Alum Michael Mader honored as 2021 AACSB Influential Leader

Sixth annual initiative recognizes 25 business school graduates for contributions to society

Michael MaderFebruary 16, 2021 - University of Wisconsin-River Falls alumnus Michael Mader is one of 25 business school graduates honored by AACSB International (AACSB), the world’s largest business education alliance, as the 2021 Class of Influential Leaders. The annual initiative recognizes notable alumni from AACSB-accredited business schools whose inspiring work serves as a model for the next generation of business leaders.

Mader is the owner of Minneapolis based Hippy Feet. Hippy Feet employs homeless youth, ages 16 to 24, in their packaging, screen printing and embroidery operations. Partnering with other nonprofits, Mader hosts employment sessions at its Minneapolis office. The partnerships support the young people they employ by connecting them with emergency financial services, bus passes and gas cards for transportation, interview clothing, work boots, and other related items/services that ensure there are as few barriers to income as possible.

“This alumni award represents the impact that our students have upon the most pressing issues of our day,” said Marina Onken, interim dean, College of Business and Economics (CBE). “AACSB is the premiere accreditation for colleges of business worldwide and Michael Mader's success shows the commitment we make to the quality of our programs and our faculty. The CBE embodies the pillars of AACSB accreditation, innovation, impact, and engagement, in everything we do, from the creation of high-quality curriculum, to the engagement of our faculty and students, to the innovation that our students learn and apply after graduation.”

“Our students leave UWRF with a passion to create change, become thought-leaders and make their communities better,” said UW-River Falls Interim Chancellor Connie Foster. “Michael’s recognition as one of only 25 business school graduates honored worldwide by AACSB is acknowledgment of his personal drive and commitment as well as the significance of the university’s mission in preparing students for the future.”

“We are inspired by the efforts of business school graduates like Michael,” said Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, AACSB president and CEO. “The College of Business and Economics and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls are developing leaders prepared to change the world and AACSB is honored to recognize Michael for his positive impact on society.”

Now in its sixth year, AACSB’s Influential Leaders honorees include nearly 250 business school graduates who have created lasting impact in business and society. All honorees have earned an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree from one of the more than 870 AACSB-accredited business schools worldwide. The unique stories of each honoree and how they are creating meaningful, lasting impact in the world, are available at

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