Courtney Spence is passionate creative entrepreneur and global storyteller. As the Founder & Executive Director of Students of the World (SOW), she has worked tirelessly to use of the power of media to tell stories of global progress.
Understanding the desire of global desires of Millennials, the potential of media technology and the need for engaging solution-oriented storytelling, at the age of 19 Courtney founded Students of the World at Duke University. Nearly 15 years later, SOW is national network of creative mediamakers that has partnered more than 400 college students with 50 causes and organizations working in 30 different countries. For the last 8 years, Courtney and SOW teams have produced short films for the Clinton Global Initiative as well as their members, including Water.org, UNICEF, P&G, LIVESTRONG, Doc2Dock, The Nature Conservancy and the Make It Right Foundation. SOW’s newest partnership is working with Participant Media and pivot TV to produce a variety of cause-driven media campaigns and projects.
Courtney is building a movement of next-generation storytellers, who are dedicated to becoming global citizens and creative advocates. Through her journey, Courtney has deepened her understanding of creative college students, the mediums of storytelling, and the work of innovative cause-based organizations. Her production experiences range from places across the globe, including Cuba, Uganda, Cambodia, Haiti, Kosovo, Israel & the West Bank.
After graduating from Duke, Courtney worked for Senator Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. and for Ron Kirk’s U.S. Senate campaign. Courtney then focused on turning the burgeoning Students of the World movement into a national 501(c)3 organization. In 2004, Courtney was recognized by the International Youth Foundation with a Youth Action Net Fellowship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the Executive Producer of a UN-endorsed feature-length documentary, The Children’s War that documents the Ugandan civil war. Her speaking experience is varied, ranging from a TEDx talk in Atlanta to speaking to hundreds of children in a rural school in Swaziland; Courtney has shared a stage with President Bill Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Dr. Paul Farmer. She was honored to have been recently featured as a PACT Changemaker and currently sits on the advisory board for an upcoming documentary, In the Shadow of the Tower.