Join us in welcoming YANA’s Inaugural Executive Director, Rachel Littman ’91!

Read on to learn a bit more about Rachel…


About Rachel

Rachel Littman ’91 was elected to the YANA Global Board in 2017. She has served as Chair of Chapter Chairs and as a member of the YANA Board Executive Committee over the past two years. Rachel previously founded and co-chaired the YANA New England chapter for several years before moving down to Houston, TX, and launching a YANA chapter there.

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 related to access and success in education through SeeTheGaps, the research platform she created. Rachel lives in Houston with her husband, two high-school aged children, and rescue lab mix.

Q&A with Rachel

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 — and 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 and all of our active members plus volunteers is incredibly inspiring. I have also loved getting to meet and learn about the amazing work of so many nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs in the YANA community.

Q: What are some of the things you’re looking forward to accomplishing with the organization?

I am excited to accomplish a lot of great work in my role as Executive Director. Two of my top priorities include: strengthening and expanding our chapters to engage even more people and organizations in the social impact community; and building our YANA-Dwight Hall Fellowship Program to support even more Yale students.

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 various moves from NYC to Providence, RI, to 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 a lot. We road-tripped through her home state this past summer when we moved down to TX. Visiting Birmingham and Montgomery were major lifetime goals for me!

Q: Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

Someone in our country who feels very marginalized and has very limited resources. As someone who grew up with relative privilege and two highly educated parents, I feel blessed never to have had to worry about the cost or pathway for 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 and through nonprofit Board work are the best ways I can think of to share my own resources and benefits. 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, 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.

Q: Where’s your favorite place in the world?

Besides home? Anywhere with enough snow to cross-country ski — and with good food plus a nice, roaring fireplace at the end of the day! I’m also very happy in a gym or biking outside.