Growing Purpose: Getting to Know the New Leaders Joining the Purpose Team

October 29, 2020

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After more than a decade in the social impact space and proudly growing our team to eight countries, Purpose is excited to announce two new leaders joining the Purpose ranks. Kate Swann joins Purpose from Blue State as COO, and Celeste Thompson, formerly of EILEEN FISHER, joins as Senior Director of Human Resources & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“The additions of Kate and Celeste to Purpose’s leadership team launch us into an exciting new era,” said CEO Jeremy Heimans. “Their leadership will allow us to grow Purpose’s impact, double down on our equity approach, and scale Purpose’s footprint in a meaningful way.”

These two hires signal a leap forward in Purpose expanding our philanthropy offering and solidifying a burgeoning corporate practice. This renewed focus on what is next for brand purpose follows the appetite in the space from consumers for the brands they support to meaningfully engage with issues that matter, and gives Purpose a significant opportunity for impact with mass mobilization and moving the needle on critical issues.

Kate Swann comes to Purpose from Blue State, where she served as COO and was instrumental in the positioning of the business. Kate was previously COO at frog design, where she managed the global business and helped grow both the agency’s team and revenue significantly during her tenure. She also has extensive leadership experience with start-ups like Avalanche (acquired by Razorfish) and Organic. Kate’s specialty is managing for growth in creative and people-centered businesses. She also serves on the board of several non-profits.

Celeste Thompson comes to Purpose with experience as Human Resources Executive at EILEEN FISHER, where the company grew by 3X in over 10 years, and was also a part of the team that built Google’s New York office in 2003. With over 20 years in the field, Celeste was also the Founder/Chief People Officer of TRIBE, a Human Resources consulting and coaching organization that she built to help businesses not only implement best practices and policies but, also to teach and share how to nurture good talent and create a culture of kindness, inclusivity and respect.

Learn more about the new members of Purpose’s Leadership team in the Q&A below!



Kate Swann, Chief Operating Officer

What made you excited about joining Purpose?

Purpose is the gold-standard for agencies in the social impact space. Jeremy and the other outstanding leaders, the reputation of the company, and the incredible caliber of the work made this an easy decision for me. 

What’s the issue area you’re most passionate about?

Income inequality is probably my top issue. I have come to understand the impact and the limitations to change that it imposes through my work with nonprofits such as Graham Windham. 

What’s your vision for Purpose and what are the first steps to getting there?

To become the global choice for organizations and activists who want to make real change in the world. The first steps to getting there are 1. building a roadmap for sustainable growth and 2. streamlining processes to create transparency and simplicity. 

What do you hope Purpose becomes known for?

The impact our work makes in the world with our partners.

 

Celeste Thompson, Senior Director of Human Resources & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

What made you excited about joining Purpose?

Having worked for a B Corp, EILEEN FISHER,  for so many years and also being an altruistic soul, it was really important to go back in house to think about a company that would not just be a great fit for my technical abilities, but also with regards to feeding my soul. I do my best work when I am working toward the greater good. Working with people who are also working toward the greater good or have a deep sense of altruism just inspires me. It almost doesn’t feel like work as much when you’re working toward something like that.

What’s the issue area you’re most passionate about?
I’m really focused around young women of color and leadership and have done a lot of mentorship and board participation. That is a passion area for me. Another area is health disparities in the African American community. I’m on the board of a breast cancer organization that focuses on ovarian, breast, metastatic cancer and we have a really strong network of women who we support globally. I work closely with the African American community outreach group really trying to help with recruitment and branding to support that community.

What’s your vision for Purpose and what are the first steps to getting there?

One of the first orders of business is organizational values – really looking at those from the brand perspective and trying to understand how we can first name the values and then actualize them in the culture through the people and through how we show up in the world. Values really speak to the “how” of what we do and it’s really about creating a collective “how” for how everyone really shows up around cultures and values at Purpose. 

Another important piece is operational excellence, so looking at the people, the processes, the systems, and the tools around the “how” of our work. In order to really scale a business you need to have a pretty strong foundation in place or else it just becomes organized chaos, so really helping to create an infrastructure that supports the growth that we’re seeking. I’d also like to really create a culture of growth and development that ties back to the strategic objectives of the organization. 

What do you hope Purpose becomes known for?

A great place to work. For the people who work here, a place where people can do their best work. And for the clients that we serve, a brand that really walks the walk that is diverse and mighty.

What else is important for people to know about you?

I’m a builder. I’ve done a lot of building in my career and I love growing brands and really being able to add my knowledge, skills, and abilities to scaling organizations. That’s kind of my sweet spot and where I do my best work, so I’m just excited.