When Philanthropy Goes Professional

Pablo G. Bejerano

Jamie van Horne, nominated for the EPIC prizes in the category of Human Success, has a strong sense of community. She grew up in Healdsburg, a town in California, which was a key factor in developing those fraternal links of generosity that have guided her professional career.

Her family, which she calls simply “marvelous”, taught her the importance of being friendly, altruistic and considerate with other people. She assimilated many of these qualities through team sports when she was little. “You learn how important it is to trust other people and that they trust you,” says Jamie.

“When I grew up I wanted to work on projects that would help provide opportunities for other people. This is what inspires and guides me.” And that’s the way it’s been to the present. Now in her thirties, she works at Camber Collective as a consultant in  strategic and investment decision-making, programmatic design and implementation planning. The company wants to maximize the investment of its clients, non-profit organizations, in the social area.

The company works with clients on questions of global development, but also in local development, for example in some areas of West Africa. “We use data and analysis to assure ourselves that decisions are made on the basis of evidence,” Jamie explains. “Just as you would help a company increase its earnings, we help our customers increase the number of lives they save.”

Camber Collective seeks the maximum profit for its clients’ projects, just as in the business world. In the end this means extra control and greater detail: in a word, a professionalization of the sector. “We want to get the maximum benefit from the philanthropic dollars that are spent,” she says.

Her first contact with non-profit organizations was while working as a volunteer when studying Psychology at Yale. Her professional career began to be focused toward the social sector. “IE also had an important role in this,” says Jamie, who would then study in its master’s degree program in International relations. “In a way, IE took these core values in which I was educated and mixed them in a new experience.” She emphasizes the importance of being able to work with other people engaged in social projects.

Since then she hasn’t stopped. She was Director of Partnerships at the SeeYourImpact firm, where she raised funds for social projects. Her career progressed with several jobs as a freelance consultant, which allowed her to travel through Europe and Latin America. She’s been at Camber Collective for three years, based in Seattle, where she spends most of her time working with a special client: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But when asked about the projects she is proudest of, names aren’t necessary. She just mentions the project that she promoted to increase the sustenance for small farmers in some African countries, or the family planning work with women in West Africa.

Jamie is also active outside of work. With three friends she has built a network of professional women in Seattle. They share information and offer mutual support. “Women don’t always have the same support in the professional worlds as men do,” she says, adding that there are women who have found work thanks to this platform. She combines this with her leadership role in Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum that brings together young people interested in leading changes in their local communities.

But Jamie’s next challenge is of a professional kind.  She will move to San Francisco to work in her company’s office there and develop the incipient philanthropy of Silicon Valley. “I think there’s a great opportunity. With the great wealth that’s been created in this area, many companies are promoting foundations or building their corporate programs of social responsibility.” These are two kinds of initiatives where Camber Collective is right at home. And Jamie too.