Vicki Escarra: Bridging the gap between non-profit, corporate worlds

Full Frame

Vicki Escara

This week, Full Frame’s host, Mike Walter, sat down with one of the most influential women in the global non-profit sector, Vicki Escarra. Escarra shared her experiences as a leading executive in both the corporate and non-profit sectors and why she believes solid business approaches can lead to solutions for non-profit organizations.

Escarra’s influence began in the corporate world. Ascending through various leadership positions at Delta Air Lines, Inc., Escarra became one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry and presided over 52,000 employees as the Director of Customer Service at Delta.

After a life-changing experience on September 11, 2001, Escarra decided she wanted to pursue a new path and switched her focus, and career, to the non-profit sector. She became the CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization.  With Escarra as CEO, Feeding America’s donations increased by 300 percent, the number of people they served doubled, and the organization’s revenue quadrupled.

Making the switch to the non-profit sector was one of the most rewarding experiences of Escarra’s life.

Vicki Escarra: Bridging the gap between non-profit, corporate worlds

Vicki Escarra: Bridging the gap between non-profit, corporate worlds

After a life-changing experience on September 11, 2001, Vicki Escarra decided she wanted to pursue a new path and switched her focus, and career, to the non-profit sector. She became the CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. With Escarra as CEO, Feeding America’s donations increased by 300 percent, the number of people they served doubled, and the organization’s revenue quadrupled.

“To actually look at changing the lives of people who have been living in poverty for years and to know, with a certain degree of certainty, that they will move their families and communities out [of poverty] – I mean there’s just nothing like that,” Escarra said.

Today, Escarra is the CEO of Opportunity International, a non-profit organization that provides support to over four million people who are working their way out of poverty in the developing world through savings accounts, small business loans, insurance and job training.

Through her work, Escarra discovered a significant interconnection between the corporate and business sectors – an interconnection that could change the future of global poverty.

“I think if non-profits practice solid business approaches to how they do their work and if they really look for solutions around impact, so that donors can have a degree of certainty that their dollars that are invested really do change lives, the future is very exciting and we can find a solution to global poverty,” Escarra said.

But Escarra says she also realizes that the solution lies in more than just providing underprivileged communities with much-needed essentials – access to stable jobs has to be part of the equation as well.

“Jobs are powerful. Jobs are, in effect, the answer to poverty,” Escarra said. “If you don’t have a job you cannot move your way out of poverty.”

Opportunity International plans to create 20 million jobs by the year 2020.

Follow Vicki Escarra on Twitter: @VickiEscarra