C Stands for Cool

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation
Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation

Kathy Calvin is one cool Changemaker.

How else do you describe a woman who teams up with world leaders, rides motorcycles, goes to Burning Man, and does it all with grace and gravitas? It’s no wonder why Newsweek magazine named her as one of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

Currently President and CEO of the UN Foundation, Kathy described herself as a problem solver and translator, which served her well while working as one of the first female press secretaries in the US. Throughout her career she has held leadership positions at US News and World Report, Hill and Knowlton, and AOL. Her colorful background spanning the public and private sectors provided a unique perspective on how to navigate work and life, fostering meaningful connections along the way.

Here are some key takeaways from Kathy:

  • On being a prepared Changemaker: Change happens so you have to be able to change with it; recognize when it’s not the right place for you and when you are not bringing your best self forward.
  • On connecting with others: Don’t focus on being perfect, instead channel some of that energy into connecting with others and looking for your next opportunity.
  • On saying so long to doubt: Check your anxiety at the door; you can’t always interpret your reception by how others respond to you. You don’t know what they have going on in their life.
  • On being a gender bender: Advocate for women by identifying problems when you see them and thinking of creative ways to affect change. Remember that inclusivity is the real goal; gender is only one part of diversity.
  • On listening well: Ask yourself three questions as a listener:
    • Has the speaker done enough thinking to put a case together?
    • What experience in the speaker’s life is reflected in their ideas?
    • Is the speaker able to answer unexpected questions to show thinking power and agility?

Lastly, Kathy encouraged all of the women in the room to explore different sectors, immersing themselves in their distinct languages and ways of operating, and to always remember to have fun. That’s some of the coolest advice yet. Thanks Kathy for your contributions and commitment to being a Changemaker.