Laura Richard

Director of Development, WE

I was fortunate to witness the deep and meaningful impact of WE’s work on numerous stakeholder groups. From students in North America, who were provided the tools to harness their power for positive social change, to community members in WE Villages, who were provided a hand up through the investments in their communities and developed incredible confidence in their abilities to provide for their families, to employees of WE’s corporate partners, who rallied around their ability to make a difference.

I always say I was provided opportunities at WE that I never would have been given in another organization. The concept of youth empowerment extended to staff, and as a young professional I was provided exposure to Fortune 500 boardrooms and the opportunity to craft business cases for partnership that laid the foundation for long-lasting engagement with WE and powerful stories of meaningful change. Beyond this, working with likeminded colleagues to tackle major social issues created lifelong friendships.

There are a number of partnerships, which I led development of, that still exist today. This is something that I take particular pride in, because it speaks to the strong foundation that they were created from. One such program and partnership is Passion to Heal. This program was developed with Medicis Pharmaceuticals (later acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals) to provide medical professionals with expertise in dermatology the ability to travel to WE Villages in Kenya to deliver specialized care for community members suffering from skin conditions that could not be addressed by the general practitioners in those communities. Witnessing the impact of that program over the first six trips was incredible; not only for the improved health of community members but in seeing the skills being developed amongst the full-time health care team in the community. This partnership is one of the most impactful corporate social responsibility programs I have ever seen, and I am particularly proud of my role in its development and cultivation

The opportunities I was provided while at WE were formative and foundational to my career. In shaping the corporate partnership model and strategies, I learned the critical importance of building a business case that addresses a partner’s objectives and then bringing that business case to life by marrying the assets and objectives of the WE organization and its stakeholders. That experience has served me in powerful ways as my career has continued over the six years since leaving the organization. Today, I am a partner in a consulting firm and I specialize in helping organizations develop and then leverage the right partnerships to drive their business objectives. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the skills that I developed during my time with WE.

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