Duolingo Appoints Dr. Kendra Ross as Head of Social Impact
New Role Will Focus First on Local Impact in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Duolingo (NASDAQ: DUOL), makers of the world’s leading mobile language learning platform, recently appointed Dr. Kendra Ross to a newly created role as Head of Social Impact. This role will be located in the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters, and is Duolingo’s first full-time position dedicated to social impact. The initial goal of the social impact function at Duolingo is to channel the company’s people and resources towards making a positive impact in the local community.
“Pittsburgh has been a key part of Duolingo’s success, and we want that to translate back into success for our local community,” said Luis von Ahn, co-founder and CEO of Duolingo. “By creating this role and hiring Kendra to lead our social impact efforts, it allows us to better plan and operationalize our efforts with greater intention and scalability.”
“One thing I’ve learned in my time at Duolingo so far is that this is a very mission-driven company that attracts a lot of employees who are socially aware and want to engage with the local community,” said Dr. Kendra Ross, Head of Social Impact at Duolingo. “I see my role as the connector between the business, our employees and the community around us. I want to partner with more organizations in the local community that are already meeting the needs of residents here. We are finding the experts who already do this work, so that we can then direct Duolingo’s people and resources towards existing opportunities to get involved and provide support.”
Duolingo’s social impact efforts primarily focus on three key areas: funding local artists, supporting organizations aligned with our mission through financial and in-kind donations, and connecting Duolingo staff to volunteer opportunities. Some of Duolingo’s previous community engagement efforts include a commitment of $150,000 to support community arts, sponsorship and volunteer support of local organizations like the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Catapult Pittsburgh, 412 Food Rescue, Hello Neighbor, Casa San Jose and more. This includes sponsorships, donations of laptops, clothing, food, and other needed items.
"Kendra has been an invaluable partner to the arts community here in Pittsburgh and we are so excited to see the incredible work that she will continue to foster with our neighbor Duolingo,” commented Joseph Hall, Executive Director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. “Community thrives when we share our passions with each other through language, movement, listening, and visual expression. With this role, Duolingo is creating more pathways for our passions to connect.”
Dr. Kendra Ross is a Pittsburgh native and alumna of Pittsburgh Public Schools. She brings a diverse background of experience in community engagement, higher education, and arts and culture administration. Prior to joining Duolingo, Dr. Ross served as an Assistant Professor at Point Park University, where she recently completed a doctoral degree in Community Engagement. Her dissertation research focused on the role of Black women cultural workers in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District community, where she serves as the co-chair of #ArtsInHD, a collective of Hill District creatives. Kendra has also consulted for non-profit organizations such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center, and UniSound on their community engagement, DEI, fundraising, and marketing strategies. She spent more than 15 years managing systems and label operations for Universal Music Group in New York City, the world’s leading music company.
Duolingo is the most popular language-learning platform and the most downloaded education app worldwide. The app makes learning new languages fun with bite-sized lessons that feel like playing a game. The company's mission is to develop the best education in the world and make it universally available. Duolingo offers over 100 total courses across 40 distinct languages, from Spanish, French, German and Japanese, to High Valyrian and Klingon. www.duolingo.com.
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