In the premiere episode of Cause & Purpose Season 2, Mike Spear and Shalini Vajjhala discuss inefficiencies in the philanthropy space and how to make the most of your philanthropic dollars. From building footbridges to proactive disaster mitigation, we explore how to think about funding and collaboration to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities around the world.
Carla Fernandez is a social entrepreneur and cofounder of The Dinner Party, an innovative nonprofit organization on a mission to transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation, and forward movement using the age old practice of breaking bread. Carla joins Cause & Purpose to share her founding story and lessons learned from a life spent pursuing positive social impact. Traditional bereavement support groups can feel sterile, awkward, and somehow impersonal. Millennials experience grief and loss differently from previous generations, and are looking elsewhere for resources to help them cope.
As fate would have it, we recorded Jessica's first episode just a few days before George Floyd was killed and our nation erupted into chaos. Because of her background and unique insights, we felt it was important to invite Jessica back to share her feelings about the ongoing crisis, and provide some helpful tools for addressing topics of racial injustice with those in our own communities.In this episode, Jessica shares her thoughts and feelings around the racial tensions so prevalent today, and gives powerful recommendations for ways each of us can begin to generate empathy and understanding with those who might disagree with us, so our communities might finally begin to heal.
In our inaugural episode, Jessica Murrey joins Cause & Purpose to share stories from her life and career focused on conflict resolution and social justice. We'll delve into the importance of brand and communications strategy for nonprofits, exemplified by her work at The Search for Common Ground. We'll also discuss some of her upcoming projects, including an innovative new mobile game called Pathways, designed to teach teens about activism and self-efficacy.
Throughout her career, Becky Straw has seen the impact stable employment can have on individuals and their families. A self-described “advocate for the unsexy,” Becky has repeatedly gotten involved with causes that foster entrepreneurship and job creation in developing communities around the world.
When her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Zionna Hanson realized that there are serious problems in the way breast cancer is diagnosed and treated. The minimum screening age is typically 40 (far later than many women develop breast cancer) and long-term mental, physical, and emotional care is virtually nonexistent. Z founded Barbells for Boobs to advocate to redefine the standard of care in breast health and improving quality of life post diagnosis.
As a teenager growing up in New Jersey, Maggie Doyne looked ahead to a future already written - college, career, student loans - and realized there must be more out there. During a gap year spent traveling in Southeast Asia, Maggie came face to face with a reality starkly different than the one she had known growing up - a refugee crisis, children forced into hard labor, and families torn apart by the Nepalese civil war. Struck by a deep affinity for the Nepalese people, Maggie new she had to act. She pooled what little resources she had, and together with her cofounder, a local Nepali man named Top Malla, she founded BlinkNow, a nonprofit organization that runs a school, women's center, and children's home in Surkhet Nepal.
Becky Kekula is a social change advocate, dynamic public speaker, and driving force behind the Disability Equality Index (DEI) from Disability:IN. A lifelong advocate for the rights and representation of people living with disabilities, Becky has covered many miles, touched many hearts, and has made a real impact on how people with disabilities are treated in the workplace. Becky joined Cause & Purpose to share her lived experiences, and talk about some of her struggles, successes, and failures from a life advocating for equal treatment for everyone.
Of all the social entrepreneurs we've met, few have had as diverse and unique a career journey as Rama Chakaki. Truly a citizen of the world, Rama spent parts of her youth in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. She's run both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She's pushed boundaries in technology and touched countless lives through uplifting multimedia and purpose-driven e-commerce. Rama joined Cause & Purpose to share stories from her life and career, lessons learned, and discuss her latest ventures, including edSeed, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that gives young refugees the resources they need to succeed in school and provide their entire family a new chance at life outside of a refugee camp.
Shannon Farley is the cofounder and executive director of Fast Forward, an accelerator that focuses specifically on tech nonprofits. To date, they’ve graduated seven cohorts, raised more than $275 million on behalf of their members, and impacted the lives of more than 88 million people. Cause & Purpose was beyond excited to host Shannon and discuss how an entrepreneurial mindset has helped her career journey, from mobilizing the largest network of millennial philanthropists ever to funding the next great nonprofit founders obsessed with making a lasting impact on the world.
