Marisa Renee Lee, 32
Managing Director, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
Marisa Renee Lee is helping to lead a cause that has the backing of one of the world’s strongest brands: President Obama.
As managing director of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Ms. Lee helped create a free-standing nonprofit based on White House efforts to improve the lives of minority boys and young men — a cause Mr. Obama has said he’ll focus on when he leaves office.
Ms. Lee says she was a nonprofit "rabble-rouser" even before she had a driver’s license. At 15, she helped persuade the Gap Foundation to support a mentoring program for students entering high school in her hometown of Wappingers Falls, N.Y. While attending Harvard, as her mother was struggling with late-stage breast cancer, she co-founded the Pink Agenda, a cancer-care nonprofit that raised nearly $1 million before it was acquired by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
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Ms. Lee worked at a Wall Street bank before she landed a job in the White House, where she held advisory posts on small-business and urban development and managed public-private partnerships. A big part of her current job is courting the support of corporate America. But for Ms. Lee, securing donations plays to her strengths.
"I’m good at getting people excited about things and I’m shameless when it comes to asking for money," she says. "If it’s something I believe in, I will hit you up repeatedly."
Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Ms. Lee had worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.