Academy for Social Purpose in Responsible Entertainment


Peter Samuelson, MA, President


Dr. D. Andy Rice, PhD, ASPIRE Fellow at UCLA


The Academy for Social Purpose in Responsible Entertainment (ASPIRE) partners with universities, community organizations, scholars, and activists to advocate for sustainability and social justice through media-focused teaching and research.  ASPIRE teaches digital media production to undergraduates of all majors to enhance their lifelong capacities to undertake social issue advocacy.

Sheryl Leach

As a producer, creator and entrepreneur, Sheryl Leach is a leader in the field of family and children's entertainment. Sheryl turned a desire to find quality educational entertainment for her young son into one of the most successful children's properties of all time. As the Founder/Creator of Barney, she developed and launched the property in the US and in over 100 countries worldwide. She built Barney into one of the highest-rated children's series on television, one of the best-selling children's video brands in the history of the industry, and into a record-breaking international licensing and publishing phenomenon. In addition, Sheryl collaborated on a world-class theme park attraction with Universal Studios and produced an internationally successful theatrical release with Polygram Filmed Entertainment.

Sheryl has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements. She was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the CNBC cable network, has been honored with a National Freedoms Foundation Award, and has received a national humanitarian award from B'nai B'rith International -- the first woman to receive this prestigious award since Eleanor Roosevelt.

She has served on several boards including the CPTV Board of Trustees, the US Trust Advisory Council for CT, the TrickleUp Program Board of Trustees, the Board of Trustees for Link TV, and the Board for The Alliance for a New Humanity.

Sheryl’s speaking credits include the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., The Detroit Economic Club, and the national conference of American Women in Economic Development. She has been a featured guest on many talk shows including "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "CBS This Morning," and "Donahue."

Sheryl co-founded the Shei’rah Foundation which supports media projects that celebrate the human spirit. Through the Shei'rah Foundation, co-founder Howard Rosenfeld and Sheryl have sponsored projects with Link TV, Connecticut Public Television, NEXTNEXT Entertainment, the Global White Lion Protection Trust, The Alliance For a New Humanity, Foundation for Conscious Evolution, and Frame of Mind Films. In addition, the Foundation has supported a variety of youth-based media projects: Chat the Planet, Taking It Global, and Global Youth Action Network (GYAN).

Additionally, Sheryl and Howard are involved with land conservation projects in their home town of Warren, CT. This effort includes two organic farms, as well as country-store retailing with its focus being on ‘everything local’. Sheryl owns a farm in South Africa that supports the work of the Global White Lion Protection Trust.

Sheryl holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education, with a specialty in Spanish, from Southern Methodist University. She holds a master's degree in bilingual education, as well as an honorary doctorate from Texas A & M University.