Karin Underwood is the Founder and CEO of Verano Health, an accessible mobile platform to provide life-changing diabetes self-management training to low-income Americans with chronic disease. She’s spent a lifetime embedded in social impact, from high school service trips all the way to living in Kenya for two years post-college with the One Acre Fund. Karin joins Cause & Purpose to detail her exciting journey as a nonprofit tech entrepreneur and share countless lessons-learned from a lifetime of firsthand experience interfacing directly with the communities she wants to help. Long before she founded Verano Health and graduated from the Fast Forward nonprofit tech accelerator, Karin Underwood was diving headfirst into service projects with her church and high school. Working with childcare centers, orphanages, and halfway homes for women at this formational time showed her that the world was so much bigger than her comfortable upbringing. The shining example for Karin came while she was in college working with homeless populations in St. Louis. The director of the center where she worked came to a meeting one day without her laptop. When asked what happened, her director said that her house was broken into and had many things stolen. Her response to all this was: “It’s OK, because I’m sure they needed it more than I did. I’m lucky enough to have the resources to get a new computer and replace these things.”“That moment had a huge impact on me. It was compassion in the face of great loss, and it showed me the kind of person I wanted to become.”Inspiration from her mother’s work in healthcare, on-the-ground service in East Africa, and time in the trenches with community health clinics would help her become that person. In this episode, you’ll hear:Heartfelt stories of impact from Karin’s time on the frontlines with patientsWhat a healthcare system of the future could look like in the U.S. About the importance of user-centered design and developmentHow to successfully introduce tech and innovation to people who really need itEditor's Note: In this episode, Karin refers to her company as CoachMe Health. They have since rebranded to Verano Health.
Lisa Wang is the founder and CEO of Almost Fun, an innovative nonprofit organization whose mission it is to ensure low income and BIPOC students have a culturally responsive, accessible, and engaging resources that empower their learning. Almost Fun is also a graduate of FastForward’s nonprofit accelerator program, which we have featured in our startup edition on the podcast. Lisa joins Cause & Purpose for a tactical and enlightening discussion of what needs to change in how educational content is being made, what she learned from her time at Google about educational effectiveness and progress, and the lessons she has already learned in scaling a non-profit startup.
Margaret Laws has distinguished herself as a catalytic leader in health care, forging cross-sector partnerships that drive positive social impact. At Hopelab Margaret leads a multidisciplinary team with expertise in healthcare, academic research, and design to create science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. She is passionate about bringing together government, nonprofit and private-sector stakeholders interested in advancing the role technology can play in supporting and improving health outcomes, with a particular focus on improving care for underserved populations.
Mari Galloway is the CEO and a founding board member of The Women's Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), a Northern Virginia-based non-profit organization passionate about helping and empowering women to succeed in the cybersecurity field. Their primary mission is to advance women in cybersecurity by providing programs and partnerships that promote networking, education, mentoring, resource-sharing, and opportunities. Tennisha Martin is the founder and Executive Director of BlackGirlsHack (BGH Foundation), a national cybersecurity nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and resources to underserved communities and increasing the diversity in cyber. BlackGirlsHack provides black women and girls with resources, mentorship, direction, and training required to enter and excel in the Cybersecurity field.
Caroline Spears is the Executive Director at Climate Cabinet, which began as a volunteer-based team in 2018, when a Texas state legislature candidate asked for climate talking points and policy solutions that were relevant to her district. They realized that this need was not unique: many candidates want to run on strong climate platforms but don’t have the time to simultaneously run a full-time campaign and do cutting-edge policy analysis. Thus, Climate Cabinet Action was born. Climate Cabinet Action has supported candidates and pushed climate on the campaign trail in four campaign cycles, including 2018 state legislature races, 2019 presidential primaries, 2020 state and congressional races, and 2021 Virginia House of Delegates elections. In 2020, they worked with 100 campaigns. Caroline grew up in Houston, Texas which is known for great food and for being the energy capital of today. She grew up with conservationist and pro-oil conversations happening around her and she took note of the tensions. She remembers evacuating for Hurricane Rita and the effects of Tropical Storm Allison. She saw the realities of climate change around her and saw her city grow an awareness of what that really meant. As she got into high school, Caroline took a specific interest in climate change as she tried to process and sort through all of the conflicting research she was hearing about what worked and what didn’t. She was fascinated by the combination of science and social science. In college she focused on answering these questions, even changing her major just before graduation and extending her graduation by two years to be able to take every climate class offered.
Diana Wilson is very proud to be the Founder & CEO of Yielding Accomplished African Women (Yaa.W) and Black Sisters in STEM (Black SiS). They are a globally recognized nonprofit whose work has been featured by MTV, Google, The Malala Fund, Face2Face Africa, Blavity, The Late Afternoon Show with Berla Mundi and many more. Black Sisters in STEM is building the largest talent marketplace of Black college women in STEM and training the next Fortune 500 CEOs, innovators and world class leaders.
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