Teresa Mastrangelo ’84: At the Intersection of Business and a Better Life

American journalist Dorothy Thompson once noted, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict …”

For more than twenty-five years, Teresa Mastrangelo ’84 has worked to develop and implement “creative alternatives” for promoting economic security, peace, and justice. Currently president and Washington, DC, area manager for Cardno Emerging Markets USA, she has spent decades crossing the globe to facilitate projects in nearly thirty countries.

After graduation, Teresa went to work in Washington at the Commerce Department, earned an MBA in finance from George Washington University, and began employing business approaches to bringing marginalized individuals into the private sector, effectively promoting stabilization and economic security in populations disadvantaged by health status or gender, corruption or dominance of the state in the economy, or war and civil conflict.

“What’s been exciting,” Teresa says, “is even though I’ve been at the same place for twenty-five years, my job has changed so much. It’s like a new job every couple of years.” From working to privatize government-held financial institutions and businesses in Africa, Asia, and Russia to renewed attention on global food security, community health, and the effects of climate change on developing nations, her job continues to be dynamic.

Teresa finds it “serendipitous” that her MHC double major in history and politics is relevant to her work today. Consider one of the projects she currently oversees: Stabilization, Peace and Reconciliation In Northern Uganda (SPRING) focuses on promoting societal and economic security in communities terrorized by Joseph Kony and The Lord’s Resistance Army. At the height of conflict, upwards of 60,000 children became “night commuters,” leaving their villages at dusk and walking into towns to seek protection from abduction by sleeping in churches or community halls. When these “invisible children”
came home, it was to untilled farmland and adults returning from resettlement camps.

SPRING works with villagers to clear land, grow high-value chili crops, and negotiate fair prices with buyers. “This project has a strong peace and reconciliation aspect,” Teresa says. “Farmer/producer groups bring people from different communities together. As they trade, they must work through some reconciliation. Building warehouses together creates community infrastructure. When a family has a livelihood, children can go to school. We know that this program is already positively impacting 22,000 children.”—J.S.