Maria Fernanda Levis-Peralta, Class of 2006
Catherine B. Reynolds
CEO, Impactivo Consulting
The International Achievement Summit of 2006 changed my life. Each person I met was more talented than the next, and the message was overwhelmingly clear: “Believe in the beauty of your dreams, dare to make them happen and don’t be afraid of failure.” I will never forget one of my personal idols, the Honorable Desmond Tutu, looking straight at us saying “You are no chickens, you are eagles. Fly!” And that is a mantra I have taken with me. Just yesterday, I was sharing that sentiment with a talented young lady who works in my office. She was asking me how she could improve, and à la Academy of Achievement, I urged her to dare to take risks. These lessons have served me well.
After graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School and School of Public Health as a Reynolds Foundation Fellow, my husband and I decided to move back home to Puerto Rico. Our son was six months old and we were committed to giving back to society. After our return, I founded Impactivo, a social impact consulting firm that specializes in the fields of health care, childhood, education and philanthropy. These fields are plagued with market failures, and we’ve found that our approach of incorporating systems research, policy, strategy, and funding methodologies has been particularly successful. To date, we have worked with local health care payers, providers and public officials to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Affordable Care Act for improving our people’s health. Among other initiatives , we helped a community health organization design and procure full financing for the first women’s health center in an impoverished area of southeastern Puerto Rico, and worked with another community to develop a comprehensive plan for the development of integrated and effective early childhood development (ECD) policies and programs, including strategies and financing systems. This year we are happy to announce that we will be working with the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education, to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2014.
Last month, Impactivo became the first BCorp (a certified sustainable enterprise) in Puerto Rico, joining the global movement to re-define business success. We are also working to help others through accreditation. We believe that social needs are just as influential on markets as conventional economic needs and built Impactivo to help communities thrive by placing social impact at the center of our work and using market forces to improve people’s lives. Our company has grown 200 percent at a time when the local economy is facing negative growth, proving that an investment in your community is an investment in yourself.
Thanks to Wayne and Catherine Reynolds for believing in me and for the amazing opportunities you have afforded me. In your honor I will make sure to pass them on.