Join us in welcoming YANA’s Inaugural Executive Director, Rachel Littman ’91!
Read on to learn a bit more about Rachel!
Rachel Littman ’91 has been on the YANA National Board since 2017. She founded and acted as co-chair of the YANA New England chapter for several years before moving down to Houston, TX, and launching a YANA chapter there. In addition to her board service and chapter leadership roles, Rachel serves as Chair of Chapter Chairs and as a member of the YANA Board Executive Committee. Rachel started her career as a Wall Street Corporate finance attorney before turning her attention to higher education and nonprofit governance. She served as the Assistant Dean for Career Services at Pace Law School and the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Moses Brown School, an independent K-12 Quaker school in Providence, RI. Rachel also focuses on matters related to racial and socioeconomic inequities in access to and success in education through the research platform website she created, www.seethegaps.org. Rachel lives in Houston with her husband, two high-school aged children, and rescue lab mix.
Getting to Know Rachel | Q&A with the Executive Director
Q: How did you first become involved with YANA?
I was looking to transition more fully into the social impact sector when I learned about and attended the YANA Social Enterprise Conference in April 2014. When I moved to Providence, RI, I inquired about a local YANA presence. Ken Inadomi invited me to partner with another Yalie in Boston to form a new chapter. And the rest is history.
Q: What inspires you most about YANA?
The dedication of the Board, our active members, and the amazing work so many nonprofits and social entrepreneurs I meet are doing.
Q: What are some of the things you’re looking forward to accomplishing with the organization?
Building out our chapters to engage even more people and organizations in local social impact communities. Increasing our summer fellowship program funding to support even more interns.
Q: What is your greatest non-professional accomplishment?
Marrying my husband, raising our two kids, and adopting our rescue dog, Penelope! Each member of my family has been flexible and resilient during our crazy life. My kids have been to several different schools in three different states – one in Chappaqua (suburbs of NYC), two in NYC, another school in Providence, RI, and now different (and hopefully last!) schools in Houston, TX. My husband and I probably win the award for most homes lived in during our almost 18 years of marriage – 4 different apartments in NYC, two different houses in Chappaqua, two different homes in Providence, RI, and now hopefully settled in to the lovely Museum District in Houston, TX.
Even our rescue dog, Penelope, who was born in Selma, AL and adopted up in Brooklyn through Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, has had to move. We road-tripped through her home state this past summer when we moved down to TX. My husband tries to enjoy his retirement from practicing bankruptcy law at Paul Weiss by gardening and doing crossword puzzles when he’s not splitting kid-schlepping duties.
Q: Where’s your favorite place in the world?
Besides home? Twin Farms Resort in VT! Twin Farms is an amazing all-included 5-star camp-like resort for adults. My husband and I went there for years; our favorite time is during the winter when snow blankets the forest and you can snowshoe through untouched paths with nothing around but the filtered sunlight and hush of branches. And of course there is the abundant gourmet food and wine and lounging by the fireplaces when you get back from outdoor activities. Or warming up in the giant Japanese furo soaking tub that takes up an entire small barn.
FOR GRACE TO SEE ***Rachel’s Note: [It’s very expensive and high-end which I don’t necessarily want to draw attention to. I’d sooner just leave the reference and let people Google it if they want. Those in the know will know exactly what it is.] [the photo I sent before of me snowshoeing is at Twin Farms]
Q: Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?
The poorest person in our country so I could really understand what so many people in our country experience. As someone who grew up with relative privilege and two highly-educated parents, I feel blessed never to have had to worry about education or housing or any other basic needs. Helping people, reading, doing research and trying to fix some of the problems in our country from an academic perspective is the best way I can think of to share my own resources and benefits of my supported life. I have worked hard but I can never really know what it feels like to wake up each day worrying about how I am going to feed my children, or whether I can afford to pay the heating bill or go to the dentist, or how it feels to lose a family member to random gun violence. So rather than be some famous person for a day, I’d rather improve my sense of compassion and empathy by really living what some of the hardest hit members of our country face every day.