Our Story

Our joint journey of changemaking

We have a history of bringing out the exceptional in clients

Our Founders

Jennifer Li Shen and Way-Ting Chen

Friends at Swarthmore College, co-founders Jennifer Li Shen and Way-Ting Chen shared a dream of applying their training in business management to spur social change. Individually, they gained experience working for top-tier business management consulting firms, Boston Consulting Group and Booz & Company, respectively. In 2002, they joined forces to start Blue Garnet, an expression of their original dream.

A nod to their shared alma mater, Jenni and Way-Ting named the firm after the rarest of garnet stones—the blue garnet—a symbol of honesty, loyalty and true friendship.

Read more about the early days of Blue Garnet and reflections on the past 20 years in our Founding Story, or in this Swarthmore College profile, “Hearts of Garnet.

Jennifer Li Shen and Way-Ting Chen, Co-Founders of Blue Garnet, in elegant black sleeveless dresses. They are looking at each other and smiling, surrounded by trees and greenery


Since our founding, we’ve seen that change is created in community with others. In 20 years, we have impacted…

  • 1,101 leaders (and counting!)
  • 94% of clients have clarity on their organization’s outcomes from working with BG (over the past 5 years)
  • and 83% of clients say we helped them positively impact Southern California

…via our work, affecting:

  • 100 organizations through direct, customized consulting engagements
  • Another 186 organizations through capacity building initiatives and trainings

Through long term relationships with individual clients, we can witness the ripple effect of our work with our partners— on making California a more inclusive place for people with disabilities, reducing educational inequity for first-generation college students, increasing access to community-centered mental health, increasing Southern California’s biodiversity, and more. You can read more about our impact and about how working at Blue Garnet has helped alumni accelerate impact around the world.

A timeline of a company's history from 2002 to 2023

we’ve come a long way together

As we celebrated twenty years in 2023, we took time to reflect on our shared journey with YOU – our clients, partners, and friends. The above timeline was created at our “Together for Twenty” gathering, where guests charted major milestones, challenges and accomplishments we experienced together.

Some highlights from 20 years:

  • 2002: Way-Ting and Jenni found Blue Garnet (blog,) first client is Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)
  • 2004: Hire our first employee! + Helped found Los Angeles Social Venture Partners (now SJPLA)
  • 2008: Adopt positive psychology into a strengths-based approach to our work
  • 2010: Make it through the Great Recession by asking hard questions, supporting tough choices and learning a lot for clients + ourselves
  • 2011: Create signature Impact Formula(TM) framework + Launch Social Impact Geek blog
  • 2012: Celebrate 10 years with a Strategy Lab, where we explored the workings of High Performing Organizations
  • 2013: Become Bcorp certified, reaching “Best For The World” level for the next 6 years
  • 2018: Celebrate 15 years! + Shannon becomes first new Partner
  • 2020: 2020: Pivot the way we work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expand on how we meaningfully care for our wellbeing at work
  • 2023: Celebrate 20 years with our community, where we explored the Dynamic Tensions that we/changemakers balance


Thank you to those who have walked alongside us during the past twenty years. And if you’re interested in journeying together in the next twenty years, please drop us a line at hello@bluegarnet.net. We’re looking forward to connecting and making impact together!

three women cheersing

Partners Way-Ting, Jenni, and Shannon raising a toast to twenty years of impact!