In her work at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Jaclyn Le has intentionally positioned herself to sit at the intersection of philanthropy, policy, and the private sector. This space, she says, is where she can best do the impact-driven work that led her to seek a graduate degree at the LBJ School.
Jaclyn Le is an alum of the dual degree program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the McCombs School of Business. She currently serves as the Director of Corporate Engagement at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, where she incorporates her knowledge and experience of policy, philanthropy, and the private sector. In her role, Le focuses on how higher education can work more strategically and collaboratively with employers to strengthen the state’s talent pipeline.
“LBJ helped me navigate more seamlessly across sectors and to understand the different incentives and ways people work," said Le, who always had an interest in learning more about the intersection of the three sectors. “It’s interesting to look back now and see this seed that I was interested in, and how the program really helped me do that - and now it’s the focus of my job.”
Le worked in education before attending grad school, and always had an interest in impact-driven work. Working in the education philanthropy space, however, Le began to feel frustrated with the limits of philanthropic funding and sought opportunities to engage the potential of the private sector and make impact in a different way.
“You can’t rely solely on philanthropy to change systems and policy, and that was really frustrating to me,” said Le. “There’s more we could do with private sector where there’s so much capital, and the public sector where you have the systems and policies that affect people at scale.”
After much consideration of different graduate programs to help her best achieve this goal of working at the intersection of the three sectors, Le decided to pursue the dual degree MPAff/MBA degree at UT Austin. Le was awarded the first Kozmetsky Fellowship from the RGK Center, which supports incoming LBJ students with an interest in a career in the nonprofit and philanthropic space.
"The RGK Center was the touchpoint I would go back to when I needed to remind myself why I’m doing this,” said Le.
In her first year at the LBJ School, Le was contacted by a former colleague who was looking for some additional support on a consulting project related to the education work she had been involved in previously. This project led to others, allowing Le to work as a freelance consultant on various projects throughout grad school – a side hustle that eventually led to a career in nonprofit and organizational consulting.
During her time at the LBJ School, Le took a leadership course with RGK Center associate professor Charlee Garden, who was a organizational development and leadership consultant and often took on freelance projects. Le and Garden stayed in touch even after the course when Le was taking classes at McCombs, when Garden reached out to Le for support on a consulting project with several clients, including Google.
“Consulting opportunities as a grad student were a great way to apply the knowledge I was learning through my classes while also developing important skills, such as problem solving, project management, and stakeholder engagement,” said Le.
Eventually, Garden hired Le as a GRA to help develop a new course at the LBJ School that allowed students to learn more about consulting and gain experience working with nonprofit clients on real-world projects. The course, titled Consulting for Social Impact, taught more than just tips and tricks for consulting, Le explained, but also brought in guest speakers from firms like Deloitte and TIP Strategies to provide additional perspectives and provide an opportunity for students to network.
“It's all about the network!” Le said, explaining that the connections she made with alumni through this class not only led to a multi-year internship with Educate Texas but also to a full-time consultant position with TIP after her graduation in 2019.
“I wanted to stay in the field in some way, but I didn’t know how to stay connected, so the RGK Center helped me build a network in Texas,” said Le, who previously worked in Boston and NYC and moved to Texas to attend UT Austin.
As part of the Nonprofit Studies portfolio program, Le took several courses with the RGK Center, including Dr. David Springer’s Leadership as a Catalyst for Community Change.
“Dr. Springer’s class helped me think about leadership in a community context,” said Le. “I was getting the management training on the McCombs side, and you get the policy training here at LBJ, so RGK filled that nonprofit social sector piece for me.”
Le recently returned to the LBJ School to lead a Consulting 101 workshop for incoming CONNECT fellows in the summer and fall cohorts.
“I think that [leading] the CONNECT fellows workshop has been this really great way for me to think about my career, and my work in consulting, and how that can apply to so many different sectors,” said Le. “I’ve loved coming back and working with students, it’s been a great way to pay it forward.”