Cali Livingstone

Current Employer: LUCI

What TFC Programming did you participate in? 
The list is long… during my first year I participated in the following:
-1Y Immersion Treks Board Member, leading the Gentrification in Nashville Trek, the Civil Rights History and Economic Development Trek in Marion, Alabama, and From Coal to Green Trek in Grundy County, TN.
– Hult regional competitor
– TFC Summit – Learning from Failure
– Project Pyramid – Ethiopia for ABLE
– Skoll World Forum at Oxford UniversityMy second year of Owen I was the TFC Board Chair – so needless to say, it was my whole life… I supported our the board leadership in revamping our social media and website, delivering Hult and Summit, developing a fundraising strategy (that Ryan launched and I’m thrilled to see you are carrying on!), and I led a reorg for the TFC board structure with the goal of flattening out the structure and making it more action-oriented. I also led the transition between boards during COVID and identified TFC partners willing to take on summer interns in TFC’s effort to connect students who had lost their internship opportunities due to COVID. AND I painted the mural in the coffee shop!

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the TFC?
I would recommend TFC to any graduate student that comes to Vanderbilt because TFC helped me to engage with that very elusive and difficult question of what my purpose is in life. It is so effective in this because of its interdisciplinary approach. As I wrestled with ideas and opportunities for the various direction I might take my life, I felt as though, as a business student, if I could identify a solution that then resonated with education, engineering, law, and medical graduates, that then I really might have been onto something! TFC stretched my patterns of thinking. And while TFC has a strong international lens, it also exposed me to parts of the American South – an area of the world I knew very little about before moving to Nashville – that you really can’t access on campus.

How did the TFC help prepare you for your current position?
I think a lot of programs in graduate schools promote developing leaders but my experience is that these programs can only deliver in a theoretical sense.  TFC let me lead. It let me “get on the balcony” and steer the ship. It let me feel the strength, opportunity, confusion, frustration, loneliness, growth, and ownership that comes with being a leader. Through managing others’ expectations, varied perspectives, and personal development, TFC let me see just how hard it can be to lift up your head to define a strategy and try to implement it. At the end of the academic year, my team and I reflected on our missed goals and on our (longer list) of real accomplishments and it felt amazing to know that those belonged to us!

I now work for a small health tech start-up bringing to market a smart wheelchair device that has already been recognized by Popular Science and Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2020. As a small start-up I am still in a role where I am defining our distribution strategy, implementing it, realizing how much we still need to learn and constantly grappling with questions about what is best and accepting what is good enough for the moment. TFC gave me the experience to feel comfortable in these moments. And I am very grateful for my 2019-2020 board, and to Mario, Kathleen, and Megan for providing a reliable backbone in all our work.

Connect with her via LinkedIn here.

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