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Arshad Merchant, Founder and Managing Director

Arshad Merchant recently founded Boost Social Sector Consulting to help nonprofit and other socially-minded ventures address critical challenges and pursue greater good. Prior to Boost, Arshad spent 11+ years at Wellspring Consulting, including 6+ years as a Partner.

Drawing on almost 20 years in consulting, Arshad brings substantial experience in strategy, strategic planning, competitive analysis, survey design and analysis, organizational assessment, operational improvement, and implementation planning.  He has worked with clients in arts & culture, civil rights & advocacy, community improvement, education, environment, human services, international development, philanthropy, religion & spirituality, and youth development. Examples of specific projects include the following:

  • For a major university, developed a strategy for the university’s work-study program, which is core to their identity and brand
  • For a leading College Access and Success program, developed a comprehensive strategic plan and growth strategy
  • For a leading civil rights and support organization, developed a national strategic plan including their national advocacy work in Washington, D.C.
  • For a large multi-service community center serving the LGBT community in New York City, developed plans for how the organization would achieve its broader strategic objectives through programmatic and policy work
  • For a major Boston theatre company, developed a comprehensive strategic plan to improve attendance and customer retention

Prior to Boost and Wellspring, Arshad worked for over four years at The Boston Consulting Group in the Washington D.C. office, as well as in Dallas, where he managed a variety of projects focusing on strategy, customer service, and organizational effectiveness.  There he received training and experience in developing excellent, implementable plans that were highly received by senior-level, discriminating clients.  Arshad also worked for several years at Tetra Pak, Inc. a leading international corporation delivering high quality packaging for food distribution. There, Arshad directed internal consulting projects to enhance business processes, increase efficiency and service levels, and improve the company’s ability to meet customers’ needs.

Arshad has a strong and abiding dedication to social issues which is reflected in his passion for working in the social sector.  He has volunteered for many years with the His Highness Prince Aga Khan Council for the USA (“the Council”) and its affiliated institutions. Arshad recently served as a Member on the National Grants and Review Board, overseeing a talented group of professional volunteers carrying out quality review and improvement projects for the Council at the local and national level. Arshad was recently appointed Chairman of this board and now oversees all of the community’s budgeting and auditing activities in the U.S. Previously, Arshad served as the Honorary Secretary of the Council’s National Social Welfare Board for 3 years, overseeing human services programs involving 300 volunteers across the United States.  In the past, Arshad also served as the Council’s Director for Social Safety Net, a program offering a help-line in multiple languages to provide culturally appropriate crisis support. 

Arshad received his MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in 1997 where he received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence.  He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with dual Bachelors degrees in finance from The Wharton School and in computer science and engineering, completing the five-year curriculum and meeting full certification requirements in only four years. 

Additionally, in 2015 Arshad became licensed to offer consulting services for the Standards for Excellence® program by completing an exclusive professional development initiative that gives independent consultants the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to work with nonprofit organizations across the country interested in learning about and implementing the Standards for Excellence code.

Arshad lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife and three boys, and enjoys cooking - with an interest and consummate skill in preparing various ethnic dishes.

 


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Amanda Huminski, Consultant

Amanda is a Consultant and Boost Fellow at Boost and brings experience in higher education, program design and implementation, and research.

In addition to her work at Boost, Amanda recently completed a PhD in Philosophy from The Graduate Center at The City University of New York, a top-ranked Philosophy department. Amanda has previously spent many years designing curriculum and teaching undergraduate courses in Business Ethics, Logic, Communications Ethics, and Introduction to Philosophy at Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers College. Her academic work focused on feminist philosophy, philosophy of language, and experimental philosophy.

In her time at The Graduate Center, Amanda had been involved with a number of initiatives to attract and retain Philosophy students from underrepresented groups. She was co-coordinator of the New York Society for Women in Philosophy workshop series and has previously sat on the Philosophy department Diversity Recruitment Committee. She also co-founded and chaired The Graduate Center chapter of Minorities and Philosophy, which hosts speaker series, pedagogy workshops, and recruitment events, all aimed at making the undergraduate classroom more hospitable to students from a variety of backgrounds.

Prior to academia, Amanda served as an AmeriCorps Public Ally at the Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she designed and implemented a life skills program for teens transitioning out of pediatric health care.

Amanda holds an MA in Philosophy from Tufts University and graduated magna cum laude from the George Washington University with a BA in Women’s Studies and Economics. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her wife and enjoys cooking, weightlifting, and exploring all five boroughs. 

 


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Zia Hassan, Artist Collaborator

Zia is an independent collaborator partnering with Boost on select assignments.

Zia has been creating and performing in the DC area for nearly 20 years. He is most commonly known for his video, 9 Year Old Discusses the Meaning of Life, in which he interviews a wildly philosophical young boy in his backyard. The video was featured on NPR by Radiolab’s Robert Krulwich, the popular podcast To The Best of Our Knowledge, and by comedian Sarah Silverman on YouTube.

Among his achievements, Zia has performed extensively as a singer-songwriter in the DC area, opening for national touring artists at acclaimed venues such as The Hamilton, Jammin Java, and the Black Cat. His work includes: Collision (2010), a collaborative show and album which brought together 25 DC artists to perform at the Bethesda Theater; Lines (2012), showcasing the recorded sounds of the DC Metro encased in reverb drenched guitar; and The Flop, The Turn, The River (2010), incorporating impromptu family interviews with piano and processed noises. 

Zia has additionally published multiple collections of poetry and paintings, including: Closer to the Surface (2014), showcasing four-line poems with contrasting fingerpaintings and School Poems (2016), incorporating artwork with paintings about education reform and testing culture.  Zia is also a practicing magician. In 2011, he proposed to his girlfriend (now wife) by doing a card trick routine that ended with a floating ring. The video demonstration on YouTube went viral, with world-famous magician Jay Sankey praising it on Twitter.

Zia also spent 4 years as an elementary school teacher in Washington, DC teaching grades three to five at both public and public charter schools. He holds a Masters of the Arts in Teaching, and specializes in teaching students how to analyze and write about complex text. In 2014, he invented a creative lesson planning tool called the MI Deck which draws upon learning theory from Howard Gardner as well as the artistic instincts of Brian Eno. He is currently an education consultant, writing inquiry-based science curriculum and providing trainings on various educational technology for teachers in DC. 

Previously, Zia spent 6 years as a business consultant with IBM, working in a public sector client-facing environment. Zia specialized in SAP, with a focus on procurement. Zia was recognized by the client for coming up with creative solutions to problems using spreadsheet macros and video training on system procedures.