Caroline Mauldin, a Columbia native, has only lived in Charleston since December but has already made friends with some of the city’s most notable change-makers and prominent 50 Most Progressive alum—education reformer Ted Legasey and painter Raven Roxanne, just to name a few.
Before, Caroline's studies and professional life behaved like impressive dominoes: She graduated from college in 2005 and went right into microfinance, then worked for the U.S. Department of State as a speechwriter, and, while getting her graduate degrees at MIT and Harvard, cofounded Love Grain, a gluten-free social enterprise that utilizes the ancient grain teff.
Caroline says, “Since I was little, I've always carried a certain anxiety around how I can make the greatest impact in the short amount of time each of us has on the Earth."
While working in the Obama Administration, Caroline helped found the Open Government Partnership, an international organization that seeks to make government more open, effective, and accountable. Throughout her career, she's learned the power of what she calls "hybrid" business models, saying, “There’s tremendous opportunity at the intersection of the private sector and social impact." Businesses can reorient to show success not only in monetary terms, but also in the change they promote.
In the midst of her graduate work, Caroline felt a "divine calling" to come home to South Carolina. Says, "Our generation really should pick up the torch where our parents left off."
Now she consults with organizations and start-ups on social impact. Because, she concludes, “That’s where my head and my heart come together. I think the big pivot for me is to now figure out how we use that hybrid thinking—business strategy with pro-social outcomes—in a city like Charleston, in a state like South Carolina, in a region like the Southeast that needs really innovative thinking to apply to the unique political and economic challenges we face."
Words by Elizabeth Bowers
Photo by Mark Stetler