Zicklin alumnus joins 2023 class of ‘Influential Leaders’ at AACSB

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business honored Baruch College alumna Lisa Radcliffe by naming her as part of its “Influential Leader” class this year.

The organization, which calls itself the world’s largest business education alliance, recognizes graduates of schools that it accredits through the Influential Leaders initiative. AACSB President and CEO Caryn Beck-Dudley highlighted the successes of each inductee, including Radcliffe, in a press release.

“The 2023 Influential Leaders demonstrate that success in business can also mean success for society,” Beck-Dudley said. “Their efforts to prioritize purpose, people and planet should inspire all of us to reorient our ideas about impactful leadership.”

Radcliffe received her master’s degree in business administration from Baruch in 2017. She is the founder and CEO of PunkinFutz, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in making toys and accessories for children with disabilities.     

PunkinFutz partnered with Sesame Street in 2022 to launch a line of products featuring beloved characters from the franchise such as Elmo and Big Bird.

Radcliffe’s company started as an idea she had while pursuing her graduate studies at the Zicklin School of Business’ evening program. The inspiration behind her company came from seeing the disabilities of both her son and daughter.

“I found this huge market gap in the space my kids lived in,” Radcliffe said, according to a press release from Baruch.

In another interview with The Local Moms Network, Radcliffe discussed how her son played a vital role in creating the company.

“When my son, Buster, was fitted for orthotics (AFOs) 10 years ago, I could not understand why they had to be so scary looking,” Radcliffe said. “Buster was afraid of the orthotics, and other kids were afraid of him because of the orthotics.”

Radcliffe credited the Baruch community for helping her launch her company and reaching the success it has accumulated. She also said being surrounded by classmates who were much younger than her was a positive factor in her journey.

“I would not have founded my company if it weren’t for my experience at the Zicklin School,” Radcliffe said. “Zicklin was incredibly receptive to me as an older student. I loved my professors, who were so supportive, and I loved the work I did, which reenergized me and made me interested in what I do again. It literally changed my life.”

Radcliffe said the goal for her business is to create a more sustainable model. PunkinFutz designs its products with professional consultation from experts, including occupational therapists and people who live with disabilities.

PunkinFutz exclusively employs adults with disabilities.

Radcliffe’s business resume goes beyond her toy company. She has two decades worth of experience in the technology industry. 

She previously served as vice president of operations at the New York branch of CTG Inc., an information technology services company. Her work focused on large technology implementations in government spaces. She also served as the assistant commissioner for the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
In addition to launching her toy company, Radcliffe founded and launched Powered by Inclusion, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization. It supplies after-school programs for children in special education classrooms.

AACSB described Radcliffe as a person whose business model “leads by example.” 

“Radcliffe inspires the future business leaders she met at the Zicklin School both directly, through the relationships she developed, and indirectly, as a living example of a nontraditional business student and entrepreneur,” AACSB said.Radcliffe said that some of PunkinFutz’ customers “will be business leaders themselves one day.”