An Overview of This Year’s Graduation Speaker: Conor French ’99
by Eshani Chakrabarti on Friday, June 10th, 2016
Conor French, Milton Academy Class of 1999, corporate attorney turned social entrepreneur, is the graduation speaker for the class of 2016. Conor is the CEO of Indego Africa, an organization dedicated to furthering the education and employment opportunities for artisanal women. The organization works with over one thousand women in Rwanda and Ghana, focussing on lifting women out of poverty and helping them achieve financial independence.
After graduating from Milton, French moved on to receive his bachelor’s degree in English and History from Georgetown University. In the summer following his sophomore year, French studied abroad in East Africa. There, he received his introduction to African culture, which would later shape his career. After leaving Georgetown, he earned his law degree from the New York University School of Law.
French worked in corporate law for four years, where he provided legal and financial advice to Latham & Watkins’ many global connections. From that job, French received another global perspective to understanding the social issues of the world, motivating him to join Indego Africa.
At Indego Africa, French expanded the organization from a simple startup, to an award winning global women’s empowerment organization. He embraced the pivotal switch from corporate law into social entrepreneurship. Though based in Rwanda, the organization hopes to expand to other African countries. The company not only embraces African art but also is a strong advocate for gender equality. The company provides commercial connections to local women, where they can sell their artistry to retailers like J.Crew and Nicole Miller. It also incorporates training in computers, literacy, and financial management, to allow for the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable economic independence. He has been recognized by Diplomatic Courier, as one of the most influential foreign policy leaders under thirty.
Currently, French is a successful speaker and writer on issues regarding economic development, women’s empowerment, and innovative international relations. He provides a distinct perspective on social innovation. French is also the director of the NYU Law Alumni Association, a Truman National Security Fellow and founding member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise.
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