Dr. Lisa Fournier's business journey began as an entrepreneur when she was a college undergraduate at Western Carolina University. After selling her first business in imprinted sportswear in the late 1990s, she pursued a path of working for several emerging-growth companies in the dot.com era and throughout the 2000s. Her role in these companies was to implement – meaning the idea was in place, but there was a blank canvas to get the vision off the ground. This entailed working closely with the founders to write a business plan, helping secure funding and key strategic partnerships, recruiting and training a team, designing and delivering a minimum viable product, and selling that product to initial customers. She has worked in a variety of industries, including healthcare informatics, imprinted sportswear, beverage, auto, and others.
In 2012, Dr. Fournier was awarded a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. For her final project, she published a book on benefit corporations – The Barnabas Effect: Starting a Benefit Corporation to Renew Your Community – a type of hybrid entity between for-profits and non-profits. Dr. Fournier then went on to start and operate a benefit corporation in downtown Norfolk and online for 4 years to better understand what it would take to set-up and lead one. At Norfolk Fair Trade Company, she designed a "learning lab" for the Norfolk community to help individuals develop their competencies to become an entrepreneur and start a business. The business model was focused on beneficiaries who were going through a life transition. This included retired military, underemployed, second act, and youth in distressed communities. On divesting the assets to the local Norfolk community, Virginia Tech offered Dr. Fournier a position to design and deliver their initial social entrepreneurship class. Through this experience, she found she loves to teach and see her learners succeed, while being able to share her passion about entrepreneurship.
Dr. Fournier joined Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2017 and leads the new MBA in Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Management programs in Asheville.