Kate Cochran Named CEO of Upaya Social Ventures

Upaya is pleased to announce today that longtime Board member Kate Cochran will join the full-time staff as the organization’s first Chief Executive Officer. Cochran brings over 20 years of experience in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to the role.  


”I passionately believe that everyone deserves the chance to earn a living and create a life of dignity and self-reliance. Upaya has shown that we can partner with entrepreneurs who share this passion and sustainably create jobs for some of the poorest people in the world. After being an enthusiastic cheerleader for the organization since its founding, I’m thrilled to be working with Upaya Social Ventures full-time.” Cochran said.

Upaya Co-founder and current Executive Director Sachi Shenoy will remain with the organization as Chief Innovation Officer, and will work closely with Cochran to expand the organization’s reach. Adding Cochran to the leadership team will also enable her to spend more time working on social performance metrics for Upaya, as well as industry-wide initiatives.

“With ten partners and over 2,300 jobs already created, the organization has great momentum behind it and I am looking forward to seeing where we can take it together,” said Cochran.

“This is a wonderful new chapter for Upaya! Kate has been with Upaya from the very beginning, and few people understand and appreciate our work as deeply as she does,” said Shenoy. “I am really looking forward to working alongside Kate and am confident that her leadership will take Upaya to the next level.”

For the past several years, Cochran has held leadership positions in international development organizations providing financial services and access to higher education to millions of the world’s poorest citizens. She served as Chief Operating Officer for Vittana Foundation, directing strategy for stimulating student loan markets in developing countries and later served as a consultant and board member disseminating their findings. Prior to Vittana, she held a range of executive roles at Unitus, a microfinance accelerator.

“Throughout the CEO search process, Kate’s deep understanding of the sector and the challenges Upaya faces shone through,” said Upaya’s Board Chair Bulbul Gupta. “Her combination of work in both the philanthropy and impact investing sectors where Upaya has helped prove a market role in India will be invaluable in helping scale the organization.” 

In addition to work in international development, Cochran has consulted independently with a range of nonprofit organizations and social businesses. She is a frequent speaker on social entrepreneurship and the intersection of markets and mission at business schools and conferences. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.