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Alumni Profile

Profile Kate McElligott, SIS/MA '13

SIS Alumni Profile Kate McElligott

Current title and organization:
Director of Strategic Development, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

Degree(s) and grad year(s):
MA Social Enterprise 2013

What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?
There was something really special about my first semester at SIS that I will never forget. It was during those few months that I forged new relationships with fellow students including social activists, strategic thinkers, and global social entrepreneurs. It was a challenge to become a student again after 7 years in international development and while I remember digesting the articles, books and reports we were assigned the discussion we had in class debating current issues on economic theory and our post-financial crisis reality were really the most valuable. I learned so much from my professors, classmates, and special guest speakers. I will look back at that first semester very fondly.

What has been a--possibly unexpected--pivotal experience or piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position?
We studied quite a bit about collective impact, cross-sector collaboration, and private-public partnerships. In my new role at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs I'm proud to promote collaboration between key players. This allows for a broader ecosystem approach to developing emerging market economies, ensuring greater diversity and resiliency. Private corporations, government agencies and social enterprises all have a critical role to play.

Why I chose SIS?
I liked the focus on experiential learning, the access to professionals outside of class, the flexibility of the courses, and the balance of management and business skills with other more academic-based theories. I chose the program because I knew I wanted to continue to work in the social enterprise space but expand my knowledge base and skill set. For me it was the perfect opportunity to do so.

How I make a difference in the world?
I go to work every day hoping that what I do makes a difference. I'm currently excited about promoting the work that small and growing businesses have on their local economies in countries like Brazil, India, South Africa and Kenya. I'm hopeful that I can help strategic partners from all sectors successfully fund and promote initiatives that benefit the lives of the poor in these economies. There is so much latent talent, enthusiasm and willingness to take risks that can be harnessed for good.

Field of study?
Social enterprise

World issue of interest?
Economic development and women's empowerment

Professional role model?
I learn something from everyone I work with.

Favorite book?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Betty Smith

Favorite movie?
The Usual Suspects; neo-noir film by Brian Singer