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curating

changemaker

communities

training
emerging
leaders
fostering
innovation
ecosystems
I help visionary leaders turn their vision into reality.

I’ve never had a traditional career path and my work covers a wide range of interests – from social entrepreneurship to creative economic development to fostering innovation. I run my own ventures as well as consult with clients, including foundations, universities, communities, and companies.

The consistent thread that connects all of my projects is this: building communities of changemakers and nurturing emerging leaders who will go on to tackle the biggest challenges of our time. Community is at the heart of all I do. 

My work falls in three categories
  • Innovation ecosystem development
  • Retreat, workshop, fellowship design
  • Web, video, graphic, experiential design
  • Change management design
  • Strategic organizational planning

My ventures are designed to strengthen local innovation ecosystems, retain young entrepreneurial talent, and demonstrate the creative potential of small towns. Since 2010, I’ve been focused on creating organizations in State College, PA.

These projects range from the ridiculous to the academic. They are designed to keep me on my toes, forge collaborations and inspire new learning. Some of the initiatives are one-off, whereas others I maintain and update daily.

Through his work with the Sullivan Foundation, Spud helped us to invigorate and expand our social entrepreneurship program. He revolutionized our student retreat programs by working tirelessly to reach students, coordinate facilitators, and make our events a success. Our student programming would not be at its current level without the guidance of Spud!

Steve McDavidPresident, Sullivan Foundation

Spud is one of the few people whom I’ve met and worked with who approaches complex challenges both simply and joyfully. While being one of the most driven and capable people I know, he is also incredibly laid back and accessible which is a virtue to both his colleagues and clients. If you have the opportunity, hire Spud. You will not regret it.

Matthew AbramsFounder, Mycelium

Spud is one of the most creative, hardworking, and inspiring people I know. Working with me to enhance the overall design of our program, he brought so much more than his professional skill of building entrepreneurial communities; he brought thoughtful and strategic perspective, accessibility, and a keen sense of connection. His invaluable partnership with this program has nurtured a community of changemakers in Mississippi, resulting in the retention of young entrepreneurial talent.

Harrison WoodCoordinator, Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program

Spud has that rare ability to bring together high-performing people working at their very best. He is the grand conductor, identifying the right talent and composition of people and channelling them for the right results. As a result, he brings out the best in teams – no in-fighting, no jockeying for power; just true collaboration and productivity. 

Rose CameronFormer Director of Innovation, Penn State
When the word vision comes to my mind, the person that I think of is Spud Marshall. Spud has an amazing ability to see a problem, view it as an opportunity, and then create a vision that has the potential to create transformation.
Todd ErdleyCEO, Videon

Everything Midas touched turned to gold. Spud is different. Everything Spud touches gets better, more memorable, more usable, and more impactful.

Chad LittlefieldFounder, We!

Trailhead

In 2018, I launched Trailhead: a membership-driven organization that connects and funds ideas to make Centre County an awesome place to call home. The organization provides $1000 monthly grants to anyone who has a creative idea to better the place they call home. Our belief is that everyone should have a voice in shaping the future of their town and often the only barriers to preventing that from happening is connection and a little bit of cash.

the co.space

In 2013, I launched the co.space, a 20-person intentional community for young changemakers in State College, PA. We purchased a run-down fraternity home and renovated it into a creative hub for social entrepreneurs and creatives.

The home is made up of driven students, experienced young professionals and self-directed learners. Two house managers oversee the operations in the home. Throughout the year, we host 3 retreats for tenants and weekly dinners and activities with community mentors.

My role with the company is to ensure a dynamic culture and explore opportunities for future expansion.

Renovation Process

co.space Retreats

Community Impact

House Fly-through

Impact on State College

Features a spotlight on the co.space and other innovation nodes that New Leaf played a role in paving the way for

Cardboard Prototyping

New Leaf Initiative

In 2010, I launched New Leaf Initiative – a community innovation hub for State College, PA. We created an open space that was available for anyone to drop in and share their ideas for how they might make the town a better place. In time, the non-profit began to serve as a central destination for folks interested in pioneering the future of our community.

