Sam Pressler ’15, founder of the Armed Services Arts Partnership, was named among the top 30 social entrepreneurs under the age of 30 by Forbes today.
The magazine’s annual “30 under 30” report includes 20 lists, organized by industry, of people “who are challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation of entrepreneurs, entertainers, educators and more,” according to the website.
The Armed Services Arts Partnership, or ASAP, offers a variety of free courses in writing, music, comedy and improv to veterans, active-duty service members and their families. According to the Forbes website, more than 500 students have taken classes with ASAP since 2015, resulting in over 250 performances including a comedy show at the White House.
“It is a remarkable honor to be recognized among so many extraordinary leaders," said Pressler. "This award would not have been possible without the support from our many staff, instructors, volunteers, board, advisors and mentors. It reflects the commitment that our veterans, service members and military families have made to our ASAP community."
Pressler, who studied government and finance at W&M, began working toward creating the program while a student at the university, founding the William & Mary Center for Veterans Engagement, Student Veterans of William & Mary and William & Mary Military & Veterans Working Group.
"The William & Mary community's involvement has been instrumental to ASAP's growth," said Pressler. "The support of President Reveley, the Puller Clinic and the government department helped turn an idea into an operational program when I was a 20-year-old undergrad. Since our launch, W&M student volunteers have been critical to our efforts in Hampton Roads. And, as a graduate, I have been fortunate to receive mentorship and advice from many W&M alumni."
In 2016, Pressler became a Halcyon Fellow, and the year before, he received a highly competitive Echoing Green Fellowship for his work with ASAP, an honor he achieved with support from fellow W&M alumnus George Srour ’05. As the founder of Building Tomorrow, a nonprofit that helps construct and maintain schools in East Africa, Srour received an Echoing Green fellowship in 2007.
Pressler is the second W&M alumnus in two consecutive years to be included in Forbes’ “30 under 30” report. In January 2016, Darren Dixon ’08, youngest managing director in the U.S. for Goldman Sachs, was named to the finance list.