Nonprofit Portfolio Alumni Profile: Alissa Perine

Graduation Year: 2007

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Current Employer: Makers Lab

In the summer of 2005, I drove from Washington, DC to Austin, TX to attend the McCombs School of Business. I was excited but also very anxious because there were only a handful of students who had nonprofit sector experience. After the first few weeks, I let down my guard and embraced the MBA experience. I made lifelong friends, took classes with outstanding professors and began to explore the idea of being an entrepreneur.

It was, however, the walk I would take across campus to the LBJ School for my Certificate Program classes that I remember most fondly. A highlight was traveling to Quito, Ecuador as a Ford Fellow to develop a fundraising plan for Teatro Bolivar. Teatro Bolivar was severely damaged from a fire in 1999 and needed funds to restore the theatre to its original condition. Through my interactions with Bernardo Mantilla, the owner and manager, it became clear that restoring the theatre was his calling and he is still working tirelessly to raise necessary funds. 

After graduating, I worked at several nonprofits and whether it was a large trade association or a small literacy nonprofit, I was always applying concepts I learned in my Certificate Program Classes.  I eventually found my way to Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). NFTE’s mission is to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income com

munities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures. We studied NFTE in one of my Certificate classes and now I was working for the organization. It was phenomenal to see young people drafting business plans, taking risks and pursuing their passions.

Inspired by my work at NFTE and after having planned my own wedding, I decided to become a part time entrepreneur. In March 2010, I started lovebus events & design - a boutique event planning company that specializes in LGBT wedding and events planning. In 2011 after being laid off, I became a full time entrepreneur. Having the opportunity to support couples to vision their “big day” has been an invaluable gift. Since starting lovebus I’ve helped 20+ couples get married, planned baby showers and memorial services and worked on the International AIDS Conference. 

This summer I retired lovebus and launched my newest venture, Makers Lab. Makers Lab is an event design firm that builds and supports queer communities by creating spaces the celebrate life, art and culture. We plan everything from workout classes to workshops to film screenings (and the occasional dance party). I have always enjoyed planning events and bringing people together and now it’s time for me to do things on a larger scale. 

Makers Lab recently initiated a $25,000 crowdfunding campaign. Like Bernardo this is my calling and I am working to ensure that Makers Lab is a success. It’s important for me that my community have safe, accessible spaces that are outside of the club/bar scene. I’m committed to curating events designed by, for, and about queer communities in Washington, DC and beyond.