I’m fascinated with how businesses work, particularly how good businesses work. [After college,] I went to [the investment firm American Capital Strategies] as a research analyst. They brought me on to do the research, to find and create this index and then track the index, but really American Capital Strategies is an investment bank, and so by being there and being eager to learn, I transitioned into investment banking.
I finished my master’s at George Washington University while I was working pretty typical investment banking hours. A professor introduced me to someone at [mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae], and so I thought I’d try that. In my graduate studies, I learned about derivatives, real estate finance, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to delve into that. It was, but I [viewed it as] a transitional job.
My husband is a Foreign Service officer. We met while we were on a study abroad program so we kind of knew that we wanted to go abroad. The family eventually got an opportunity to move to Cairo. At that point, my youngest was about a year and a half and healthy so we were willing to take the risk and move.
I wanted to do something very different than most of the spouses of Foreign Service officers. One of the first things I did was a short-term consultancy for the International Finance Corp. [a World Bank affiliate focusing on the private sector in developing countries.]
They offered me a position as an operations officer, finding and coordinating consultants on the ground in the Middle East and North Africa region. But I said I’d rather be the consultant on the ground than coordinating them so that’s what I did. I picked up the phone and called everybody I knew and told them I was in the market and interested in offering consulting services.
We were in Cairo for two years and Turkey for two years. [Consulting] took me to Mongolia, Malaysia, Zambia, United Arab Emirates, doing a combination of consulting services and financial training. When I came back, I continued that for a little bit and then engaged with a colleague from grad school who was partnering with a few other folks to do a start-up organization, Capital Market Exchange.
I moved to the Calvert Foundation [after three years]. I really liked the business model and then I liked that I would have an opportunity to do both domestic and international work. I was the head of risk management so it really used my technical skills as well.
I love that whole notion that you can do good and do well at the same time. The Global Good Fund gave me an opportunity to be closer to social entrepreneurs, [and] I use all the skills that I’ve developed and continue to grow
— Interview with Kathy Orton
Position: Chief operating and financial officer, Global Good Fund, a nonprofit in Rosslyn, Va., that specializes in leadership development for social entrepreneurs.
Career highlights: Head of risk management, Calvert Foundation; co-founder, Capital Market Exchange; founder, Atherton Financial Solutions; director of credit finance, Fannie Mae; investment banker, American Capital Strategies.
Education: Chartered financial analyst, the CFA Institute; MS, finance, George Washington University ; BA, international studies and economics, American University.
Personal: Lives in Gaithersburg with husband and two daughters.