MIT Innovator Elizabeth McDonald Joins Prosperity Catalyst as Executive Director

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Social Innovations Leader Poised to Take Social Enterprise to Next Level

Libby brings a unique depth of experience and commitment to our mission as we continue to build women-led businesses in low-income countries.

Prosperity Catalyst, an international nonprofit that launches women-led businesses in distressed countries, recently named MIT innovation leader Libby McDonald as Executive Director. McDonald will join the organization on April 8th.

McDonald has been brought on to lead Prosperity Catalyst’s growing operations in Haiti and Iraq, as well as its international team, headquartered in Cambridge, MA. Since 2012, Prosperity Catalyst has trained 175 women in business skills for launching networks of enterprises that engage in the global economy. In 2013, the organization was awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues to expand its operations in Iraq. The organization's primary goal is to incubate networks of women-led businesses in fragile zones. With McDonald’s leadership, the organization believes it can best accomplish what few have succeeded in doing.

"We are thrilled to have Libby McDonald join Prosperity Catalyst – especially at this time in our evolution as an organization,” said Linda Strohmeyer, Chair of the Prosperity Catalyst Board of Directors. “Libby brings a unique depth of experience and commitment to our mission as we continue to build women-led businesses in low-income countries. She not only has the vision for creating new opportunities in the most challenged parts of the world – she brings a keen understanding of how to use sustainable business approaches that foster social justice and economic development."

Libby comes to Prosperity Catalyst from MIT’s Community Innovators Lab where she served as Program Director for Global Sustainability Partnerships since 2009, creating regional networks of small businesses in Brazil, India, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Panama to support families living in poverty. Her varied career also includes Instructor for MIT’s D-Lab; consultant for innovative waste-to-energy projects; author of The Toxic Sandbox, Penguin Group (2008); founder and director of two charter schools that served low-income communities in New Jersey and New York; film producer, director and script writer. McDonald replaces Siiri Morley, founder and Executive Director of Prosperity Catalyst, who left the organization in October 2014.

“Three qualities jumped out at me about the expertise Libby brings to this role: first, innovation – her ability to see complex challenges faced by vulnerable women in impoverished areas in a new light and apply creative business thinking that solves real problems; second, leadership – her ability to build communities and to inspire through broad knowledge and trust; and finally, passion – she clearly shares our passion and commitment for creating solutions that will make a difference in the lives of women and their communities around the world,” continued Strohmeyer.

"My passion and dedication is about empowering women because they are key agents for creating social change," said McDonald. "When women are provided with an opportunity to earn livelihood income, their families are transformed first, and then their larger communities." McDonald continued, "There is a tremendous opportunity for me to build on all that has been established at Prosperity Catalyst by offering women living in challenged regions the opportunities they need to engage in the formal economy. Ultimately, I am very excited to be joining the Prosperity Catalyst team in that they not only provide essential business administration training designed for a low-literacy population, but they are implementing a truly innovative model for enterprise creation that links disenfranchised women with global markets. I cannot wait to get started!"

About Prosperity Catalyst: Prosperity Catalyst is a 501c3 with a mission to launch, incubate then exit women-led, women owned businesses in distressed countries, creating opportunities for women to achieve economic empowerment. We target our work in some of the toughest parts of the world and focus on training and supporting our entrepreneurs in business acumen, technical expertise and life skills as well as providing access to local and international markets. Through our partnerships with local and international experts, business leaders, community organizations and supply chain partners, we strive to build strong local communities and networks to support long term sustainability for the women entrepreneurs and the businesses we help to launch. We envision a world where all women have the opportunity, capacity and support to become powerful catalysts for social and economic change. For more information visit http://www.prosperitycatalyst.org.

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