Meet Madeline Serena, Director of Programs

Each month we’ll be profiling a member of the Happy Hearts Fund team. Check back to get to know us a little better and find out what goes on behind the scenes at HHF!

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Madeline Serena is the Director of Programs for Happy Hearts Fund. Madeline joined HHF after working for the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, as well as A World at School where she built a global network of youth to advocate for access to and better quality education. Previously she worked at several NGOs focusing on education and poverty reduction. Madeline holds an MPA in Public Policy from NYU and bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Why did you want to work at Happy Hearts Fund?
I’m very passionate about global education, particularly for those in underserved, impoverished communities and this is the heart of whom Happy Hearts serves. Natural disasters affect more than 200 million people annually and I’m grateful that we are working to better these children’s futures.

Tell us about a typical day at the HHF office.
I don’t think there is a ‘typical’ day here. Sometimes it’s busy and very full of energy with music playing and people on calls, while other days it’s quite calm and quieter.

What goes on in your life outside of Happy Hearts Fund?
I keep myself pretty busy hanging out with friends and family, taking Spanish classes, going to the gym, and all things music – dancing, concerts or music festivals. But I also love relaxing at home with my four-legged daughter, Charlie.

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Where do you like to spend your time in New York?
I spend most of my time with my friends. That’s usually in Brooklyn but not always. NYC has endless places to explore so it’s fun to mix it up and see what all is out there.

What would you like to see for HHF in the future?
I would like Happy Hearts to expand to new areas, specifically to sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the hardest-hit and most vulnerable region of the world. That said, it’s a double-edged sword because expanding means the loss of education and possibly much more for children and their communities. But there are millions of children each year who are out of school due to a weather-related issue and I hope we can grow to serve a wide range of them.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m a huge University of Michigan football fan – don’t try to get a hold of me Saturday afternoons in the fall because I’m sure to be glued to a TV watching college football.

Coffee or Tea?
Tea! I realize I’m the minority but have never really liked the taste of coffee. But you’ll find at least 10 different types of tea at my desk because I’m a fanatic.