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All For the Common Good sign displayed at Opus College of Business in downtown Minneapolis

Doing Work That Matters

Kelsey Vatasaas ’11 MBA, vividly remembers taking a long hard look at her career in finance. At the time she was working in Kansas City, but something in her life was missing: “I really wanted to do something more meaningful to help others."

Inspired to make a career change, Vatasaas googled MBA programs with a non-profit emphasis. St. Thomas was the first school that popped up in her Google search. Coming from a Catholic background, the school's mission really spoke to her.

At St. Thomas, the purpose of business is to advance the common good through thinking critically, acting wisely and working skillfully. It reflects a commitment to make things better and embrace others with empathy and respect. 

The focus on business ethics drew her in immediately. “St. Thomas has a strong holistic view of what ‘good business’ means,” she said. “Advancing the common good is more than just a conversation in class. It’s integrated into everything we do and who we are; how we understand and engage with the world.”

A career coach at St. Thomas connected her with a non-profit consultant at CLA, who later introduced her to Clare Housing. It's the largest licensed provider of supportive affordable housing for people living with HIV in Minnesota. In the past few years, Vatasaas has watched it double in size.

“We've added 100 units of housing to serve formerly homeless individuals living with HIV and AIDs,” she said. “It's a transformational organization for clients, but also for anyone who engages with it.” 

Their research has shown that when people are housed and can stay on their medication, their viral load actually goes to zero and they can no longer spread the disease. "So it has a much larger community impact."

Vatasaas has served as board treasurer and finance committee chair since 2011. Being part of Clare Housing has opened her eyes to the diversity of individuals living in the community. "Helping guide and govern an organization that has such a profound impact on individuals and families is truly a blessing."

She credits St. Thomas for fundamentally changing how she navigates in the world. Her husband, who graduated from St. Thomas Law School, agrees. "The focus on the common good was woven into both programs at St. Thomas. The institution’s mission was -- and continues to be -- very influential on our family today.”