Pictured: ACHS President and Founder Dorene Petersen harvesting Vetiver.
Not many businesses have the power to say that with a vision, a typewriter, and organic essential oil test kits, we have globally impacted the way holistic healthcare students “live well, learn well, [and] educate others for a reason.” As we round-up B-Corp Month, American College of Healthcare Sciences is proud to be a part of a global community that’s using our business as a “force for good.”
According to the National Council of Nonprofits (2020), “‘Collective impact’ describes an intentional way of working together and sharing information for the purpose of solving a complex problem. Proponents of collective impact believe that the approach is more likely to solve complex problems than if a single nonprofit were to approach the same problem(s) on its own.”
In an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2011, the authors professed that “The complex nature of most social problems belies the idea that any single program or organization, however well managed and funded, can single-handedly create lasting, large-scale change.”
Gandhi is associated with the phrase, “be the change you wish to see,” one I use to close every Yoga class I teach. Mahatma Gandhi’s actual words go much deeper toward the power of action:
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do” 
As individuals, we have the power to change the world around us. As an educational institution, we have the power to change the world.
A Vision for Global Holistic Education
ACHS President and Founder, Dorene Petersen, literally began to create an ongoing global change in 1997 when the South Pacific College of Natural Therapeutics’ (SPCNT) distance learning program in Auckland, New Zealand proposed shutting down the program. Petersen had the foresight to introduce a teach-out program, and, with the blessing of SPCNT, she founded ACHS. Petersen recalls, “[I was] armed with a secondhand IBM typewriter, a fold up table, and two cardboard boxes for student files, organic botanicals and essential oils for lab kits, I was initially a one-woman office.” Forty years later, ACHS has 28 online programs in holistic health, with a staff of over 60.
Even before the term “collective impact” was coined, Petersen recognized the collective impact of her initiative:
Once students were empowered to take control of their health naturally without uprooting their family to get to school, the college continued to grow. My passion is truly helping people learn how to heal themselves and to witness the profound freedom and often career success that brings. Our slogan is to live well, learn well, educate others for a reason. When we care for each other and share our collective knowledge—building on traditions!—we can accomplish anything and the last 40 years as ACHS’s President has shown this to be true. 
Affecting Change on a Global Scale
At ACHS, our audience and customers are our teachers, students, alumni, and consumers of apothecary products and holistic healthcare. The collective impact of ACHS is not just limited to providing an opportunity for holistic education where there may not be a “brick and mortar” program. We are developing holistic health professionals in towns that may be isolated from Complementary and Alternative Medical practices, creating opportunities for students to take classes on a full-time basis from their homes, and spreading the practice of holistic healthcare to communities around the globe.
I never imagined I would be living and teaching Yoga in Chicago and using organic essential oils made by a college in Portland, Oregon, where I teach online English courses. This is just one example of the collective impact ACHS has had on my life and how I share the fruits of the brilliant foresight my boss had over 40 years ago.
Be the change you wish to see.
Lisa Warman, MLS, BS, RYT 200
Assistant Professor of English
American College of Healthcare Sciences
Want to Get Involved? ACHS is Committed to Giving
ACHS is committed to contributing to the public good. We focus on charities that support basic human dignity at home and abroad by preventing and addressing hunger, homelessness, and access to education and educational opportunities. We support charities through participation in donation campaigns, special events, in-kind donations, and volunteerism including:
- Exceed, Inc. – Vocational Support for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (exceedpdx.com)
- Oregon Food Bank – Supports food security (oregonfoodbank.org)
- Janus Youth Program – Serving homeless youth and teen parents (http://www.janusyouth.org/programs)
- Neighborhood House – Food and Energy grants to families and Seniors (nhpdx.org)
- Community Transition School – Pre-K to 8th grade serving homeless kids (transitionalschool.org)
- Winrock International – Global agricultural and environmental development (winrock.org)
- Outside-In – Services to Homeless Youth (outsidein.org)
- Family Forward Oregon – Advocacy for Working Families (http://www.familyforwardoregon.org/)
ACHS President Dorene Petersen integrates ACHS values into all programs, including study abroad service projects during ACHS’s study abroad programs. This dedication recently earned her the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her volunteer work in Nepal with USAID and Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer program. Each study abroad experience includes opportunities for students to get involved!
 Gandhi, M. (1960). The collected works of Mahatma Gandhi (Vol. 13). Page 153. New Delhi, India: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
 Oregon Business Magazine. (2019, February 26). Dorene Petersen, Founder and President American College of Healthcare Sciences Nominee 2019 Phenomenal Women’s Award. Retrieved from https://www.oregonbusiness.com/article/cannabis/item/18680-dorene-petersen-founder-and-president-american-college-of-healthcare-sciences-nominee-2019-phenomenal-women-s-award
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a professor for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
About American College of Healthcare Sciences
Founded in 1978, ACHS.edu is a Portland, Ore.-based, accredited college offering online, on-campus, and study abroad integrative health education. With undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and continuing education units in integrative health, ACHS makes holistic health and wellness education accessible to a diverse community, including healthcare professionals, military students, stay-at-home parents, and lifelong learners. Specializations include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and integrative health. ACHS is a Certified B Corporation® and was named two of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon 2017 by Oregon Business magazine. ACHS is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In response to our commitment to service members, veterans and military spouses, ACHS has been designated as one of the top 16% of military-friendly institutions in the U.S. for nine years in a row. For more information visit achs.edu.