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Emily Núñez Cavness

Emily Núñez Cavness

MEET EMILY

“I grew up with a sense of duty, of wanting to devote myself to public service,” she says. She was also inspired by one her uncles, an astronaut. She recalls visiting Cape Canaveral at age 5 to watch him blast off on a space mission and being instilled by a profound sense of possibility. “It taught me that you really can do anything you set your mind to.”

I grew up with a sense of duty, of wanting to devote myself to public service.

Seeing Gayle King on stage at the Forbes Women’s Summit in 2015, Emily Núñez Cavness (MBA '20) knew she had to act fast. She was lucky to be an invited guest at this networking bonanza, and she had no intention of wasting the opportunity. She dumped the contents of her bag, bolted up front, and tucked into a dark corner. When the CBS Morning Show host (and editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine) walked off stage, Cavness pounced.

Cavness pushed the bag into King’s hands and launched into the elevator pitch about her company, Sword & Plough, which was two years old at the time. How it makes everything from rucksacks to totes out of recycled military fabric. How it reduces environmental waste, supports veterans, and promotes American manufacturing.

The following year, the stunt paid off. Cavness, along with her sister and cofounder Betsy, got coverage in O, The Oprah Magazine, and Sword & Plough saw a boost in sales. While Cavness was never contacted by King, she’s convinced that the article was no coincidence.

Cavness, who just completed her first year in the MBA program at Stanford GSB, attributes her will to use business for social good to her Army brat upbringing. Her father served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, retired as a colonel, and then became a U.S. Department of State advisor in Iraq.

“I grew up with a sense of duty, of wanting to devote myself to public service,” she says. She was also inspired by one her uncles, an astronaut. She recalls visiting Cape Canaveral at age 5 to watch him blast off on a space mission and being instilled by a profound sense of possibility. “It taught me that you really can do anything you set your mind to.”


By Diana Kapp, full story appears in MBA Student Voices