In 2012, New Leaf narrowed their focus on co-working and moved their operations to a 2,500 sq ft space in the borough building. Around the same time I stepped down from the leadership team and transferred the reigns to a new board. Today, the organization continues to serve the region and serve a critical role in building community for freelancers and creatives.

Sullivan Foundation

As the Director of Student Engagement, I’ve been leading programming, retreats, and curriculum design for the Sullivan Foundation since 2011. Serving a network of more than 70 universities across the American Southeast, we focus on developing students interested in service, social entrepreneurship and changemaking.

I oversee strategy, partnership development, monitoring and evaluation, program design, marketing and website design. But primarily, my efforts focus on strengthening a community of emerging leaders who are seeking out changemaking solutions to help transform their communities and campus

Sullivan Field Trips

Campus Catalyst

Social Justice Conference

Ignite Retreat 2017

Ignite Retreat – 2015

Ignite Retreat

Through my efforts with the Sullivan Foundation, I host and coordinate the Ignite Retreat twice per year for 100+ students who want to launch social ventures, engage in service opportunities, and pursue a changemaking career.

The retreat is broken into three tracks:

  1. Personal: For those uncovering their calling, who want to better understand their skills and passions, build self-confidence, and explore the mindset of a social entrepreneur.
  2. Problems: Designed for those who have a set of problems that they want to work on but are unsure how to get involved. This track gives you concrete and practical skills.
  3. Project: This track is for those who would like to dive deeply into one concrete solution, campus initiative, project, or venture they are actively trying to bring to life.

Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program

I’ve been working with the Mississippi office of Teach for America and Delta State University to design and run their Graduate Fellows Program. The program is designed to train TFA alumni how to launch and run social ventures in the communities they served. The fellows receive a full-ride scholarship to obtain a masters degree of their choosing, in addition to tailored coaching and financial support to launch their project.

Throughout the year, I provide executive coaching to the fellowship coordinator and assist with various aspects – from coordinating mentors to running the Immersion Retreat to capturing key metrics throughout the year.

Immersion Retreat

Ballot & Brunch

Southern Tioga School District

Since 2017, I’ve been working alongside Southern Tioga School District to help them re-envision how they may prepare their students for a future that embraces innovation and creativity. We’ve ran a series of design thinking workshops, in-service days, and strategy sessions with stakeholders across the district.

In 2018, many of these efforts culminated in a large-scale renovation of two of their high school libraries. Envision the reality TV series: ‘Extreme Home Makeover’, but for a school. Over the course of one week, we held multiple design sessions to determine what the students would most like their library to transform into, and then with the help of a construction and video team, we transformed the spaces in one week.

Potluck Brainstorm

In 2018, my wife and I decided to start hosting a monthly Potluck Brainstorm. Our intention was to create a simple vehicle for people to convene and chat about ideas that would make our region a more vibrant and innovative place.

We’ve found that potlucks are an incredibly simple excuse with few barriers to entry. As a result, 100’s of community members have passed through the house and had the chance to meet with people they typically wouldn’t bump shoulders with and talk about meaningful ideas.

List of Awesome

For the entirely of 2017, every weekday, I posted one new opportunity – alternative education, conference, fellowship, tool, etc – for young changemakers to take advantage of. After years of trying to seek out these opportunities for myself, I felt it was only right to share this list I had generated for myself for others.

In 2018, through my work with the Sullivan Foundation, we are transferring the site under their management to continue posting opportunities.

Get in the Ball Bubble Ball Soccer

A few years ago, I bet a friend that I could make a profit if I started my own bubble ball soccer company. 48 hours later, I had the order placed and the balls were being shipped over from China. The company served as a hobby for me and a great excuse to get away from my computer when I most needed it.

