Director of Growth

Team Growth 916 276 5081 alex.cassanova@50can.org @alex_n_cass

Alex was born and raised in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. After only one quick trip to the east coast, she was sold and decided to move to Washington DC to pursue her undergraduate degree at The George Washington University. In 2011 she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in sociology, packed her bags and moved to New York City’s Upper West Side, where she has been ever since.

Alex developed and strengthened her love of working on behalf of kids through roles at ChildCareAware, the Children’s Law Center and Teach For America. As 50CAN’s founding Development Associate, then Development Manager, Foundations Manager and now Director of Growth, Alex has had the opportunity to merge her political wonkiness, love of writing and researching and desire to ensure that all kids have the educational opportunities they deserve into one truly incredible job.

When Alex isn’t drafting a grant proposal or being an honorary member of the operations team, she loves to take crazy classes at the gym, bake delicious treats and re-watch episodes of 30 Rock.

I aspire to be like Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva. Here’s why:

Jessica Jackley co-founded Kiva, the world’s first peer-to-peer micro-lending website. In its first seven years, Kiva connected over a million people and generated nearly $300 million in peer-to-peer loans. If you ever watch a video of Jessica talking about her work you can see the passion for helping others that drives her. It is amazing to see that passion translate into success.

Kiva’s work of focusing on capital investment as a means of empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty helped spark a paradigm shift in the world of philanthropy. Education advocacy fits well within this shift: we are working to give children access great education—the ultimate capital investment.

Why I love my job:

I get to spend my time writing, strategizing and researching – all with the goal of making it possible for our state teams to keep doing amazing work that is driving real change for kids. I love the hustle that each and every person on our team operates with and how we can still find time to laugh with each other. I am constantly inspired by the people I work with and the incredible work they do to ensure that all kids have the educational opportunities they deserve.

My connection to public schools:

From preschool through high school, I attended great public schools with great teachers who prepared me to succeed in college and beyond. When I moved out of my predominantly upper-middle class suburb to the city, I was confronted for the first time with the reality that not everyone in America shares my story.

The fact that the quality of our public schools varies so drastically from one city to another, and even one neighborhood to another, motivates me to do this work.

What I’m bad at:

Paying full price for anything, no matter how much I might need it. I am incredibly frugal person (to a fault, honestly) and will go from store to store and website to website to make sure I am getting the absolute best deal I can get (even on something as mundane as paper towels). I haven’t degenerated to extreme couponing yet, but I do need a pep talk to buy anything that costs more than $20.

The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:

This is a picture of my alumni brick in University Yard at George Washington University. My college experience was incredible and I feel tremendously lucky every time I think about the hard work and sacrifices that got me there. When I look at this brick it brings back a million great memories and so much pride, but it also motivates me to work harder to make sure that all kids have the opportunities that I had.