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Kait
Community Manager
Community Manager

 

Pledge 1%'s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.

 

 

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Amanda Lenaghan

Head of Social Impact, Cruise

San Francisco, CA

 

What is your current role? Briefly describe in 1-2 sentences. 

 

In my current role as head of social impact at all-electric, autonomous vehicle company Cruise, I’m responsible for the overarching vision for Cruise for Good, our signature social impact program and building the social impact function at Cruise from the ground up. I love that my work is heavily centered on partnering with leading nonprofits and tapping into how Cruise’s core business can build their capacity to address some of our communities' biggest challenges.

 

What’s the best part of your job? What do you enjoy the most?

 

All aspects of my work are done through relationships and partnership. As such, my favorite part is the people I work with – the nonprofit leaders who inspire me daily (including female CEOs Tanis Crosby, SF-Marin Food Bank & Lenore Estrada, SF New Deal), my amazing colleagues at Cruise, my extended network of peer ESG leaders – we can only do so much alone, but together we are a force for good! I’d have to say, the opportunity of getting to work on how we meaningfully bring an entirely new resource to the nonprofit sector is a very close second.

 

We’ve all faced personal and professional challenges these past two years - what motivates you to keep going?

 

I’m intrinsically motivated to want to do what I can personally to make a positive impact on the world – “to whom much is given, much is expected” has been a personal mantra of mine. My personal and professional lives are intertwined in that way, and my career in social innovation is intentional, so I continue to find motivation despite the challenges we’ve all faced over the last two years. In my case, I had to juggle two young school-aged children with my husband working tirelessly on the front lines in emergency medicine – I am fortunate to work for an amazing leader in Rob Grant, and my company and leadership gave me flexibility when needed. It’s all worth it when I hear my kids explain what I do – “using robot cars to help people” – how cool is that?

 

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? 

 

Walk before you run. As a collegiate runner, maybe it has extra meaning for me, but it’s practical advice to simply take the first step in order to create momentum toward a large goal – and that can be helpful when tackling large societal challenges.

 

What does generosity mean to you?

 

True generosity is giving wholeheartedly – not simply giving from a place of plenty. The most generous people I’ve met invited me into their one-room cane houses, opened their lives, hearts, and kitchen tables to me when I lived and worked in an impoverished neighborhood in Ecuador. To be generous is an act of sharing yourself in addition to your resources (beyond cash, think expertise, social capital, and simply being fully present) with others. 

 

How do you feel businesses can play a larger role in solving today’s biggest challenges? Do you have any specific stories or examples from your work or colleagues you can share? 

 

Companies today have an intentional choice to make to ensure their business has a positive lasting impact on their community and key stakeholders. At Cruise, we saw that the best way to support sustained, meaningful impact was to forge long-term partnerships with trusted local nonprofits, supporting their work and capacity to deliver critical community needs. We believe that innovation can’t simply be for its own sake, which is why we have pledged to dedicate at least 1% of our fleet to serving the needs of our local communities and we’ve turned to our nonprofit partners to guide us. This type of sustained, community-rooted commitment is how emerging tech like Autonomous Vehicles can serve the public good.

 

If you could describe yourself in one word what would that be and why?

 

Resourceful – I have an ability to make things happen when I feel it’s the right thing to do. 

 

What are you looking forward to this year? Are there any goals (personal or professional), activities, or experiences you are excited about?

 

Connecting in person after two years of remote life! I look forward to speaking at the Social Innovation Summit in DC in June, and reconnecting with many friends and colleagues. This is also a big year for Cruise as we begin to commercialize and I’m excited to continue to build social impact in lock step with our business.