Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255


December 3 2007

Michele Malejki stays connected to East Africa

Undergrad experience leads to fundraiser on Wall Street

Michele MalejkiMichele Malejki (BS '06) who is now a JPMorgan analyst, tells the story of her continuing involvement in East Africa. The story began with an undergraduate internship in Tanzania where she worked on women's worker rights and workplace issues, supported by an International Experience Grant from ILR International Programs. Motivated by the volunteer experience, Michele now leads a philanthropic culture at JPMorgan through A Running Start Foundation charity running team (described below).

Two JPMorgan analysts raise funds for A Running Start Foundation to help East African youths. (JPMorgan internal newsletter)

With the odds against them, two analysts in Credit Risk Management ran the New York City 13.1-mile Half Marathon this past summer to support A Running Start Foundation, one of the first nonprofit organizations to harness the athletic talents of youths in East Africa so they can achieve a better life. Despite little formal training in distance running, Michele Malejki and Christopher Thompson both completed the course in under three hours and managed to raise over $5,500 for the charity through donations. Having the opportunity to help people, motivated us and provided the will power needed to finish the race, said Thompson. The he support we received from management and our colleagues across IB was encouraging. Malejki and Thompson are examples of the kind of employee-initiated efforts supported by team IB, which aims to support a culture of philanthropic and charitable giving that is aligned to the IB business philanthropic priorities. 

It was encouraging to join the firm and find that there are individuals like me who are both willing to support and participate in meaningful events to back global causes, said Malejki. I never thought that a career in investment banking would accommodate my interests outside of work. A Running Start is dedicated to using the power of sports to improve the lives of East African children in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, where the average annual income is roughly $200. Founded in 2004 by Karl Kierstead, a former Wall Street equity analyst and senior vice president, A Running Start assists young East Africans by helping them continue their education beyond primary school, establishing training facilities that provide proper coaching, and offering athletic scholarships to study at U.S. universities.

Prior to her involvement with A Running Start, Malejki had always been interested in giving back to the East African region. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, Malejki studied in Tanzania, working with the local Maasai tribe, and teaching English while helping some of the local women establish a jewelry store. Motivated by her first volunteer experience, she sought to bring her interest in corporate citizenship to her work at JPMorgan. I have always wanted to maintain my involvement in East Africa and A Running Start provided me with the opportunity to stay involved, said Malejki. Malejki, the first to discover A Running Start Foundation charity running team, pitched the idea of joining the team to Thompson who was instantly supportive. As a graduate of Long Island University where he led a number of volunteer activities, Thompson personally understands the significance of volunteerism and continues to remain involved in activities that allow him to give back.