaigns. Before working at Scholarship Strategies, Dan helped launch the Discus Awards program at Campus Direct. Dan received a BS in marketing from Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business.


Maja Muric

is a is a former professional tennis player and Olympian from Croatia, a war torn country that has inspired her to drive positive change around the world. When the war broke out in Croatia in 1991 Maja was 17 years old. She was one of the top juniors in the world and at the beginning of her professional tennis career on the WTA (Women's Professional Tour). Experiencing war has had a huge impact on her tennis career, but more so, on her ambitions to have a positive lasting impact on others. Maja represented Croatia around the world by winning many international junior events and then as a professional tennis player for over a decade. Some of those events include all the Grand Slams, 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and Federation Cups. Winning two medals at the 1993 Mediterranean Games was one of the most memorable moments of her career as it was the first time Croatia competed as an independent country. Maja continued to play on the WTA Tour until the end of her career in 2000 when she dedicated the next 12 years to helping improve the quality of life for children with cancer. These experiences inspired her to expand her work and start her own not for profit organization in 2005 called Humanitarian Wave that works towards creating lasting positive effect in the quality of life of people and communities in need. In 2012 Maja took on her current role as the lead of Galactic Unite, a Virgin Galactic initiative that is harnessing the power of space to inspire and support the next generation to help solve many of our greatest global challenges. Maja is passionate about Galactic Unite and its unique opportunity to help change the perception of our place on this planet and in the cosmos through removing the barriers which have historically kept all but the elite few firmly on this side of the final frontier.


Therese Rowley, Ph.D.

Dr. Rowley is CEO of Accelerated Alignment, a trusted advisor to business leaders and executives. She partners with them through complex challenges of personal and organizational strategy and transformation, using innovative approaches and intuitive intelligence. As a skilled intuitive, she supports strategic decisions with intuitive data and supports leaders to deepen their access to intuition. In addition, her work with Fortune 500 as well as small company leaders in facilitating large scale change in industries such as telecommunications, manufacturing, market research, marketing/communications, real estate development, and financial services spans three decades. In 2008 Dr. Rowley founded The Conscious Business Network™ to highlight new business models and facilitate professional connections that are shaping the new marketplace of integrity, transparency and inclusion. She consults with YWCA-Chicago on Transformation and Social Innovation and is an 1871 Mentor. She believes conscious business and social enterprise are marketplace foundations for our future sustainability and is passionate about influencing youth to consider this mindset and have/co-create the tools to engage and co-design the future economy. Dr. Rowley has been adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco, the University of Chicago Graham School and Booth School’s LEAD Institute, as well as Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies where she teaches on topics of leadership, strategy, intuition and transformation. Her book Mapping a New Reality: Discovering Intuitive Intelligence offers a conceptual foundation and developmental opportunities for clients who want to accelerate access to their innate wisdom.


Allison T. Davis

is a former director of Humanity Rising and a vice president of Equity International, with her primary responsibilities in communications. Previously, Allison directed communications and philanthropic programs at Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP) for seven years. During that time she worked with EOP leaders in such major U.S. markets as New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver to develop volunteer and giving programs that directly involved employees and benefited their local communities. During her time at EOP, the company was regularly recognized as a Best Place to Work in local markets, thanks to high levels of employee engagement fostered by internal communications. She holds an MS in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University and a BA from Duke University.


Beth Coronelli

is a former director of Humanity Rising now serving as an advisor to the organization. She previously was Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff at Apollo Education Group, one of the world's largest private education providers. Her experience includes a mix of corporate and non-profit positions, including leading investor relations for publicly-traded companies across a range of industries, serving as the director of the University of Iowa Executive MBA Program, and developing communications and programming for Rotary International. Beth believes education is the cornerstone to building a brighter future and is committed to empowering our future leaders to take the initiative to serve. She has an MBA from the University of Iowa and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Iowa State University.


Jody Rowley

Jody is retired from 28 years of teaching in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Throughout her teaching career and now in retirement, volunteerism is a priority. She works with the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation in Chicago, conducting interviews with potential scholarships recipients. In addition, she teaches a weekly class to dementia patients at a local nursing home. Jody serves as an educational consultant with Humanity Rising. Throughout the summer of 2014, she worked with a group of students at George Westinghouse College Preparatory High School. Through discussion and review of current pertinent resources, the students designed an anti-bullying service challenge for their school. Their summer efforts have evolved into a Culture of Kindness and Respect Club.

College Intern

Lauren Poulson

Lauren is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, double majoring in Linguistics and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is from Seattle, Washington and is passionate about refugee and immigrant rights and mental health advocacy.

College Intern

Yovanny Doble

Born and raised in Chicago, Yovanny is a third year student at the University of Chicago majoring in psychology. After two years of college he took two years off to serve for the educational non-profit, City Year Chicago. Through that experience Yovanny realized his passion for working with students and hopes to continue positively impacting students in some capacity after college.

College Intern

Kyle Lee

As a first year student at University of Chicago, Kyle has wasted little time getting involved with extracurricular activities. In addition to studying economics, he is a hurdler on the T&F team, member of the Questbridge network, and a part of Asian American Intervarsity, a Christian group on campus. Kyle's passion for nonprofit work started his junior year of high school when he founded Education for Education, a tutoring organization supporting low income students in their educational endeavors. When not attending classes, working for Humanity Rising, or participating in his other activities, Kyle enjoys discussing politics, philosophy, or the Philadelphia Eagles.