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Leah Hamilton ’04: Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), NYC
Prior to Columbia, Leah Hamilton spent seven years in the entertainment industry, before deciding to pursue a career in community development and a dual MBA/Master of Social Work degree. “I looked for an internship that would provide experience in community development while challenging me to apply the financial analysis skills I had gained in the core MBA courses,” she says.
Hamilton spent the summer at LISC, an intermediary for corporations and foundations, that aims to transform distressed communities into healthy ones. LISC provides technical and financial resources to help Community Development Corporations become sustainable institutions and has the capacity to carry out a range of community revitalization activities.
Hamilton helped develop the NYC/LISC Education Facilities loan/fund pool, which will accelerate the development of quality and affordable school space in NYC. “I saw first hand how powerful public-private partnerships can be in addressing the most pressing needs of our city’s diverse communities,” she says.
Hamilton drafted a business plan which included creating a financial model with risk assessment and mitigation strategies, produced outreach materials for investors, assisted in structuring underwriting and assessment criteria, and researched other similar loan pools. Her supervisor commented that this work “propelled us to move farther and faster than we were moving in creating this new program.” Hamilton is currently working with a community development corporation in the Bronx. “I get to interact with everyone from political leaders to after-school program participants. It shows me everyday how broadly applicable my new skills can be to improving the overall economic and social health of a community.”