What was your first job in social impact?
My first job in social impact was a role on the newly formed Corporate Social Responsibility team at AOL in 2011. Prior to the formation of this team, I was a Senior Account Manager on the Sales team at AOL for 3.5 yrs, but I always had a deep passion for and interest in social impact- specifically around how a company could and should leverage its resources to support the local communities that they operate in. Much longer story short, while I was on the AOL Sales team, a colleague of mine received the green light from our new CEO and CMO to launch this new CSR team- and like the shark that I can be, I wasted no time and immediately put together a case for the CMO detailing how and why I would be an asset to this new team. As I had a strong track record with the company from my experience on the Sales team, and as I had mapped out how my skill set would translate well for this new role, I received approval to join this new team and I have never looked back. And when I give advice to young people who would like to pursue a career in social impact, the first thing I say is to explore the opportunities within the company where you currently are- does your company have a social impact team? If not, build a case around why your company should create this team (and why you should lead it!). And if your company already has a social impact team, start out by expressing your interest to learn more from the team / volunteer with the team / find creative ways to leverage your current skill set to support the team’s goals, etc. Build a meaningful relationship with the team and express your interest early so that when they do have an opening, you will be top of mind.
What is the role or project you have been a part of that you are most proud of?
As a Director on AOL’s Corporate Social Responsibility team, I was responsible for leading AOL’s social impact strategic partnerships and international programs- in this role I collaborated across many brands and departments to leverage AOL’s resources and talent to bring the most robust social impact programs to life.
A highlight in this role was my experience leading the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp which took place in Rwanda, Africa in late 2015. The AOL Charitable Foundation co-founded WiSci alongside the U.S. Department of State, the UN Foundation, Intel and Microsoft. Through this first-of-its-kind program, 120 high school girls from across Africa and the U.S. traveled to Rwanda to participate in this three-week camp combining intensive instruction in coding and robotics with digital marketing as well as providing participants with a rich cross-cultural experience. As part of the AOL Charitable Foundation’s mission to increase access and opportunity for girls around the world, AOL was thrilled to have been a founding partner of this initiative, and I was honored to lead on AOL’s behalf- strategizing, planning, and executing on-the-ground in Africa.
I’m proud of this project for so many reasons. First and foremost, I’m incredibly proud of the impact that this project has had on the lives of the students who participated. On a personal level, it was also a time in my career where I ventured outside of my comfort zone as I had never led a program in Africa before, let alone spent any time in Africa – but it’s definitely true what they say – when you step outside of your comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens. I stretched my talents and leadership in new and exciting ways and to this day, this experience taught me to trust myself more and to not shy away from something just b/c it hasn’t been done before.