Kelsea comes to MAF with a passion for breaking down barriers to mainstream financial services.
No stranger to new places, Kelsea McDonough has lived all over the world: from Santiago, Chile, and Granada, Spain, to San Francisco and Oakland, which she’s now proud to call home. But she originally hailed from Boston, where she graduated from Tufts University with degrees in Spanish and Psychology.
During her formative years in Boston,
Kelsea volunteered at an immigrant advocacy nonprofit and worked at a rape crisis center. She then had the opportunity to spend a year in Granada, Spain, teaching English to preschoolers. Upon her return, she made her way to the Bay Area. She worked for several years in fund development at Prospera (formerly WAGES: Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security), an Oakland nonprofit that empowers low-income Latinas to build workerowned cooperatives. During that time, Kelsea also volunteered as a domestic violence counselor at WOMAN Inc. in San Francisco.
She first learned about MAF in 2013.
A colleague came to Kelsea raving about her great experience building credit through Lending Circles, and Kelsea was immediately inspired to join a Lending Circle with a group of co-workers. She still remembers the day they formed their circle, which they named “Celery Sticks with Buffalo Sauce” — the snack they were enjoying at the time.
Kelsea strongly believes that we must break down barriers to the financial mainstream for low-income communities in the U.S., and she’s admired MAF’s innovative Lending Circles strategy for many years. From the moment she walked into MAF’s colorful, high-energy office, she was impressed by how the team lives its values on a daily basis.
“Now that I’m here, every day I’m inspired by the whole team’s drive to push the envelope on creating meaningful financial products for low-income consumers.”
What does Kelsea find so inspiring about MAF? “Everything!” she says, “but I’m especially fascinated by how MAF uplifts informal community practices of lending and borrowing money and formalizes them so people can enter the financial mainstream.” Having seen a similar strengths-based approach in action at Prospera, she believes that this is the most effective way to achieve social change. Kelsea also admires MAF’s ability to seamlessly navigate so many fields, from community development and asset building to financial inclusion and FinTech.
Today, Kelsea manages the growth of MAF’s individual donor program and supports our overall marketing and development efforts. With the growing cultural consciousness about the need for more economic mobility — especially in the Bay Area where income inequality is skyrocketing — the time is ripe to mobilize support for MAF’s programs. Philanthropy brings people together to create a world where everyone can thrive.
Kelsea is excited to help MAF realize its bold plan to scale Lending Circles across the country.
In her free time, Kelsea enjoys exploring the Bay Area by bike, practicing kundalini yoga, and taking leisurely strolls around Lake Merritt. She has an unabashed love of cheesy pop music and makes playlists (both cheesy and non-cheesy) for any and all occasions.