FARAH MAHESRI

Decolonizing & Impact | Aid Effectiveness | Strategy Consulting

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Let the magic begin #traveladcentures #a
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When your co-workers moved all the plant

DECOLONIZING, EQUITY, INCLUSION

AID EFFECTIVENESS

STRATEGY AND CONSULTING

MY JOURNEY

How do we maximize impact to create change in the world in the most expedient manner?

This central question has been the propellent behind my career and has pushed me to take on new challenges.

I started by thinking more at the policy level – working for the lobbying and advocacy arm of the UN Foundation and engaging with Congressional leaders to support policy and funding initiatives.  Tiring quickly of the politics involved in working on the Hill, I moved to working for large, global social impact organizations helping to manage multi-million dollar programs, enter new markets and design new portfolios. I also worked closely with funders to bring in millions annually in grant proposals. I learned critical lessons from the work that we’ve collectively done over generations to make the world a better place –about equity, about participatory programming, about sustainability, about the approaches that have yielded the best results in different sectors, and about how to measure those results. The work was exciting, but very traditional. I found myself sitting through endless conversations that talked about best practices, not innovations; about the way we have always done things, not how we should do things in a rapidly changing world.


That brought me back home to Silicon Valley and to work at a ed/tech non-profit that ran like a start-up. The work was dynamic, it was innovative and it was bold – no one talked about instrumentalism. The goal and our approaches were about transformative change and massive return on investments. The conversations were about how the world should be, not how it was. I worked directly with a very different set of funders – with agile foundations, and with high-net individuals who were passionate about their giving portfolios and were engaged at the cutting edge of philanthropy.  This too was exciting, but this too was imperfect.  In the desire for change, I found that we weren’t always being thoughtful enough; we were too focused on innovation at the expense of learning from the past, and while we were keeping up in trends in philanthropy (like impact investing and social impact bonds), we weren’t as steeped the latest science and research in the sector (education) that we worked in.


That brought me to my consulting work, where I have tried to bridge between these worlds by engaging with a dynamic set of clients – small and large, established and new, for and non-profit – to combine what I’ve learned. I’ve also launched a portfolio of work in decolonizing, equity and inclusion under one central hypothesis: that if for-profit companies are more profitable and innovative when their teams are inclusive and represent their customer base, then social impact organization will be more impactful if they do the same.


And this central questions keep me moving forward to take on new challenges.

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