Michael Fox '11 (Political Science) remembers the first time he heard about Root Capital; it was during his senior year at UMass. Having recently added an economics minor, Fox recognized Root Capital as a place where his interest in finance and political ideals could be married.
“Political Science is a field for people who want to make a difference, and the value fades away if you don’t figure out the impact you want to make,” said Fox.
His former employer, Root Capital, is an organization that seeks to alleviate rural poverty by providing access to credit to farmers in Latin America or Africa who wish to grow their sustainable agricultural businesses. According to their website, they seek to fill the gap between microfinance organizations (which offer loans of less than five hundred dollars) and large, central banks that consider rural agricultural businesses too risky.
“Its altruistic yet ambitious goals appealed to me as a new way to pursue international development,” Fox said.
Yet Fox didn’t come to Root Capital immediately--after graduation, Fox spent a year and a half working in Massachusetts politics, largely organizing in Boston. There, he learned about neighborhoods that he previously “only knew by reputation”--demonstrating the value of on the ground political experience. Fox said that while the struggle to find campaign jobs was sometimes difficult, his commitment to making a career in politics carried him through the late hours and challenging jobs.
After organizing in his congressional district for Congressman Joe Kennedy, Fox joined Root Capital--applying multiple times, and being accepted to the position of Executive Office Associate, where he provides “proactive support” to the CEO and founder of Root Capital, Willy Foote. Fox says that working directly for the CEO--managing correspondence, scheduling, travel, and representing the office to the rest of the organization--allowed him to have “both a top-down perspective and constant finger on the pulse of an innovative and impactful organization.”
Fox credits UMass as the place where he gained many of the skills that he has applied to great effect later in life. As a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), he could explore politics in the university setting. He says that the lessons about how people act; relate to one another; and what drives them are useful in a much larger setting. Through his involvement in SGA and other RSO’s, Fox says he also learned one of his first lessons about leadership: you have to show up, and then you have to convince others to show up.
Fox says that he would recommend UMass to anyone thinking about a career in politics.
“UMass is an affordable option that provides a complete range of options. A big school isn’t something to be afraid of--it gives you the opportunity to pursue whatever you desire,” he concluded.
This fall, Fox recently moved to Washington, D.C where he is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
--James Fahey ‘15
- Alumni News