SPOTLIGHT: Elaine Dang, Emerging Leaders Member - United Way Bay Area
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SPOTLIGHT: Elaine Dang, Emerging Leaders Member

December 21, 2017

Elaine Dang is an Associate with McKinsey and Company and volunteers with UWBA’s Emerging Leaders (EL) affinity group in her spare time.

Dang recently participated in an EL Holiday Party where she sponsored a family in need by purchasing gifts. After the event she shared that she had a good experience attending similar events in her youth.

“I was really excited to sponsor a family this year. I grew up in a low-income household and attended similar events where my family and I were given gifts – it feels incredibly meaningful to be able to now pay it forward.”

We are grateful Dang took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions in regards to her philanthropic journey and why she chose to support United Way’s poverty alleviation efforts.


Q: What attracted you to volunteering with our Emerging Leaders affinity group?


A:  I joined Emerging Leaders shortly after starting my role at McKinsey. EL was a great opportunity to connect with my local community and meet other passionate young professionals in the region.


Q: United Way helps make impactful moments for struggling Bay Area residents daily through a variety of community investments. How does your volunteer efforts help make a difference in your community?


A: I see my volunteer efforts as making two types of impact: direct and immediate, for example, purchasing gifts for a family who may not have the means to buy them, which I hope brings more holiday joy to their lives and helps them (and me) feel more connected to one another; and broader impact that will hopefully lead to systemic change through encouraging more people to get involved and by learning more from residents about the issues they face and what types of solutions are needed.


Q: One of our pillars of community support is youth development. Can you briefly share the steps you took to getting your position with McKinsey and Company? Do you have any career advice for Bay Area youth?


I can spend hours giving career advice! If you check out my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that after graduating from college I had five different positions ranging from teacher to running a tech company in Kenya. This is to show that a career does not have to be linear, but I did make strategic decisions at each move.

The best career advice I can give:

  • Think about what gives you energy and what takes away your energy. Consider the activities, environment, and people at work, home, and school that add or subtract to your energy levels. It does not mean you should avoid what uses up your energy. What this does mean is that you should consider finding a career that will give you a lot of opportunity to build energy as you’ll likely be more successful and happier.


  • It’s ok if you need to change your career later! But at each career move or at each year within the same career, you should reflect on what you have learned you are satisfied with and what you are not. And find ways to improve your satisfaction within your career – or change the career itself.


  • If you have a goal in the future (this can be a goal to be in a certain city, to have a certain amount of savings, etc.) then you should think about whether your career will get you toward that path.



Elaine is a San Diegan native and is both a first-generation American and first-generation college student. She grew up in a low-income household and her childhood experiences shaped her world view and passions for social justice and civic engagement. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she had a career in education and social entrepreneurship that gave her the opportunity to live and work in incredible places from the Navajo Nation to Nairobi, Kenya. She recently graduated from the Yale School of Management and is currently an Associate at McKinsey & Company.

Elaine is also actively involved in various activities supporting education for underserved children and survivors of terrorism/mass casualties. In her spare time, she loves hosting get togethers with her friends and family, practicing hot yoga, exploring any and every city, and engaging in philosophical debates.