Staff Spotlight: Móira Cahill

Our Geneva Global team members have different backgrounds, life experiences, interests, and expertise – but we share a dedication to collaboration, innovation, equity, and integrity – all in the name of delivering excellent client service and furthering our goal to change the way we think about philanthropy. To top it off, our team is made up of genuinely nice humans who are a joy to work with – both in the office and over Zoom. We’re excited to share the third installment of our staff spotlight feature: Móira Cahill, Senior Associate.


How did your career journey lead you to Geneva Global?

While studying political science as an undergrad, I was uncertain how to take the variety of social and environmental problems I was passionate about and turn that into a career. (Let alone how to address them beyond the voting booth.) After being trained in grassroots organizing while working on and leading several public interest advocacy campaigns, I was hooked on finding a place within the social impact ecosystem. After additional nonprofit experience and focusing on community development as part of my master’s program in Public Administration and Public Policy, I joined the team here at Geneva Global where I’ve gotten a new view of the philanthropy sector.

What fulfills you most about your role?

Day to day, the opportunity to constantly learn something new is really rewarding. The wide variety of clients and projects gives me the chance to learn about myriad philanthropic causes and see different approaches to philanthropy in action. It’s also motivating to work with so many talented people who share a vision for effecting change and who have the drive to do it better and more equitably.

How has your role at Geneva Global evolved?

I’ve particularly enjoyed the opportunity to become more involved in corporate projects, including as a member of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee. Recently, the Committee has made strides to align our work more intentionally with that of our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Their partnership and guidance offer an important lens through which we’re able to think about, approach, and conduct our CSR activities. Next year, we plan to explore additional ways to expand our activities and responsibilities beyond grantmaking—whether by teaming up with nonprofit partners for volunteer opportunities or further analyzing our environmental impact as a company. Going hand in hand with our role as a certified B Corporation, this work has inspired me to better understand, connect with, and learn from fellow members of our B-Local Philly community.

How has the philanthropy landscape changed over the last few years? What are you most excited about for the future of philanthropy?

Although it’s been happening successfully for decades, it’s exciting to see more support for movement building and organizing. A trend I hope to see going forward is more funders turning to trust-based grantmaking models, to challenge inherent power dynamics in favor of a grantee-grantor relationship marked by trust and partnership. A positive response to COVID-19 came from a group of grantmakers who committed to loosening or eliminating grant restrictions to ease the burdens faced by nonprofits. Looking ahead, I hope to see funders regularly offering general operating support through multi-year grants to help grantee partners better plan their futures.

U.S. philanthropy is receiving its share of recent criticism (from payout rates to institutionalized racism), all happening against the backdrop of a widening wealth gap. As philanthropy leaders reckon with their own power and privilege, I’m hopeful that expert voices inform the real systemic change that must happen, both internally and to create a more just and equitable world.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in philanthropy (or philanthropy consulting)?

I don’t think there’s any one formula for working in philanthropy consulting and really enjoy hearing about others’ (very different!) backgrounds and journeys for that reason—so trust that your perspective brings value. I also think it’s important to know (or find) your specific, related interests and keep an active pulse on what’s happening.

What are you reading right now?

I’m between reads as I wait for some new arrivals, based on recommendations from my colleagues! Off the top of my head: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, The Book of Delights, and Between the World and Me. Otherwise, I’ll admit that I’m most likely catching up on my Sunday paper (Philadelphia Inquirer) until Tuesday or so.

Where do you get your news?

My main daily news source is NPR’s radio programming—with favorites including The Why, 1A, and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me for a weekly dose of informative humor. I enjoy two regular Fortune newsletters, the Broadsheet (on “the world’s most powerful women”) and Ellen McGirt’s raceAhead (on diversity, equity, inclusion, and culture in corporate America). For philanthropy news, I follow the Center for Effective Philanthropy and Vu Le’s Nonprofit AF blogs.

How has your work-from-home journey been? Any tips or tricks?

For the most part, quite well. I’ve found that honoring time for a digital disconnect—no work, computer, or phone—works really well for me, usually in the mornings. I’m enjoying the time with my family, and the new ways in which my neighbors and I have been able to connect and support one another.

For more information about Móira and to meet the rest of our team, please click here.