Today, I primarily bring them out for friends and picnics with no interest in launching yet another company.

Educate 20/20

In 2012, I organized a month-long roadtrip across the United States to uncover and document education innovations. With an RV and film crew, we interviewed thought leaders, teachers, social entrepreneurs, and community members.

One of the important aspects to the trip was to showcase that innovative practices are happening all across the country, not only on the coasts where most people concentrate their focus.

Changemaker in Residence

Working alongside my business partner, we developed a thorough plan for recruiting culture-creating young professionals to our hometown, State College, PA. Developing the plan involved building out monitoring and evaluation plans, year-long programming, websites, and promotional videos.

Although the project was ultimately not fully-funded, we were able to generate interest from more than 100 people from over 30 countries who were interested in moving to State College for the program.

Our Community is Waiting…

Journey of a Changemaker

This is an overarching framework illustrating the stepping stones an individual takes on their path to become a changemaker. The site will inform people of the possible things they will encounter and give them examples.

For the past few years, I’ve been practically testing this framework out through the co.space to test assumptions. I have found it to be incredibly helpful in providing relevant tools and guidance based on their stage of the journey.

TEDxPSU Speaker + Emcee

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to both speak and emcee TEDxPSU, an incredible event organized entirely by Penn State students. As an emcee, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to thread connections and meaning between the speakers brought together – and shake things up on stage by dressing in everything from a scuba suit to a bathrobe.

Bathrobe Conversations

Spoken Word Poetry

Live Paintings

Creative Harvests

As a facilitator, I am always exploring creative ways to ‘harvest’ the learning that comes out of a facilitated gathering. Two specific outlets are with spoken word poetry and graphic facilitation / live paintings.

I find these tools to be a powerful way to synthesize the conversations and wisdom that emerges on retreats and workshops.

Curb to Curb, City to City

In 2010, I set off on a cross-Europe train trip to interview folks across the continent on their perspective and understanding of sustainability. I had just completed my master’s degree on the subject, and I was curious to simply hit the streets and get the general publics opinion to see how it aligned with my studies.

Hype Video

PURE Talent Agency

In 2010, I designed a talent management agency that would leverage the influence of the modeling, music and acting worlds to create positive change in the world.

This company failed (pretty spectacularly) and taught some wonderful lessons. If you are ever in the mood for a story that should be turned into a blockbuster movie, reach out and I’ll be happy to regale you over a fire or hike 🙂

  • "Transforming Towns into Changemaker Communities" | Keynote for American Planning Association | 2017
  • TEDxPSU Emcee | 2016 & 2017
  • "Cultivating Changemaker Communities" | Dalhouise University | 2016
  • "Instigating Regional Change" | Campbell University | 2016 & 2018
  • "Bathrobe Conversations" | TEDxPSU | 2014
  • "Sustainability Solutions for Smaller Markets" | Net Impact Conference | 2010
  • "Behavior Change Strategy" | MIT Sustainability Summit | 2010
  • PA STEM Ecosystem Development | Strategy & Facilitator | 2018
  • Penn State Ignite Retreat | Organizer & Lead Facilitator | 2018
  • Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreat | Organizer & Lead Facilitator | 2/year; 2012 - 2018
  • co.space Retreat | Organizer & Facilitator | 3/year; 2013 - 2018
  • TFA Graduate Fellows Retreat | Lead Facilitator | 2016 - 2018
  • Watson Institute Basecamp | Guest Facilitator & Advisor | 2017
  • Dalhouise University’s Sustainability Leadership Certificate | Facilitator | 2016
  • New Leaf SEED School | Workshop Facilitator | 2013 & 2014
  • Bonner Conference | Workshop Facilitator | 2012
  • Penn State Guest Instructor | Numerous times since 2010
Looking to build dynamic communities that spark change?

From sharing insights into how we launched the co.space to collaborating together on an initiative you need help getting off the ground, I’m more than happy to chat.