OfOtherPanoramaFrom 1997 to 2005 I held a variety of positions as a teaching artist. I worked with students for whom English was a second language to engage with topics such as math and science. Together, we discovered ways to weave their cultural heritages, identities and knowledge into our work in an effort to decolonize education.

I came to appreciate the critical role that funding played in Editorial1297361663-MZirpel0211aenabling opportunities for my students to engage with this work and more importantly, their imaginations and creativity. My curiosity led me to Ireland to work with public funding institutions. I was provided the chance to learn more about the levers these entities have access to and ways they could be engaged to enable creativity strategies. Through this experience I was able to \engage in a cross-cultural exploration of the ways another country approaches public policy and civic investment in the arts. This experience exposed me to the world of philanthropy, which was only just emerging in the wake of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger. Eager to learn more about the levers this sector had access to and the ways they could be engaged to enrich environments of citizen creativity, I headed back to San Francisco.

In 2006, I joined McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Practice, where I was afforded the opportunity look deep under the hood of foundations. Inspired by the ways that a few national funders were using the lever of policy to affect change, I left the firm after a year and a half to pursue a Masters Degree, focused on the cultural dimension of public policy.