On a trip to Ethiopia as part of a U.S. Congressional delegation, Kate Grant visited a hospital for women suffering from fistula.
The condition, caused by obstructed childbirth, leaves its victims incon- tinent and often shunned by their families. Grant was deeply moved by how surgery restored the women’s lives. “I thought, if I ever have money, I’d put it here,” she says.
Now, 20 years later, Grant has raised tens of millions of dollars for fistula surgery since joining the Fistula Foundation as its first CEO in 2005. The organization has gone from supporting one hospital to more than 100 in 28 countries and nearly tripling its budget to $6 million. Her success earned her the 2014 Nonprofit Marketer of the Year award from the American Marketing Association in July.
Grant attributes much of the foundation’s growth to her Haas training. “I learned how to ask, ‘What’s the real problem we’re trying to solve? What’s the niche we are trying to fill?’” she says. “In our case it was surgery to repair fistula. And that makes it easy to communicate the concept to donors.”
Travel has shaped Grant’s career. After graduating from Berkeley, she worked in advertising then took a seven-month trip around the world. “I became disillusioned with developing creative ways to sell things to people,” she says.
Instead, she earned a master’s of public affairs from Princeton in 1994 then worked for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and with USAID, both in Washington, D.C., and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, before returning to California.
Looking ahead, Grant plans to expand hospital services in developing countries. Currently only about 2 percent of women who need fistula surgery receive it.
For those women, it changes their lives dramatically, ” she says. “They go from being outcasts to getting their lives back.” —ME
CEO, Fistula Foundation
San Jose, CA