Alumni Profile: Lynsey Farrell '01

Director of Integration
Ashoka
Majors: Anthropology

What are you doing now?
I am currently the Director of Integration for the Africa team at an international non-profit called Ashoka. Ashoka finds and supports leading social entrepreneurs (Ashoka Fellows) and uses the models of these Fellows to understand and amplify patterns of social innovation that others in the social sector can adopt. My specific role is to integrate Ashoka's global programs with the regional priorities of our teams in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Dakar and Lagos. I have also been managing our multi-year partnership with the MasterCard Foundation focused on supporting innovative solutions to the youth employment crisis in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tell us about yourself.
After Linfield, I received a Fulbright Student Fellowship to Kenya and spent a year and a half working with a youth lobbying and advocacy organization in Nairobi. Following that foundational experience, I went on to pursue a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Boston University, with a focus on youth culture, international development, and urbanization. My research focused on youth self-help groups in Kibera, a large informal settlement in Nairobi. Concurrent to doing my fieldwork, I directed American University's study abroad program on Sustainable Development in Kenya for several years before returning to the United States to complete my dissertation. My husband and I live in Alexandria, VA. Our daughter was born late last year.

How did Linfield help prepare you for your career?
The work we do at Ashoka has a lot to do with learning and knowledge. We support social innovations so that others can learn from them, be inspired, and change their approach to be more effective and make a greater change. My early studies in anthropology with Profs. Marrant and Love emphasized that to understand cultural patterns it is important to recognize that data is everywhere. And the best professors and courses at Linfield were those that showed that learning was both in and outside the classroom. I am especially excited about the work I have done to design transformational learnings that have allowed others to acquire skills in empathy and develop deep knowledge. From food foraging in the coastal range to winter snow camping on Steens Mountain to classifying flowers in the gorge for systematic botany, Linfield inspired me to learn experientially and to pass that on to others.