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Guest Profile

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Olivia Leland

Founder and CEO


About Olivia Leland

Olivia Leland is Founder and CEO of Co-Impact, a global philanthropic collaborative focused on providing larger, longer term and more flexible support to systems change efforts in education, health and economic opportunity in low- and middle-income countries around the world.


Olivia brings more than twenty years of experience in philanthropy, government, and the non-profit sector. Prior to Co-Impact, she worked with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett as the founding director of the Giving Pledge, an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by encouraging philanthropy globally. She also worked for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, worked in microfinance, and was a strategy consultant with the Monitor Group. 


In addition to her role with Co-Impact, Olivia serves as a senior vice president at The Rockefeller Foundation and sits on the board of the Full Frame Initiative. In 2014, she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.


Olivia received her AB in Social Studies from Harvard University and MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She lives with her husband and three children in London, UK, and holds dual US/French nationality.

Episode Overview

Founder & CEO of Co-Impact, Olivia Leland, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the global collaborative she launched and how it aims to achieve impact at scale in education, health and economic opportunity.


Co-Impact’s core partners include Bill & Melinda Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, Jeff Skoll, the ELMA Foundation and Richard Chandler.


Olivia explains that Co-Impact is a global collaborative focused on systems change to improve the lives of millions by advancing education, improving people’s health, and providing economic opportunity.   It connects philanthropists and social change leaders from around the world who share a vision of driving change at scale. 


Their grants are typically USD $10-25 million over 5 years, accompanied by non-financial support, and are customised to provide programme partners with the operational flexibility needed to achieve impact. 


Rather than scaling the direct service work of individual NGOs, Co-Impact supports systems change plans that are designed and executed with partners critical to long-term success at scale, including community groups, government, other NGOs, and the private sector.

Olivia introduces listeners to Co-Impact’s recently published ‘Handbook’, which seeks to inform funders, program partners and all interested stakeholders on what Co-Impact does, who they are, what they stand for, how they work and, indeed, what to expect when partnering with them. 


Co-Impact is currently working on their second funding round, which is focused on early childhood development; and on jobs, skills and livelihoods. Olivia explains how they recently had an open call for applications, where they received 445 concept notes.  These were reviewed internally and, also, by external examiners.  They’re currently conducting due diligence on a smaller set. 


When asked about what success looks like in the next 10 years, Olivia framed the answer within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Ultimately, Olivia would like to see tremendous progress against the SDGs and see increased philanthropic participation to achieve impact at scale. 


Olivia’s key takeaway: she is unequivocal that ‘the time is now!’ There’s amazing work happening now and we need more philanthropy to be focused on efforts that drive impact at scale -- so let’s come together to do that! 

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Additional Resources

Olivia Leland - LinkedIn


Olivia Leland - Twitter


Co-Impact Website

Co-Impact Handbook

The Rockefeller Foundation


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The ELMA Foundation

Jeff Skoll

Rohini and Nandan Nilekani

Richard Chandler