Carolyn Miles

Carolyn Miles

Induction Category:
Reformers

Born: 1962

Inducted: 2015

Town: Southport

A recognized international non-profit leader and passionate advocate for children in need, Carolyn Miles worked in a variety of fields before a trip to the Philippines changed the direction of her life. She began her career at American Express, after earning her M.B.A. from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 1988, then helped to grow a successful coffee shop business in China, Singapore and Hong Kong, before moving back to the US and switching gears to the non-profit world, where she is now the President and CEO of Save the Children.

Carolyn Speer Miles was born in Canton, CT in 1962 and grew up in Bethel Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her parents, Edison and Nancy, and brothers, David and John. She attended Bucknell University, where she received her B.S. in Animal Behavior in 1983. After graduating, she decided not to pursue a job related to her degree, and instead went to work for a large company in their sales department. Carolyn loved working for a big company, so she decided to pursue an M.B.A. from Darden where she majored in marketing. Shortly after completing her degree in 1988 she married Brandon Miles, whom she had met at the University of Virginia. After graduation, Carolyn took a job at American Express in New York.  When an opportunity to work for their travel-related services became available she decided to take the job. Shortly after relocating to Hong Kong, Carolyn found out she was expecting her first child, Keegan.

After the birth of her second child in Hong Kong, Carolyn decided to help fellow Darden alumni Tom Neir with his coffee shop business. The company became very successful and grew to 40 stores throughout Asia. Carolyn and Tom ended up selling the business to a Chinese investor.  Currently the coffee shops are located all over over China, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

It was during her time in Asia that Carolyn went on a trip to Philippines where she saw a woman with a baby the same age as hers begging for money in the street. It was a profound moment for her, in which she was confronted by the massive deprivation of the region’s children, and realized how many children were living in poverty and would not have the same opportunities that her’s would have. The experience prompted her to begin doing volunteer work in Asia, and she decided when they moved back to U.S. that she would transition to the non-profit sector.

Back in the U.S., Carolyn joined the Westport, CT-based Save the Children as Associate Vice President in 1998. She quickly climbed the organization’s ranks, becoming Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2004. During her time as COO, she grew the budget and Save the Children was able to double the number of children it reaches. In 2011 Carolyn became the organization’s first female President and CEO, making hunger, learning outcomes and ending preventable child deaths her signature issues. She has traveled to field operations in more than 70 countries and has spearheaded efforts to engage more people with the organization’s mission through social media.

In addition to her work with Save the Children, Carolyn is the recipient of Bucknell University’s 2011 Distinguished Citizenship Award and has served on numerous boards including those of Blackbaud, InterAction, USGLC, MFAN and the Darden School of business. She currently lives in Southport, Connecticut with her husband Brendan and their three children.


During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice