Maia Sciupac Arteaga


For Carey student, path to social change runs through business school

Each day, Maia Sciupac Arteaga is driven by one burning desire: to stop the child sex trafficking epidemic in America.

It’s a task borne out of personal exposure – a childhood friend fell victim to the crime – and one that has taken the California native from coast to coast in search of new technology, innovation, and progress.

It’s also taken her into Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Flexible MBA program, a place she says is perfectly suited to her aspirations. To some, business school may seem like an unlikely landing spot for someone so bent on affecting social change. But not to Arteaga.

“Everything just clicked,” Arteaga said when she heard about Carey’s mission to “teach business with humanity in mind.”  

She added: “I was so drawn to that credo. I knew I was headed for an MBA, but I didn’t want to go to just any business school. I wanted to go to a school that teaches the value of people over profits. I want to be part of a generation of future business leaders that have that vision in mind.”

A part-time student at Carey’s Washington campus, Arteaga is a full-time program manager for Thorn, a Washington-based nonprofit founded by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher that develops innovative technologies to combat sexual exploitation of children.  She’s also a human trafficking consultant and advisor for the Department of Justice.

Inspired by Thorn’s CEO, Julie Cordua, who holds an MBA from Northwestern, Arteaga has witnessed firsthand how core business principles can be applied to the fight for human rights.

“Business allows you to be more innovative and move faster than a government agency or a nonprofit; business allows you to iterate quickly if need be,” she said. “That approach can make tackling social issues a bit easier.”

An example of this is Arteaga’s work with Spotlight, Thorn’s web-based tool that provides law enforcement with leads on potential human trafficking networks using machine learning algorithms powered by publicly-sourced data. Spotlight is a strong example of how business principles can be applied to the nonprofit world, Arteaga says.

The tool has more than 1200 law enforcement users nationwide and has helped reduce the time it takes to investigate child sex trafficking cases by 43%. Spotlight has also been used in over 860 cases, and identified over 300 victims and 56 traffickers.

“Even though we are a nonprofit, we operate like a startup and intend to stay scrappy in order to continue to innovate rapidly,” Arteaga said of Thorn.

At Carey, Arteaga has taken a specific interest in the information systems curriculum because of the synergies with her work at Thorn.

“I am really interested in leading an organization in this field and finding ways to rethink human trafficking using technology, innovation, and design. Essentially, I want to make sure that we can continue to build tools that use tech for the greater good. So the information systems track is a great fit,” she said.

Posted on August 1, 2016 In Flexible MBA, Student Story