Rae Richman always knew she wanted to be involved in community work to enact social change, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s when she attended her first Burning Man, the annual counterculture festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, that she realized she wanted to make it her career.
“It was a transformative experience that opened up my eyes to creativity and self-expression,” says Richman. “I realized that I needed my professional life and personal values to be in sync.”
She left public relations to instead pursue a career in social responsibility. Today, Richman is head of global citizenship for Airbnb, the online platform allowing people worldwide to list, discover, and book unique accommodations.
“Haas helped me understand how to best take my skills and experience to have the most impact,” Richman says.
In her role, Richman develops ways for the company to use its assets for social good, such as providing employees with paid time off to volunteer. Her team also encourages Airbnb’s host community to help during times of need—welcoming medical patients and their families traveling for treatment, for example, or offering free accommodations for low-income high school students visiting colleges.
It’s community engagement similar to what Richman felt at her first Burning Man, an event she’s attended for 20 years. She’s sat on the organization’s board for the last 10 years and still encourages BCEMBAs to attend. She offered free tickets to her graduating class, and two accepted.
“One is a committed Burner now,” Richman says. Another fellow alumna attended her first Burning Man this year. —MR
Head of Global