Graduating Impact: Eight years of preparing emerging leaders

Image source: University of Pennsylvania

Image source: University of Pennsylvania

Monday, May 19, 2014 marks the University of Pennsylvania’s 258th Commencement. Each year, our team at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy says farewell to another graduating class of remarkable students.  This year is no different.

Given our university home, and that we have several faculty members on our team, we hold a unique position to drive social change. Through undergraduate and graduate coursework, advising student practicums and independent projects, and research assistant roles and internships, we strengthen the field overall by preparing the next generation of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders. Now in our eighth year, we continue to strengthen our mission of maximizing the social impact of philanthropy by teaching and graduating impact.

Many of our Center alumni—or “CHIPs Off the Block”—have gone off to places such as Google, McKinsey & Company, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Arabella Advisors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Broad Foundation.  Others have started social enterprises (Numa) and joined new social ventures (UpLift Solutions) around healthy foods. A few have continued their studies in PhD programs in anthropology, positive psychology, and evaluation for education programs. Others are charging ahead in community engagement, such as teaching adolescent and reproductive health in community centers and hospitals. Below we’ve featured some of these voices of social change as they describe the lessons they’ve learned while working and learning at Penn.

When we think about our impact as a Center, we think not only about helping dollars flow to where they can do the most good, but also our role in preparing these talented, committed young people to make a positive social impact, no matter their chosen career. To our graduating students and Center alumni, we wish you all the best, and look forward to staying in touch!

Here’s what our “CHIPs” off the block have to say about what drew them to the Center and their experience as part of our team:

Katey Peck, School of Arts and Sciences: Prior to working at the Center I had never thought to quantify things in terms of impact.  As someone who is interested in global health policy and delivery, this is a key concept; for instance, in evaluating a program to combat malaria, you would want to know not only the number of insecticide-treated bed nets distributed to a target population, but also the overall health improvements as a result of your intervention.  Focusing on impact takes analyses a step further and really allows you to demonstrate the tangible changes you have inspired in the lives of others.

Katey’s next step: Katey has several exciting job offers that will allow her to pursue her interests in global public health and issues affecting women and girls.  Wherever she chooses to go, we’re sure she’ll rock it!


Mike Driver, Wharton: I learned how to consider different stakeholders and the importance of local engagement in successful philanthropic programs. This work applies directly to the social enterprise that I aim to start in Indonesia related to education mobility.

Mike’s next step:  Pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions in Indonesia, and working full-time for Asian Development Bank.

Lauren Kobylarz, Fels Institute of Government: After working as a graduate fellow at a foundation, I was interested in learning more about how donors can make a difference through social impact.  CHIP’s expertise in that area was a great match.  I learned that even though impact may be challenging to define, there are many different measurement methods out there. I am always impressed by how much different organizations can learn from one another.


Lauren’s next step:  Lauren has already started her role as Program Manager at Students Run Philly Style, a mentoring program in Philadelphia that uses long-distance running to inspire youth ages 12-8 to set and achieve their goals.

Claire Shimberg, School of Arts and Sciences: I wanted to get involved with the Center because I am very interested in assessing the impact of philanthropy.  I learned so much about the philanthropic process and how important it is to have an understanding of the space you are hoping to help. As I head into the nonprofit sector, I hope to apply what I learned at CHIP and ensure that I continue to work for organizations that are having a real impact.

Claire’s next step:  Serving as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C.

Eliza Goode, Wharton: I saw being a marketing intern at CHIP as the perfect opportunity to combine my interests in social impact and marketing.  I love that the Center is constantly trying to redefine and clarify what “impact” means, and will continue to do so as the space changes.  I wanted to be a part of that and spread the message of what the Center is doing to a broader audience.

Eliza’s next stop:   Working as a marketing analyst at American Express in New York City.

Jamie Holliday, School of Social Policy and Practice: I joined the team at CHIP because I was interested in learning more about the philanthropic space in Philadelphia.  What I ended up gaining was a much broader perspective on the sector.  My biggest takeaway is a better understanding of nonprofit evaluation and the metrics used to measure effective programs.

Jamie’s next step:  Heading to India to work at Worthwhile Wear, a nonprofit that supports women and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking.

Meghna Mann, School of Arts and Sciences: I heard Kat Rosqueta speak to an MBA class about the Center’s approach to improving impact in the social sector, and it really resonated with me. Over the summer, I worked with foundations, endowments and family offices seeking to make their donations go the extra mile – and CHIP helps them do exactly that. CHIP brings together the best practices in the private sector with the best thinking in the social and public sectors to help create impact that is far-reaching and long-lasting.

Meghna’s next step:  Heading to New York City to work at BlackRock, the world’s largest investment management firm.

Susli Lie, Wharton: I was drawn to CHIP because of the mission, the absolutely excellent team, and the impactful work they are doing to rigorously evaluate what works and what doesn’t within philanthropy.  CHIP’s guidance informs better donor decisions and catalyzes improvements in the field.

Susli’s next step:  Working on her own start-up venture, Dana Cita, which recently won the inaugural Social Impact Prize at the Wharton Business Plan Competition.