Mario Avila

Mario Avila

Director, Turner Family Center for Social Ventures
Adjunct Professor of Management

Research Interests/Areas of Expertise

Social Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, and Financial Technology

Subject Areas

Entrepreneurship, Ethics & Social Responsibility



Mario serves as the founding Director of the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures (TFC) at Vanderbilt University, a center that serves as a resource and thought leader for people across the university interested in combining revenue-generating businesses with social impact objectives. The TFC is focused on serving as a hub for graduate student resources, fellowship, collaboration, and partnership—across multiple graduate schools—further promoting responsible business practices and shaping future leaders of our domestic and international communities.

Awards & Accomplishments

Mario was a member of Leadership Tennessee’s Class III and honored as a 50 Under 40 Social Enterprise Leader by American Express. He was also selected to represent Nashville as one of Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders which brings together some of the country’s top leaders who are working across sectors to help their communities prosper. Mario was selected as a member of the Vanderbilt Leadership Academy – recognized as a high-performing leader at the institution. Most recently, he was honored as one of Nashville’s 40 Under 40 business leaders in 2020.


Social Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, and Financial Technology


Mario was the CEO of Emerge and founder of Contigo Financial, a socially responsible consumer lender headquartered in Nashville. His management experience includes finance, education, and consulting in three different countries. He was a Fellow of Vanderbilt’s Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions and helped develop a hybrid housing-microfinance model to finance mortgage needs of people at the base of the pyramid in Central America.

Mario serves on various boards, including Conéxion Americas, the Nashville Food Project, and serves as Chairman of Vanderbilt University’s Credit Union.


Mario currently teaches Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship and leads various International Immersion programs. He also teaches Project Pyramid — a semester-long, interdisciplinary course at Vanderbilt that introduces students to the social problems of global poverty and the organizations applying business principles for its alleviation. The second portion of the course consists of hands-on introduction to management consulting where students are coached through a real international consulting assignment.


MBA, Vanderbilt University, 2012

B.A., Dartmouth College, 2004