Social Impact MBA

"I didn't want a traditional MBA."

By Anne Lizette Sta. Maria

When Katie Twomey, MBA’21, was growing up, her father worked on Wall Street. Her mother ran a local nonprofit. It only made sense for her to eventually find her way to Heller’s Social Impact MBA program. 

Drawn to Helping Others

Twomey graduated with a bachelor’s in management and started her career at a leading asset management firm. But with each passing year, the desire to use her skills to give back to others grew stronger and she found herself drawn to organizations and roles where she could make a meaningful impact.  

Twomey spent the next few years of her career at an international nonprofit. Now having experienced the full spectrum of traditional investing to philanthropy, she started seeking out environments where she could officially merge her business experience with her passion for social change.

Making the Leap

Where the lines came together was Heller’s Social Impact MBA program. Heller provided Twomey the unique opportunity to not only combine her interests, but also to walk away with skills “applicable to any business challenge — whether it be at a nonprofit or for-profit.”

She maintains that what set the Social Impact MBA apart from a traditional one was its collaborative — rather than competitive — culture: “The people that would be attracted to this type of program are people that I want to learn from and be in community with. People wanted to uplift each other as opposed to compete for the same resources.” 

Impactful Involvement

At Heller, Twomey gravitated toward impact investing experiences. She completed a Team Consulting Project with Reinventure Capital, a fund that focuses on businesses led by women and people of color. She also interned at Boston Impact Initiative, which works with communities of color to close the racial wealth gap. 

Additionally, Twomey took part in Heller’s startup challenge, served as a career development liaison for Heller’s chapter of Net Impact, and became a board fellow for the organization Invest in Girls.

Acknowledging Privilege 

Twomey fondly remembers an “asset story” assignment that she completed for the Assets and Social Policy course (now known as “Perspectives on Economic and Racial Equity,”) which focused on examining privilege and its impact on wealth accumulation over generations.

“It really opened my eyes to the impact that generations of racial inequality has had on one’s ability to build wealth, and as a white woman with class privilege, it’s my responsibility to do something about it.”

Taking It to the Real World

Her work at Heller focused on working with companies and organizations using innovative solutions to shift the flow of capital into the hands of those who have been historically left out of traditional funding streams. Today, Twomey continues that work through her role at Illumen Capital, an impact fund of funds addressing systemic inequity by reducing racial and gender bias in investing. When Illumen invests in a fund, not only do they focus on identifying impact-oriented fund managers, they also put them through a curriculum to reduce bias to help create a more equitable asset management space.  

Twomey believes that her pattern of working with impact-oriented investors throughout her time at Heller made her a strong candidate for the position. “Everything that I did at Heller ended up contributing to my future role, where I am right now,” she says. “I was looking for a more holistic education that I could take with me into the world to be a better person and contribute more to the causes that I cared about.”