Lifting Where She Stands
PROVO, Utah – May 02, 2022 – “Lift where you stand” is Eva Witesman’s life motto. This guidance directs her efforts, whether she is teaching classes at the BYU Marriott School of Business or helping businesses with their social responsibility efforts.
Witesman’s journey to becoming an associate professor at BYU Marriott began with nonprofits. “I did a lot of service work with nonprofits while I was a student at the University of Utah. As a result, the only jobs that interested me after my undergrad were government and nonprofit jobs,” she explains.
After graduating from the University of Utah in 2000 with a degree in university studies, Witesman accepted a position with the Waterford Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to accessible early education. She designed math and science classes, along with writing children’s books.
Despite her initial background in working with nonprofits, Witesman now focuses on corporate social responsibility, a sector that she came to appreciate over time. Her shift began when she felt prompted to become a professor, specifically at BYU, after finishing a PhD in public management and policy analysis at Indiana University Bloomington in 2009, which she had earned to further her career opportunities.
Shortly after starting at BYU Marriott, an experience with a fellow faculty member began opening Witesman’s perspective on corporate social responsibility. “In a faculty meeting, a professor raised his hand and said, ‘I believe businesses have the greatest potential to lift humanity compared to other institutions.’ I was surprised because my whole background and paradigm had been ‘that’s the work of nonprofits,’” Witesman explains. “That single statement caused me to reconsider my philosophy.
“‘Lift where you stand’ is a framework I use a lot in deciding where I’m going to focus my attention and determining what action I’m going to take to solve problems,” she continues. “When I began to consider corporate social responsibility, I realized I could lift in that field as well.”
After a few years of thinking over the new idea, Witesman led a directed readings course in 2018 for then MBA student Jill Piacitelli. Together, the pair researched potential careers in helping businesses use their profits not just for outside philanthropy but also for internal improvements that make a difference in companies’ areas of expertise. That experience was illustrative of Witesman’s hallmark hands-on teaching approach. “What’s fun about the way I teach is I’m often creating with students,” she says. “We’re discovering, learning, and lifting together in each new context.”
Witesman and Piacitelli, who is now an adjunct professor at BYU Marriott’s Ballard Center for Social Impact, continue to work together. The pair teach both an MBA class and an undergraduate class resulting from their research; both classes emphasize corporate social strategy. The lessons Witesman learned also helped solidify her own knowledge about how corporations can help others.
With her current endeavors, Witesman appreciates her ability to have a broad reach on various social impact causes. “At BYU Marriott, I can help many companies at a time instead of just one,” she explains. “I have worked with nearly 200 organizations, and I have influenced hundreds more by educating future leaders and personally leading, mentoring, and lifting student employees and volunteers.”
Beyond the classroom, Witesman finds other ways to “lift where she stands.” In addition to her work teaching, Witesman runs BYU’s Antiracism Database, provides pro bono social impact consulting through BYU Marriott’s MPA program, and helps with various projects outside the university. “Starting those projects was a moment of asking myself, ‘Where do I stand?’ BYU and the surrounding community is a space I want to help improve, so I considered my skills and what I could bring to issues,” she explains.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller