Jennifer Ragland

Jennifer Ragland

'02 MPA/IR
Senior Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations
The Coca-Cola Company

Jennifer Ragland is on the Coca-Cola Company’s Global Public Policy, Environmental Sustainability and Social Impact team, where she helps develop public-private partnerships that create “shared value” — on projects that deliver both business value and societal impact. Her work allows Coca-Cola to have NGO-like impact in markets where business goals can be shaped to fit local needs.

 “As a company that operates in over 200 countries and territories, we are very global yet with local operations everywhere we operate,” Ragland says. “So, we see the importance of investing in communities socially and economically.

One of the projects that Ragland led was Project Nurture, an initiative in partnership with the Gates Foundation and TechnoServe that helped about 54,000 small-scale fruit farmers in Kenya and Uganda double their fruit incomes. “As the Coca-Cola Company saw greater demand among consumers in Africa for juice, we sought to develop a local supply,” Ragland says. “Farmers received skills training in mango and passionfruit production, basic agricultural practices, farm management, and business skills.” As a result, participating women farmers saw their average incomes increase by 140 percent over four years. “I was significantly involved in stewarding and communicating the project’s success,” says Ragland, who previously worked for USAID and in the nonprofit sector.

Project Last Mile embodies another partnership that brought together civil society, government, and the private sector to address a serious development challenge. “It began when Melinda Gates asked us a simple question: ‘If you can find a bottle of Coca-Cola just about anywhere in the world, then why not medicines?’” Ragland recalls. “Since 2010, we have partnered with the Global Fund, USAID, and the Gates Foundation to improve access to medicine, applying our over 85 years of logistic, supply chain, and distribution and marketing expertise to help African governments maximize their own capacity to deliver critical medicines and medical supplies to remote African communities.”

Ragland, who has been with Coca-Cola for six years, is most proud of contributing to Coca-Cola’s open engagement policy with stakeholders, as well as efforts to increase transparency across supply chain. “I have managed our relationship with Oxfam, who launched a campaign against the [Coca-Cola] Company on land rights four years ago,” Ragland says. “With a focus on open and consistent engagement, I am proud of what we have done together to address key social and economic issues in multiple countries.” Under her watch, the company launched an interactive sustainable-sourcing map, tracking not only Coca-Cola’s sourcing methods, but third-party studies related to child labor, forced labor, and land rights in the company’s sugar supply chain.

Ragland attributes her professional progress to her education at the Maxwell School. “My joint degree at Maxwell gave me exactly what I was looking for, practical, hands-on work (via public administration) coupled with a more reflective, global program (via international relations),” she says. “I felt much better prepared to reenter the workforce with foundational knowledge in PA/IR and an improved ability to manage complex issues.” Key professors she had at Maxwell (including Sean O’Keefe and the late, great William Duncombe) “stand out for me as their approach was all very applied with a focus on development of key competencies and skills that they knew we would need in the workplace.”

While at Syracuse University, Ragland volunteered as a reporter at local National Public Radio affiliate WAER. “I enjoyed it greatly not only to develop reporting skills, but because I got to see what was going on in the city and meet a lot of interesting people,” Ragland says. “I also spent the summer in between my studies in Geneva working at the United Nations, which only furthered my passion for public service.”

An outstanding student, Ragland received the Gerald B. and Daphna Cramer International Studies Scholarship. She also had a graduate research assistantship at the Information and Computing Technology Group. “The scholarship and the GA work were absolutely critical as I funded my time at school,” Ragland says. “The debt would have been much higher and a harder hill to climb after school.”

Now a successful alumna, Ragland has key advice for current students: “Be true to yourself, challenge yourself with new ideas and ways of working, respect people’s unique perspectives and contributions and find meaningful work that makes you feel good about getting up every day.”