Women Worth Watching 2015
Nancy Santiago Negrón
The OFN’s Chief External Affairs Officer Builds Partnerships that Change Lives
Nancy Santiago Negrón currently serves as the Opportunity Finance Network’s chief of external affairs, where she manages OFN’s public-facing work, building relationships that create new opportunities and strategic partnerships for the organization, its members, and the entire opportunity finance industry.
Nancy brings many years of experience advocating for policies that transform lives in underserved communities, including experience as a senior-level official in the Obama Administration—as chief of staff for the Department of Education’s Strategic Partnerships team in the Office of the Secretary and as acting deputy director at the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor.
“The right decisions are never the easiest to make, but they are the most rewarding…”
“Taking that job was my biggest career leap,” said Nancy. “The right decisions are never the easiest to make, but they are the most rewarding in the end. I had to leave my family, my friends, and my “safe” career path to make a big difference. I don’t regret it.”
While with the Obama Administration, she developed partnerships with local communities and businesses in high-poverty areas to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, and leverage private investment. Through her work on national initiatives like Promise Zones, Performance Partnership Pilots and, “My Brother’s Keeper,” she partnered with local leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.
She also served as director of policy and planning at the Philadelphia Youth Network, performed legislative work at PECO/Exelon, and held leadership roles with the School District of Philadelphia.
Nancy’s professional life has been focused on finding ways to move children and families of minimal financial means out of poverty, increasing their access to power, and expanding their opportunities for social mobility—while supporting and inspiring staff and team members to reach their full potential. She is a dynamic, action-oriented leader who embraces ambitious goals and inspires others to do the same. Nancy holds a Master of Education degree, as well as an undergraduate degree, from Temple University.
Education: BA Communications / Political Science (dual) and MEd Counseling Psychology, both earned at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
First job: working in a bicycle shop even though I do not know how to ride a bike (small details like that never stop me).
What I’m Reading: “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton and “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Ask questions. Do not be afraid of what others think. Just keep asking until you get answers.
Words I live by:
- Integrity above all else. Never compromise who you are for money, position, titles – not even other people.
- What other people think of me is none of my business.
- “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” – MLK Jr. My translation: People can only walk all over you if you let them.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I would take more risks.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…close the door, take off my shoes, turn on music and dance around barefoot until my creative juices start flowing.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…taking a job with a Presidential Administration in Washington, DC. The right decisions are never the easiest to make, but they are the most rewarding in the end. I had to leave my family, my friends, and my “safe” career path to make a big difference. I don’t regret it.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…a blessing. I was always being underestimated. I loved proving naysayers wrong.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…that failure is fertile ground for your next great idea.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…laughing, hugging (I’m a hugger), dancing and cooking my own meals.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I couldn’t stop thinking about what that “one thing” that could create transformational change in a community. That one thing continued to be providing access to capital for communities rich in ideas but with limited access to resources.