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Monday, November 1, 2021

Meet the Team: My Nonprofit Journey - Laura Andes

Welcome to our Meet The Team series, where each month we will introduce a member of the Charity Navigator team to our readers. We are extremely honored to be a part of the nonprofit community where our footprint (and our ratings!) have expanded, and we are incredibly appreciative of the support received from our donors and users, nonprofits, and funders. We hope this series will be enlightening and entertaining. Click here for other profiles.

My name is Laura Andes, and I am the Vice President of Impact Ratings here at Charity Navigator. My role is to continue to expand Charity Navigator’s capacity to accurately rate nonprofit impact and to help drive donors towards the most cost-effective nonprofits. I believe that by providing donors with accurate information on cost effectiveness and impact, we can center programmatic impact as a key tenant of charitable giving. 

I was attracted to nonprofit work because I have always been motivated by the injustice in the world and a strong belief that everyone should have equal access to greater health and economic mobility for themselves and their families. My journey truly began during a semester studying in post-Apartheid South Africa in the late 90s. Seeing both the terrible legacy of Apartheid, paired with the tremendous sense of hope led to me to return in 2000 to support education and health programs for a small nonprofit. Being in South Africa further inspired me to dedicate my life to poverty reduction and health promotion, and, as a result, I soon obtained a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on global health.

Laura Andes in Nepal

Following the completion of my Master’s program, I joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to work on global health issues. At that time, new resources were pouring into global health, particularly in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria control programs, and I was lucky enough to join the U.S. Government’s President's Malaria Initiative team as it was being launched. Over the next several years, I worked with a growing team of experts to scale proven malaria interventions across Africa, honing my strategy, program development, and monitoring and evaluation skills along the way. It was an exciting time as we were able to harness the massive amounts of new resources and direct them towards proven and cost-effective resources such as insecticide-treated nets, and truly make a dent in malaria-related mortality. 

Laura Andes in Senegal

In 2015, I set my sights on issues closer to home, namely the lack of affordable housing and the issues of domestic poverty. Working as the internal evaluator for a large affordable houser with onsite services, I was exposed to a variety of service programs, ranging from afterschool programs, to health and wellness programs for seniors. Leaning into my love of data and a desire to help the organization continually improve its programs, I worked tirelessly to demonstrate the impact of our services on the population and community. Being able to prove, with data, that a program not only appeared to be creating good, but also was actually doing good was extremely rewarding to me. On the flip side, being able to also highlight a less impactful program was equally rewarding, as it allowed for scarce resources to be shifted.

For those reasons, when I saw the opening for this leadership position focused on rating impact, I knew I had to apply. Charity Navigator’s well-known brand had the potential to do, at scale, what I had aimed to do throughout my career: demonstrate the impact of programs and shift resources towards those programs. I am excited for the opportunity to have joined such a small and mighty team, motivated by the work of nonprofit organizations and the promise of impactful giving to promote opportunity and justice around the world. 

Authored by Laura Andes, Vice President of Impact Ratings at Charity Navigator.

Photo Credits: Photo - Nepal and Senegal, both Laura Andes, All Rights Reserved.

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Not my blog but response to anothers(?)! said...

Amazing work. Hopefulness can spread. Positivism is infectious. How I wish I had known who I have become throughout my late 40's to now 60. You're inspiring Spread this profile.

Unknown said...

I loved your blog Laura. God bless you for the work you do. I grew up in the foster care system in New York and here in Dallas TX I'm celebrating 35 years for founding Dare to Dream Children's Foundation. Many blessings always, Jan Tennyson