Vocation and the Common Good is a multi-year research project describing the possibilities for Christian faithfulness within nine spheres of modern work. The Vocation and the Common Good Podcast is one way of distributing the findings of the project. Through conversation with selected members of the project, we intend to highlight the role institutions, friends, family, and colleagues have played in sustaining people within their ongoing attempts to be faithful to the call of God upon their lives.


In today’s episode, we sit down with Grace Chiang Nicolette, Vice President for Programming and External Relations at the Center for Effective Philanthropy, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  As we discuss, Grace has undertaken a number of ventures in the early stages of her career, spanning the for-profit/non-profit divide as well as the divide between east and west. Before her current work, Grace co-founded Social Venture Group, a philanthropic advisory group that helped connect capital from the west with promising social enterprises in China. Because of this work, Grace was named a Young Global Leader in 2011 by the World Economic Forum.

In our conversation, we speak about some of the questions that have abided with Grace amidst these early years of discerning her vocation across these various social locations.  On one level, Grace’s story vividly demonstrates the fact that our vocations in the world are both given and forged. First, through life circumstances, self-knowledge, and opportunity, we receive, we are given some sense of what we should do with the agency we’ve been given and the influence we wield. And yet, our vocations are not merely given, and to describe them as such is to run the very real risk of false modesty. We are also people who must take hold of what is given and, crucially, do something with it. And so, our vocations are also forged – worked out, as it were, with whatever tools we have at our disposal. 

What is compelling about this conversation is the way Grace seeks to do justice to both of these features of her life and vocation. In discerning what it is we should do, we are always and already caught up in a particular moment in time, with all its contingencies and possibilities, and what faithfulness requires is, at the very least, sustained attention to the questions that abide.