Kirsten Andersen

About Me

Kirsten is the resident social scientist at Impacto. She has over a decade of experience in research and nonprofit organization management. She brings knowledge of rigorous and relevant research to philanthropy, impact investing and social impact more broadly.

Kirsten and Belissa Rojas will be co-leading the Think Tanks and Impact Investing initiative undertaken with partners On Think Tanks (OTT) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC), expanding research developing the role of think tanks in the impact investing landscape of the global south. This initiative centers the voices of beneficiaries in regions in Africa and Latin America, leveraging evidence-based approaches to grow impact investing while delivering impact.

Prior to her time at Impacto, Kirsten’s research agenda focused on philanthropy and impact investing. Her dissertation research examined foundation impact investors’ assessments of the financial and social impact of their investments. With data from a series of in-depth interviews, Kirsten explored what was enough and/or “the right kind” of social impact. Broadly, Dr. Andersen’s research examines the role of various investor types in impact investing and online identities of grantmaking foundations. She is interested in decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, which applies to impact investing and social impact, as well as informing a study she is currently completing on parental decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her approach to research centers the reality that we often act in the absence of sufficient or ideal information, which–while challenging–creates an opportunity to better understand human behavior and strategize accordingly.

Kirsten worked in alumni relations, fundraising and nonprofit consulting prior to her PhD. Through these experiences she honed engagement and community-building strategies, data-leveraging and storytelling skills, and assisted clients raising funds, executing annual campaigns and creating strategic plans.

Kirsten has a PhD and MA in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also has a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish literature from the University of Pennsylvania. She is fluent in English and proficient in Spanish.

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