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Karen Gottlieb

Karen Gottlieb ’85: Nonprofit health care

Despite working in an industry plagued by chronic understaffing, Karen Gottlieb, executive director of the AmeriCares Free Clinics program, remains upbeat. “When you’re in nonprofit,” she explains, “you often have to work the equivalent of two full-time jobs; but I love what I do, which makes it all worthwhile.” While it may be common to hear decision makers talk about heavy workloads and tout their own versatility, Gottlieb’s ability to handle the roles of businessperson, fund-raiser and even nurse in her organization offers a distinct view of what it means to be in charge.

Gottlieb enrolled in the School to create a career path outside of health care, and upon graduating she worked for a money-management firm on Wall Street. Within a year, she longed to return to the field she had left and found a job marketing medical equipment. Later, Gottlieb accepted what she describes as a more emotionally rewarding” position directing a cardiac rehabilitation program in New Haven.

Gottlieb joined AmeriCares, the nonprofit disaster-relief and humanitarian-aid organization, as a volunteer in 1993, traveling to Siberia on one of her first assignments to assess medical needs on the Yamal Peninsula. Bob Macauley, founder of AmeriCares, then asked her to work closer to home in Connecticut to help design and build the Free Clinics domestic program. Her role was addressing the medical needs of residents who cannot afford health care insurance but do not qualify for government assistance.

Gottlieb opened and now oversees additional clinics in Danbury and southeastern Connecticut. Her responsibilities range from recruiting volunteer doctors and soliciting donations from pharmaceutical companies to overseeing staffing and planning budgets. “The beauty of my job is that no two days are ever the same,” comments Gottlieb. “Today I’m in the clinic, and tomorrow I might be doing fund-raising or making a presentation to a medical association. It’s a wide, wide array of responsibility.”

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2014 Social Enterprise Conference

Millennials Rising: What's Next for Sustainability?

When: October 31, 2014,
8:30 am-6:00pm

The Marriott Marquis
1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
Between 45th and 46th Streets
New York, NY 10036

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The annual Social Enterprise Conference at Columbia Business School brings together thought leaders from across private, nonprofit, public, and academic sectors to share best practices, debate critical issues, and collaborate on innovative concepts to inspire change. Through interactive sessions, keynote speakers, workshops, a pitch competition, and networking opportunities, the conference presents guests with the opportunity to partake in the most important business and societal conversation of this new era. For updates on speakers and sessions, please visit the conference website.

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Summer Fellowship Program

Microfinance models help women of Burkina Faso

Read about the experiences of our summer fellows as they help create social and environmental value.


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