Social Impact MBA

Expanding access to contraception

Kate Barrett, MBA'12, is director of Development Strategy at Upstream USA. In her role, Barrett works closely with the co-founder to build and lead strategic fundraising initiatives and systems to drive Upstream's continued growth and impact nationally. Prior to joining Upstream in January 2018, Barrett was the Boston executive director for the GreenLight Fund, a national venture philanthropy investing in nonprofit organizations serving low-income children, youth and families, with particular focus on sustainability, evidence of impact and innovation. 

Please briefly describe your role. 
Upstream USA is a national nonprofit that expands access to all forms of contraception to reduce unplanned pregnancy and improve economic opportunity. Upstream helps health centers across the country eliminate barriers that prevent women from obtaining the full range of contraceptive methods so that all women are empowered to become pregnant only when they want to. In my role I work closely with the co-founder to build and lead strategic fundraising initiatives and systems to drive Upstream’s continued growth and impact nationally.
How did the Heller MBA program help prepare you for this position?
The frameworks that I learned during my time at Heller, I still use today in managing projects, diagnosing an issue and charting strategy. I also have found my ability to read, analyze and interpret financial statements to be a key skill across different roles (in my experience as funder, but also as a fundraiser). And finally, while fundraising and development are very much an art, I learned the science and process behind the work that made a topic that can be overwhelming ("no money, no mission!") much more formulaic and approachable. 
Anything you'd like to add related to the MBA program or Heller more broadly?
Two things that I continue to value about my Heller experience are:

  1. Being in classes with students from other degree programs (eg. MPP, SID) who brought unique perspectives to group work and class discussions.
  2. The cases we studied in classes were about 60% nonprofit and 40% for-profit, which allowed us to apply a social justice lens to not only cases in the nonprofit sector, but also in the context of for-profit business.