I spent a few years at the Clinton Foundation, working on their early childhood program, Too Small to Fail. I worked with really smart people who were content experts and understood the ecosystem. But there seemed to be a lot of challenges in terms of scaling the work and figuring out how to create strategic partnerships. It got me thinking about what was missing and about whether graduate school could help.
My colleagues said the MBA skill set is really valuable in the nonprofit sector. I had never considered going to business school, but from the very beginning, Yale SOM was a good fit. The school’s mission of educating leaders for business and society really resonated with me. I plan to stay in the social sector, and I’m very interested in relationships between the public/private and nonprofit/corporate spaces.
I wanted a business school with a core curriculum. At Yale SOM, your entire class goes through the core together, and it’s team-based, so you really get to know each other, and to learn from each other. All the courses are important and relevant, no matter what you’re planning to go into.
One course that I loved was Employee with Jim Baron. It poses questions like, “What kind of culture do you want to create in your organization?” “How can you make sure your policies are aligned to the strategic outcomes you want?” We also discussed tough issues around diversity and inclusion and gender discrimination in the workplace.
Before the core curriculum, I saw issues through a pretty narrow lens. I missed the connections between one group of stakeholders and another. Now I’ve developed a much more nuanced understanding of how systems and groups of people work together. I’ve lost a little bit of my naivete, and I better understand how you can actually make change happen and be effective.
I’m involved with the Nonprofit Board Fellows, which is a group of students who serve on the boards of organizations in New Haven. I also am involved with Social Impact Consulting Club. Both are a great way to learn about the New Haven area and to get involved. It helps foster a real connection to the community.
Last year, I did a consulting project with Columbus House, a homelessness service organization that works with a lot of smaller organizations in the area. I studied methods for how they can implement a shared service model for their back office, finance, HR, and grant management departments so that they can have more time and resources to do the work that really matters to them: providing services. It was really interesting, and I think it will be quite relevant in my new job, too. I’m serving on the YMCA of Central Connecticut board now. It’s a large, sophisticated organization. I served on a very small, startup board before school, so it’s nice to be able to see what a model of excellence looks like. All these organizations—if you want to get involved—are very eager to have SOM students.
I’m very drawn to the education space and to programs that focus on young children. I interned at Sesame Workshop on the strategy and ventures team. The Sesame organization is large and includes a lot of initiatives. My main project was working with their domestic social impact group on scaling and sustainability plans. I did a lot of analysis of domestic funding markets, trends, key players, and how Sesame can position itself to grow.
After SOM, I’ll be going to work for the Bridgespan Group, a strategy consulting firm for nonprofits, foundations, and philanthropists. I’m going to be able to take all that I’ve learned—in courses and at Sesame—and really explore which organizations and areas I really want to work on long-term.
Interviewed on December 16, 2020