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In Good Company

Farbers, Where Are They Now: Michael Fu

Each summer, REDF hosts MBA students from across the country that are passionate about the power of business to transform lives, communities, and our economy. These interns, known as Farber Fellows, are matched with a REDF grantee and work directly with the employment social enterprise staff on a project to support the business and its employees’ long-term success.

To date, we’ve hosted over 180 Farber Summer Fellows who continue to leave their mark on the business, social, and public sectors. In the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with a few of our alumni to see where they are now and what lessons from their work with employment social enterprises they take with them.

First up is Michael Fu, Farber Class of 2017 and Stanford Graduate School of Business alum. Read on to hear how Michael leveraged his time with Northern California business Conservation Corps North Bay to learn about “the business side of social impact work.”

What work do you do today?

I am Director of Product & Behavioral Health Strategy at Hazel Health. In this role, I lead the development and scaling of telemedicine-based mental health services to K-12 students across the country at no cost to families. It’s an incredibly fun role that allows me to draw on the entirety of my personal and professional experiences.

What drew you to that work?

My entire career has been dedicated to supporting communities, specifically the health of marginalized youth and young adults. This passion comes from my own experiences growing up in poverty as a first-generation immigrant, the stories and aspirations of youth and families I’ve met as a teacher and physician, and the impact of mentors and elders who have been doing this work long before me.

What made you apply for and join the Farber program while at Stanford?

I started business school with very little business experience. The Farber program spoke to me because it resonated with my passion for supporting our most vulnerable communities and provided an opportunity to jump headfirst into the business side of social impact work.

What project did you work on during your Farber summer? 

I worked on four projects for Conservation Corps North Bay: 1) feasibility analysis for a new xeriscaping business line 2) customer segmentation and sentiment analysis for existing contracts 3) management team workshop facilitation and 4) social media marketing strategies. I also helped REDF with some early thinking on how to support portfolio organizations on trauma-informed frameworks.

What’s your favorite memory from your Farber summer?

I have two! The first was joining CCNB corps members for a ride-along on a waste pick-up route through state parks. I got to know the youth who staff and manage the business line, got my hands dirty, and explored beautiful areas of the North Bay I’d never been to. I always think about that experience whenever I see the CCNB boot print on bins in state parks.

The second was joining the team in fire fuel reduction work (aka weed whacking). Putting on the equipment and working with the team made me feel like a Ghost Buster. And cutting down tall dry grass is just so satisfying.

What advice do you have for future Farber Summer Fellows? 

Have fun, build relationships, and get out of the office! There are plenty of opportunities during the Farber experience to apply your knowledge and learn new skills. The most unique things about REDF and its portfolio organizations are the people and communities involved. Sometimes taking off your “Farber / consulting hat” is the thing you can do to figure out how to make an impact.

Applications for the 2023 Farber Summer Fellow cohort will open in December – learn more about the program, alumni, and how to apply.

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