The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh (WAC), which for 80 years has served as an independent forum for advancing the region’s impact on the international stage and educating those in the region about the importance and relevance of global issues, has appointed Angélica Ocampo as its next President and CEO.
Currently the Executive Director of Worldfund an organization that helps train teachers in Brazil and Mexico, Ms. Ocampo will assume her role with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh on November 16th.
“Not only are we thrilled with Angelica taking the helm at the WAC, but what she brings to Pittsburgh is a critical perspective which is imperative if we are going to be a globally competitive city, attracting and retaining people who build and design the next iteration of our collective transformation,” says Audrey Russo, the Council’s Chair, and President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “Pittsburgh must be a place where global literacy is core in the suite of competencies of our graduating high school students. Angelica’s executive Leadership of Worldfund will add strength to the work of the World Affairs Council.”
Ms. Ocampo, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently lives in New York, says she’s excited about her new role. “Over 80 years there’s a lot the Council has contributed to the community. I’m also very impressed by the success and history of Pittsburgh, how it’s managed in the past 20 or so years to turn around its economy from a very difficult situation into an economy with a lot of future in it. Education, medicine, technology—it’s all attracting young people and entrepreneurs.”
She’s also looking forward to making Pittsburgh her home. “Pittsburgh is an excellent place to live and raise a family. And I have to be very honest, I did not know that before I was contacted by the Council. So the more I read about Pittsburgh the more I was intrigued,” Ocampo says. “And the more I started going there for interviews, the more I liked the city and the people. Obviously, I need to learn much more about Pittsburgh. I’ve been reading a lot, including about the history of Pittsburgh and especially how it correlates with the history of the U.S., specifically during the era of the manufacturing economy. I find it interesting how you could say Pittsburgh is the place where philanthropy was born in the U.S., with Andrew Carnegie and Mellon, and how so much was given back to the community.”
Ms. Ocampo believes education is a key role of the Council. “I think the Council and the city both face new challenges as we move towards the future. The work that the Council does in education, both for students and teachers, is remarkable. And I come from that arena, working in a nonprofit that does teacher training in Latin America. So I’m a very big believer in education and teacher training in particular.”
She acknowledges, though, that education is among the biggest challenges. “I think the Council and the city both face new challenges as we move towards the future. How do we adapt education that is given today in schools for young generations that face a workforce completely different than what it was when the schools were designed. You have to really make sure that we give them a fighting chance,” she says. “Pittsburgh is renowned for great universities, robotics centers, the highest quality in higher education. How do high schools prepare kids to then go to those centers of higher education. I think that’s somewhere the Council can play a big role.”
Education has clearly played a vital role in Ms. Ocampo’s personal history. Having received scholarships from the Fulbright Foundation and the University of California, she earned a B.A. in Political Science from Universidad Católica Argentina and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Columbia University. She also has an attained high levels in the private sector, including as Head of Public Affairs at HSBC Argentina.
At this point, Ms. Ocampo is being cautious about expressing specific goals she has for the Council or changes she wants to implement. “I’ll be cautious and take my time and learn and get to know the city more. I have certain ideas in mind, and I think that’s part of why the Council’s board hired me, but it will take me a couple of months before I am able to really share what the next steps of the strategy will be,” she says. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the area but I want to have more in-depth knowledge before I commit to specifics.”
On a personal level, though, Ms. Ocampo is eager to share specifics of who she is and what she’s looking forward to when making Pittsburgh her home with her 15-year-old daughter. “Several things define me. First and foremost, I’m a mother. That’s the best job ever. I love the outdoors, running, biking and kayaking, so that’s another thing that attracted me to Pittsburgh.” Proud of her roots, Ms. Ocampo also sees the advantage of bringing a Latin American perspective to her position. “I’m a Latina, and I love that part. I love having been raised in Argentina but also Colombia and working throughout the region, including Mexico, so I’m looking forward to bringing guests from many countries to see what Pittsburgh has to offer.”