Abby Falik approaches life and leadership with a focus on people and purpose. Whether approaching her own journey with intentionality or by leading young people to do the same, Abby’s innate ability to connect and motivate others has translated into impact and success as a social entrepreneur and leader. 

Two decades ago, Abby discovered Breakthrough San Francisco and became a Teaching Fellow. She found in Breakthrough a place where she was able to create meaningful connections with younger students and peers – and where they, together, explored their unique interests, strengths, and their future possibilities as educators and leaders.  

As founder of Global Citizen Year, Abby is dedicated to building a new generation of changemakers that our world urgently needs. Earlier this year, she joined the Emerson Collective as an Entrepreneur in Residence to incubate new models to transform how young people learn, launch and lead. Using Global Citizen Year as a blueprint, she is on a mission to reinvent the “gap” year as an accessible, purposeful and transformative rite of passage.  Her belief that students need hands-on education outside of the classroom has led to more than 1,500 young people representing the world’s diversity find “their purpose, their people, and their power to change the world.”

Abby embodies Breakthrough’s people-first approach, which centers humanity in learning and teaching. With a strong emphasis on curiosity, leadership and self-exploration, Abby has high expectations for young people and a strong belief in their power and potential. “I believe we’ll get further faster by encouraging young people to become solution-accelerators, not just problem-solvers.” 

Abby has been profiled in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, PBS, and Chronicle of Higher Education for her expertise on social innovation, leadership, and the changing landscape of education. As a Breakthrough alumna and life-long education advocate, Abby is redefining the transition to adulthood and expanding new pathways of success for young people across the world.