Social Impact Consulting Panel

Social Impact Consulting Panel

Jennifer Kawar and Laura Tilghman
Photo by Bruce Cook

November 9, 2015

The annual Social Impact Consulting Career Panel broke our own speaker series attendance record this year! It is always a popular event, and this year more than 100 people filled the room to hear the perspectives of the accomplished panel members. The all female panel was made up of distinct leaders in the social impact space and moderated by Kimberly Wright-Violich, the co-founder and managing partner of Tideline.

2015 Panelists:

  • Alison Colwell, Associate Director, Advisory Services, BSR
  • Jennifer Kawar, Chief Investment Officer, Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • Willa Seldon, Partner, Bridgespan Group
  • Laura Tilghman, Senior Consultant, FSG

View the complete panelist bios online.

Panelists shared a little about the work they do in their diverse organizations, some of their favorite and most difficult projects, and some fulfilling and challenging aspects of the job. But some of the best take-aways came from panelists when they shared their career paths and the decisions they made to get to their current organizations.

  • Their career paths were a zig zag: All of the panelists shared that their career paths have been non linear. They moved across sectors, having had experiences in nonprofit, for-profit, government, etc. They work with people who also have a wide variety of experiences and they learn a lot from their colleagues because of the diverse backgrounds.
  • The people they work for and with are a priority: In some way or another, each panelist found their career path by finding great people to work with, who they could learn the most from and who would invest in their development. They also looked for people they respected.
  • The Mission of the Organization: The panelists were united in correlating a strong mission with a great organization. They stressed the importance of working for an organization with a strong mission, a clear focus and work that drives and aligns with the mission.
  • Perspective: The panelists recommended choosing a career path that allows for different perspectives. For example, getting experience at the corporate office or headquarters is just as important as spending time working in the field or at the implementation level.

Jennifer Kawar summed it up when she shared, “You have to be much more intentional about how you manage your career …because the notion of lifetime employment is long gone. You have to think in terms of where am I going, where are the learning opportunities that are best for me and who are the people in this organization that I want to work with and …you have take a more active role in managing (your) their assignments.”

The panelists all agree that it is an exciting time to work in the sector and there is a growing sophistication in the work they are doing as well as greater integration of the sectors. People are recognizing that there is a need to develop career paths in the nonprofit sector and to train the next generation of leaders for the sector so that we can achieve more impact.

If you are interested in learning more about the sector, including nonprofits, philanthropy, impact investing, corporate sustainability, social impact, etc. check out both the CSSL and CRB’s websites.

Visit our YouTube channel to watch the entire Social Impact Consulting Panel event.