Mari Kuraishi was immersed in a successful career with the The World Bank, managing international projects and loans for sovereign governments, when she was invited to attend CCL’s Women’s Leadership Program.

The savvy, successful leader with a string of degrees and numerous executive education programs under her belt found something completely new at CCL.

Senior Leader Changes Course: Unleashing Creativity to Launch Global Nonprofit and Inspire Others
Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and President of GlobalGiving

“CCL didn’t try to teach me discreet content, like finance or strategy that other companies would try to teach. CCL taught me the lesson of being more personally aware,” Mari recalls. “I learned a lot about my personal strengths and weaknesses, and gained awareness of the things that I was doing unconsciously instead of consciously.”

The course provides in-depth assessment and feedback in a context of research that delves into women’s leadership and work experiences.

“I was placed with people I did not know, unlike my other programs that placed me with my co-workers,” she says. “It really highlighted the ways everyone coped with different tasks, challenges and relationships. In an all-women setting, it really provided experiential learning.”

The experience turned out to be transformative for Mari. In addition to greater understanding of her leadership style she “returned with an appreciation for creating things. I brought home the value of creating things for myself, creating new strategies, creating new things in general.”

As a result of that new focus, Mari established the Development Marketplace of The World Bank, a flagship initiative that is still in place today. Yet, her passion to create, innovate and find new solutions soon led her in a different direction.

A Career Turning Point

In 2002, Mari and colleague Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving, a charity fundraising Web site that helps groups anywhere in the world raise the money that they need to improve their communities. As of October 2011, GlobalGiving has raised $52,285,859 from 222,512 donors who have supported 4,644 projects.

Looking back on her decision to create GlobalGiving, Mari says, “I often tell the story of how the Women’s Leadership course at CCL marked a real turn in my professional life, even though I was by most measures quite happy and successful in my career at the World Bank. It turned my life around.”

Recently, Mari realized that a CCL experience could make a powerful difference in the life of another young leader, Jennifer Sigler, GlobalGiving’s CFO.

“Jennifer is among the most accomplished and mature 30-year-olds I have met in my career both at the World Bank and among high-achieving social entrepreneurs (a young crowd). And something about her reminds me of what I must have been like at age 30, before the World Bank saw fit to send me off to the Women’s Leadership course at CCL.”

“I thought it would be a good idea for Jennifer to attend WLP because she is incredibly talented, driven and effective, but she needed to be more aware of her own strengths. I wanted to pass on to Jennifer the CCL ‘experiential approach,’ so she could discover her own passions.”

CCL awarded Jennifer a scholarship to The Women’s Leadership Program, which she attended in June 2011. Jennifer, like Mari, found the program to be insightful and valuable. “This opportunity allowed Jennifer to discover what it is that really makes her tick,” Mari says.

The Women’s Leadership Program flipped a switch in me that let me recognize the deep satisfaction I take in creating something. The now ten-year journey of GlobalGiving has all been about creation.

Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and President of GlobalGiving

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