Maria Elena Franco

Director of Fellows Programs

Maria joined Mulago in 2016 to help find and fund promising leaders with high-impact scalable solutions. Today she directs Mulago’s Rainer and Henry Arnhold fellowship programs. 

Before becoming a funder, she was a fundraiser for Children International, a big humanitarian organization. Armed only with a laptop and a donor database, she brought in over a million bucks from Silicon Valley. 

Pre-California, Maria bounced around doing humanitarian-response for NGOs in Colombia, Costa Rica, and South Africa. When that work became too sad, Maria moved to Chile to be with her family and work in academia to research what makes lasting change. There she ran field ops and data collection for  randomized control trials at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

She’s born and raised in Hawaii, schooled in political science (BA) and international conflict (MA), and trained for more than 15 years in ballet. These days you can find her up at sunrise on the beach with her giant ridgeback dog.

My Posts

Stellar Digital Convenings

December 2, 2020

What we’ve learned (the hard way) about how to make the most of zoom.

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