Full Name: Sava Berhané
Current title and company: Founder and CEO, The Advancement Lab – an organization dedicated to increasing America’s workforce competitiveness and diversity by providing coordinated access to career resources to help move students from the classroom to career.
Brief description of who you are professionally with concise accomplishments: I am a lawyer by training and an organization-builder by passion. I started my career in corporate work (mergers and acquisitions), but I soon realized that I wanted to solve tougher problems. So, I brought my finance and operations skills to nonprofit work, specifically dedicating myself to empowering women and students. As COO for Building Excellent Schools, I helped advance the work of 110 schools in 26 cities across the country. I helped raise over 10 million dollars to support over 26,000 students from mostly low-income backgrounds. Now, I am launching The Advancement Lab with the intent of creating additional impact – a pipeline for young Americans to advance toward the careers they want and deserve.
Why did you join TWT and what are you hoping to achieve as a member of the organization? I joined TWT because I admire the mission of the founders. We often forget to lift others up as we rise. As a first generation college student, I know that success only happens when you have a network of people to champion you along the way. I believe this deeply, and I hope to be a resource to my fellow TWT members along their journey.
What is one of your most proud professional moments and what are you most looking forward to professionally in the next five years? My proudest moment professionally is when I decided to start my own company. This isn’t easy, as we all know. I spent much of my career supporting the vision of other talented and experienced people, and I am so grateful for their mentorship. However, I knew that there was a need in the public market that I desperately wanted to fill. I am glad I took a leap of faith, despite all the data that shows that investors and donors often resist investing in minority women. Indeed, regardless of the roadblocks that exist for me as an African-American woman (the bias and the stereotypes), I believe in persisting. One moment that stands out to me is when the Boston Chamber of Commerce granted me with the Pinnacle Award for the Emerging Executive category. For my speech, I talked about being a poor child of a hard-working immigrant woman, living in Boston with high hopes for change. The Chamber truly honored me. I felt pride for all the companies who are committed to recruiting, retaining, and advancing a diverse group of women. They know the power of diversity, and the role industry can have in creating change for individuals and societies.
What do you do in your “free” time? Hobbies, Interests… Writing, Boxing, and Supporting Women in Politics
I sit on the board of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus because I believe there are many women prepared to help shape the future of our country. They just need the support and resources.
Writing and boxing – well, in different ways, they bring calm and reflection to the busy of life. I’d be happy to do either activity with any member of TWT.
3 Core values:
- Self-Improvement – While no one likes to fail, I try to be reflective, humble, and take a growth mindset in all circumstances.
- Empowerment – I believe in sharing my resources and creating a platform for others to succeed.
- Curiosity – I am a lifetime learner. It helps to give continuous perspective.
Fun Fact/What makes You, you? Fun Fact: To take it back to high school days, I was an honorable mention McDonalds All-American basketball player.