Mara Zepeda is the co-founder and CEO of Switchboard, which provides training and technology to colleges, universities, and independent schools around the world to increase their community members' mobility. She speaks about and leads workshops on education, trust, social networks, and the future of business internationally. Mara has spent her career at the intersection of community building, economic empowerment, and education, directing programs at Harvard University; as a reporter with National Public Radio; and as an alumni board member of her alma mater, Reed College. She is the founding board president of Business for a Better Portland, the city's newest and fastest growing business organization, and XXCelerate, an entrepreneurship program and loan fund for women entrepreneurs in Oregon to address the inequity in access to financing. She is also a co-founder of Zebra movement, a conference and community that aims to create a more ethical and inclusive startup culture.
She is a member of Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler's Council of Economic Advisors. She was named “40 Under 40” by Portland Business Journal; one of the city's top 25 Women of Influence in 2018; and recognized by Conscious Company magazine as one of "30 World Changing Women in Conscious Business." Switchboard was named one of "The 20 Hottest Start Ups Founded by Women” by Business Insider.
Mara graduated with honors from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism with a focus on digital media, business, and network theory. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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