After working for 25 years in marketing, strategic planning and public affairs, Laura Henderson knew that she wanted to change direction. Her MBA gave her the latitude to move into the nonprofit sector. Henderson had earned a bachelor of arts with honors in political science at the University of Washington in 1990. She later returned to UW, where she finished an MBA program in 2007. The MBA provided her with a competitive edge in the Seattle job market, but just as importantly, it provided an opportunity for reflection and reassessment.

Pasado’s Safe Haven Executive Director Laura Henderson (photo courtesy of Laura Henderson)

Pasado’s Safe Haven Executive Director Laura Henderson (photo courtesy of Laura Henderson)

“During and after my MBA, I asked myself: What do I want to be doing with my life?” Henderson said. “That reflection lead me to my current position.”

Henderson became the executive director at Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal organization, one month ago.

“I chose this position because I wanted my work to align with my values. I’ve had a disconnect there for years.” Henderson said. “While I was doing a good job in other positions, I didn’t necessarily believe in the cause.”

Prior to her position at Pasado’s, Henderson worked as a marketing consultant. Her primary client was Microsoft. Before that, she worked at Boeing for eight years.

“I’ve been an animal lover all my life. After volunteering at the Humane Society and becoming vegan almost three years ago, my commitment to ending animal suffering deepened.” Henderson said. “I decided that it was time to apply my skills to the cause of ending animal cruelty full time.”

Henderson’s education has provided her with a foundation for success.

“In my role as executive director, I use more of my MBA skills than I did as a marketing consultant. By reassessing my life, I found a position where I’m truly putting my MBA to use, but that’s not what I sought out.” Henderson said. “Sometimes further education leads you to opportunities that you couldn’t have imagined. My education prepared me for that dream job when it became available.”

While an MBA makes job applicants particularly attractive, Henderson cautions that it’s not just a title on paper.

“To just get an MBA and check the box isn’t the best way to do it. Certainly an MBA gives you a leg up, but it’s how you use it. We’re looking at businesses and asking questions.” Henderson said. “How can we partner better with businesses and help our communities? An MBA provides the language and business skills to succeed in a different framework.”

Henderson offers advice for students who are considering a business degree.

“The MBA field is evolving. There are very specific MBAs now, like sustainable MBAs targeted at helping the world.” Henderson said. “These degrees allow people to re-imagine how we as a society can be better. If you’re considering an advanced degree, follow your interests. The world is changing so fast and careers are changing so quickly. Employers are looking for smart people who are creative and innovative.”

Henderson added: “What is it about the world that you’d like to improve? How can you change it? Your education can help answer these questions.”

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on


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