Combining Science and Social Justice
Shira Shafir ’99
Director of Social Innovation & Impact, TOMS
When Shira Shafir ’99 was offered a job with the philanthropic shoe company TOMS, friends and advisers reminded her that she earned her doctorate in epidemiology to make the world a better place. Here was an opportunity to change lives on an enormous scale.
Shira accepted the position, and as director of social innovation and impact she found a perfect way to use her Loyola Marymount University education. “I became interested in public health because it was a chance to marry science, which I was good at, with social justice, which I was passionate about.”
She came to LMU on a debate scholarship, and competed all four years while she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology, with a double major in theology and a minor in philosophy. “My studies in theology and philosophy really helped me understand how to think, read and process information. That is characteristic of the Jesuit education and became enormously valuable in completing my Ph.D.”
Her role at TOMS is two-fold: impact assessment, where she looks at the results of the Giving Program – TOMS’ core mission of one donation for one sale – to ensure that people’s lives improve when customers buy their products; and social innovation, where she explores ways to advance the company’s philanthropy and keep it effective.
Shira’s interests couldn’t be better harmonized. “The impact dimension is all about science, using scientific methods to show how people’s lives are being affected. The innovation dimension is less science and more the broader global health context and assessing what needs could be met with a giving program.”