Month: August 2015

Boston-Kelsea-MAF

 

No stranger to new places, Kelsea McDonough has lived all over the world: from Santiago, Chile, and Granada, Spain, to San Francisco and Oakland, which she’s now proud to call home. But she originally hailed from Boston, where she graduated from Tufts University with degrees in Spanish and Psychology.

During her formative years in Boston,

Kelsea volunteered at an immigrant advocacy nonprofit and worked at a rape crisis center. She then had the opportunity to spend a year in Granada, Spain, teaching English to preschoolers. Upon her return, she made her way to the Bay Area. She worked for several years in fund development at Prospera (formerly WAGES: Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security), an Oakland nonprofit that empowers low-income Latinas to build workerowned cooperatives. During that time, Kelsea also volunteered as a domestic violence counselor at WOMAN Inc. in San Francisco.Kelsea-Development-Manager-MAF

She first learned about MAF in 2013.

A colleague came to Kelsea raving about her great experience building credit through Lending Circles, and Kelsea was immediately inspired to join a Lending Circle with a group of co-workers. She still remembers the day they formed their circle, which they named “Celery Sticks with Buffalo Sauce” — the snack they were enjoying at the time.

Kelsea strongly believes that we must break down barriers to the financial mainstream for low-income communities in the U.S., and she’s admired MAF’s innovative Lending Circles strategy for many years. From the moment she walked into MAF’s colorful, high-energy office, she was impressed by how the team lives its values on a daily basis.

“Now that I’m here, every day I’m inspired by the whole team’s drive to push the envelope on creating meaningful financial products for low-income consumers.”

What does Kelsea find so inspiring about MAF? “Everything!” she says, “but I’m especially fascinated by how MAF uplifts informal community practices of lending and borrowing money and formalizes them so people can enter the financial mainstream.” Having seen a similar strengths-based approach in action at Prospera, she believes that this is the most effective way to achieve social change. Kelsea also admires MAF’s ability to seamlessly navigate so many fields, from community development and asset building to financial inclusion and FinTech.

Today, Kelsea manages the growth of MAF’s individual donor program and supports our overall marketing and development efforts. With the growing cultural consciousness about the need for more economic mobility — especially in the Bay Area where income inequality is skyrocketing — the time is ripe to mobilize support for MAF’s programs. Philanthropy brings people
together to create a world where everyone can thrive.

Kelsea is excited to help MAF realize its bold plan to scale Lending Circles across the country.

In her free time, Kelsea enjoys exploring the Bay Area by bike, practicing kundalini yoga, and taking leisurely strolls around Lake
Merritt. She has an unabashed love of cheesy pop music and makes playlists (both cheesy and non-cheesy) for any and all
occasions.

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Portland-Elena-MAF

 

Elena Fairley is a brand new MAFista, but her connection to MAF began three years ago. She first heard about MAF during a presentation at the California Co-op Conference. She was passionate about supporting local community members and entrepreneurs, so the idea of social lending clicked with her immediately.

Soon after, she organized a group of her friends into a Lending Circle.

Even now, Elena’s memory of her Lending Circle experience is vivid and warm: she remembers sharing stories, food, and laughter, and supporting one another achieve their goals. Her circle dubbed themselves “Holy Monkeys, We’ve Got Credit!” — a name that turned out to be true, given the big increases in their credit scores.

Elena-Partner-Success-MAFNeedless to say, Elena has been a fan of MAF ever since.

Before settling in Oakland, Elena was born and raised in Portland, OR, and graduated from Colorado College with a degree in International Political Economy. As you might
guess from the list of places she’s called home, she’s an outdoor adventure fanatic. When she’s not at work, you can find her outside, splitting her time between rock climbing, surfing, hiking, and biking.

This connection to MAF was no accident.

Elena has been a long-time believer in the power of communities to come together to support one another. Before coming to MAF, Elena was the Learning & Partnerships Director at Prospera (formerly WAGES). This Oakland nonprofit provides training and assistance to Latina entrepreneurs so they can build co-ops — local businesses that are owned collectively by the workers.

At Prospera, Elena had the unique experience of seeing groups of determined, entrepreneurial women come together, pool their skills and resources, start businesses, and achieve economic prosperity. Much like Lending Circles, co-ops are all about leveraging the strengths of communities.

So why MAF?

The second she saw this opportunity, Elena felt a connection. It was an exciting role, a chance to work at the organization she’d admired for so long — a prospect she new she had to explore. Elena is thrilled to have been hired as MAF’s newest Partner Success Manager. She looks forward to forming close relationships with many of MAF’s diverse partners, from Game Theory Academy in Oakland to The Resurrection Project in Chicago.

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