Listening to Betsy Steiner Fraser explain what she does is like having a front row seat in the lecture hall of a popular Ivy League professor.
This is not too surprising as Steiner Fraser’s academic background includes a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate business degree from the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State.
Calm and self-assured, Steiner Fraser describes her current work as an independent business consultant (Betsy Steiner Fraser Consulting) and as the newly appointed director for the Invest in Incredible Initiative of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, by casually rattling off phrases like “capacity building initiative”, “optimize fiduciary and legal practices”, “leverage organizational talent” and “collaborative loan funds.” And then, like all excellent teachers, she begins to share her personal stories that show the impact of these business practices on communities and on individual lives.
Soon after graduating from Penn, Steiner Fraser began working for Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, which in turn led to a job in Washington D.C. with the National Women’s Business Council, which advises Congress and the president on policy issues important to women in business.
This position presented Steiner Fraser with the opportunity to travel with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and First Lady Hillary Clinton to Beijing for the 1995 World Conference on Women, hosted by the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women.
“It was at this conference that I was exposed to international relations and diplomacy negotiation, which I’ve used throughout my career,” Steiner Fraser said.
“I met so many amazing people through Marjorie’s work in Congress. Marjorie is one of my heroes and she changed my life.”
Steiner Fraser used these experiences as catalysts to change the lives of others. In 2011, she visited Tanzania, advocating for girls’ education. She visited with different groups in Africa, including the Maasai warrior tribe, to encourage the women to send their daughters to school. She also helped establish collaborative loan funds to support women’s micro-enterprises, saying: “We set up micro-fund loans so that women could borrow $15 to buy a goat or something of the sort and start a business.”
From that opportunity, came Steiner Fraser’s work back in the United States consulting for Girls Going Places, a project of Guardian Life Insurance, which brings 100 high school girls and 25 business women together on a college campus for one day. In more than 35 cities for the last 20 years, the girls received information about business in almost every field, from a concrete plant to a medical supply company. This year the 20th anniversary conference was held May 3 at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
Closer to home, Steiner Fraser has recently consulted for the city of Venice, orienting new advisory board members to optimize their impact on the city and communicating best practices to them.
As a consultant with a public policy background, Steiner Fraser works with a lot of non-profit organizations to help them maximize the social good they can do. “I really enjoy helping organizations grow their impact on the community because everyone wins,” she says.