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Meedan is pleased to welcome Cat Ho on board as our first Director of Business Development and Operations! Cat joins us after consulting with Meedan on business planning. The team appreciated her insights, rigor and conviviality during her time as a consultant, and we’re thrilled to welcome her in a full-time role.

As Meedan grows and develops as an organization, we have recognized the increasing need for business development and business operations as a key function for our continued sustainability in addition to grants, program service fees and other sources of revenue.

We’ll be hearing more about Meedan’s business efforts in the near future. For now, learn more about Cat below:

1. What brought you to Meedan?

2019 was my first year an independent business consultant, and I met a ton of people along the way. One day, I ran into my friend Aviv Ovadya at a coworking space in San Francisco. Aviv insisted that I meet Meedan because he thought the international mindset and global impact at the organization would be compelling for me – and he was right. (Thank you, Aviv!)

In addition, something about the people at Meedan – Tom, Ed, An – left a positive impression on me, and I decided intuitively that I should try to stay in touch. Several months later, I got to consult with the team on business planning, and this year, there was an opportunity for me to join full time.

Specifically, I’m excited about figuring out how our Check product and technology gets further market adoption in a way that’s in line with Meedan’s mission and values. It’s going to require a lot of creativity and cross-functional collaboration. Recently, our participation in the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has led me to conduct dozens of research interviews to better understand our current and potential users, customers, and partners. I’m mostly accustomed to doing secondary market business analysis, so this primary research approach has been really fascinating, and I intend to continue incorporating it into the work I’m going to do to steer our ship through new waters.

2. What has been your experience before you joined Meedan?

My business career has been driven largely by my love for languages and cultures, which has taken me to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and the US. My functions and industries have varied, but I really like people and processes: I’ve been a salesperson, a procurement consultant, a sales strategist, an operations manager, a freelance business strategy consultant, and an MBA admissions consultant. I’ve worked in the investment banking industry at Lehman Brothers, management consulting at Kearney, and in big tech at Facebook.

In terms of formal education, I have an MBA from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), an MA in International Studies from The Lauder Institute at UPenn, and a dual BS/BA in Business Administration/Linguistics from University of California, Berkeley.

One notable shift is that Meedan is my first time joining a nonprofit since I did a college internship at The Long Now Foundation as a linguist, and I’m thrilled to be part of a team that thinks deeply about its impact on the world.

3. Tell us about an exciting and insightful experience that has shaped your perspective and work.

During my MBA, I did a summer internship in Bogotá, Colombia that really tested my high school and college Spanish language skills. I had so much fun being properly immersed in Spanish for the first time that I decided to pivot from my original plan to move to mainland China after graduation, and I moved to Latin America instead.

In my concurrent masters program in international studies, I was focused on East Asia and Chinese language. It ended up being fairly straightforward to walk away from my plan to move to China, because I realized that when I was in China, I would struggle to meet cultural expectations at work because I looked local, spoke like a local, but wasn’t really a local.

Eight years later, including three and a half years in Mexico and 11 visits to Brazil, I now like to say that I identify as Taiwanese American with a Latin soul. I think my own multicultural identity helps me see that people I work with can show up with very different cultural perspectives. As a people-loving person that actually enjoys work meetings a lot of the time, I like to think that my international experiences have given me additional tools for empathy that I can use to connect with and work better with people from all kinds of backgrounds.

4. What opportunities do you see for business development across the range of disciplines that Meedan works in, such as technology, journalism and human rights work?

For me, business development is about growth through relationship building, whether that’s a sales relationship or a strategic partnership. I think Meedan already thoughtfully bridges organizations across these realms through large projects like Check Global and the 3PFC program on WhatsApp, but there’s room to do even more and cultivate our network of relationships so that we are poised to bring people together for exciting, cross-industry projects…but we won’t get there if we don’t first build trust with everyone that could be involved. So that brings me back to relationship building and finding exciting ways to collaborate, and I see a ton of opportunity to do so in every realm - technology, journalism, and human rights.

5. Tell us some fun facts about Cat.

  • I have always hated pickles, but I’m trying to change this because I want to learn to enjoy all foods. I got over my distaste for mushrooms a few years ago, so I’m feeling optimistic.
  • Years ago while visiting the Canary Islands, I swing danced all over the island of Tenerife with my friend Oliver, and we made a promotional swing dance video for the local dance scene.
  • These days I’m an aerialist and aspiring circus performer, with a focus on aerial silks, aerial hoop, and juggling!

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