Laura Callanan is an independent consultant, author and teacher in the field of social innovation.
From 2008-2013, Laura was a consultant with McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office, where she led work on foundation strategy and social innovation, as well as sustainable capitalism and social investing. Laura was the lead author of From Potential to Action: Bringing Social Impact Bonds to the US, the most comprehensive report on this new public-private approach to scaling social services. Working on social impact assessment, Laura developed the Learning for Social Impact initiative, and authored Learning for Social Impact: What Foundations Can Do. She also was the primary investigator on a study Supporting Leaders Who Scale What Works, which looks at the capabilities and opportunities social sector leaders need to succeed.
Prior to joining McKinsey, Laura was an independent consultant working with The Synergos Institute, a nonprofit organization addressing global poverty and social injustice and E-Line Ventures, a double bottom line investment fund focused on video games with social impact.
She served as senior adviser at the United Nations Development Programme in the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, where she was chief of staff with additional responsibilities for resource mobilization and external communications.
As executive director of The Prospect Hill Foundation, Laura led all aspects of the Foundation’s strategy development and grantmaking. The Prospect Hill Foundation funds primarily in the areas of environmental conservation, reproductive health and rights, and nuclear non-proliferation.
As associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation, Laura had general management responsibility for all activities related to the $3 billion endowment, and investment responsibility for the Foundation’s venture capital and private equity portfolio. Laura was also a member of the Foundation’s Program Venture Experiment (ProVenEx) commitment committee and oversaw investment decisions for program-related investments and similar public-private activities.
Prior to joining Rockefeller, Laura was associate treasurer for the Wallace Foundation. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Public Administration degree, she worked in public finance investment banking serving universities and other large endowed nonprofit organizations on behalf of Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan and Moody’s Investors Service. Laura’s undergraduate degree is from Barnard College of Columbia University.
Laura is a frequent speaker at leading social sector conferences including the Skoll World Forum, SoCap, the annual Independent Sector conference, and the Social Impact Exchange. She is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where she teaches on the nonprofit capital marketplace.
Laura is a past member of the board of directors of Signature Theater Company, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and Rhizome.org, and of the audit committee for the International Women’s Health Coalition. Laura was a founding investment committee member and audit committee member for the American Academy of Arts and Letters.