Alyson Ferguson is a do-gooder with a mission—several of them. Not yet 30 years old, she holds positions at two of the region’s most influential philanthropies. The Coatesville Area Youth Philanthropy Program empowers teens by teaching them about the role that nonprofits can play in creating social change. The Scattergood Foundation focuses on mental health and substance abuse. “It’s all about behavioral change, which is hard to do even if you know it’s the right thing,” she says. “We have to be strong advocates for people who can’t be their own advocates.”
Ferguson never shied away from challenges. One of her first jobs was working on smoking cessation at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Policy and Control Program. Being young is another challenge. “I had to find my voice and be confident about what I knew,” she says.
Bosses and mentors have been key to Ferguson’s rise in the philanthropic world. “I’ve worked hard, and they’ve helped me find that next job that presents a bigger opportunity,” she says.