Alumni Spotlight

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, MA ’98

‘God balances the greatest challenges we face with the most extraordinary blessings, if we are willing to find them.’

One of my life’s most powerful lessons is that God balances the greatest challenges we face with the most extraordinary blessings, if we are willing to find them. After my angel mother, Frances Arrillaga, MA ’65, was diagnosed with cancer just three months after I was accepted to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, I began a 20-month journey as her primary caregiver. In caring for her, I experienced the incomparable beauty of living in complete selflessness, and I realized that moving forward, I could live no other way. Just prior to her passing, I made a commitment to dedicate my life to service and education, just as she had.

Every organization I have founded, including the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and, uses the power of teaching and learning to educate, empower and inspire others to give in a way that matters and generates lasting social change. 

My time at the Graduate School of Education affirmed my passion for teaching and dedication to inspiring future social change leaders. Since 2000, I have been blessed and privileged to teach at Stanford as a lecturer in education, public policy, business strategy and philanthropy. I have always sought to create the type of meaningful, empowering academic lessons for students that I wish I could have taken to prepare me for a career as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist. 

To democratize access to philanthropy education, I created and taught the first live Stanford MOOC on philanthropy, which has reached more than 75,000 individuals globally. In addition to my Stanford fall quarter course, Education 377C, Philanthropy: Strategy, Innovation and Social Change, in spring 2018 I will teach Power of You: Women and Leadership, a highly personalized course that approaches leadership through a gender lens. Power of You will inspire students to fortify their purpose; increase their awareness through personal exploration and confidence through practical skill building; and begin a leadership journey based not in the advancement of oneself, but rather the advancement of others.  

I am deeply grateful to the GSE for providing the foundation to develop my practice and live my life calling to empower others through education. 

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen earned her MBA from the GSB in 1997, a master's degree from the GSE in Administration and Policy Analysis in 1998 and an MA in art in 1999.