Impact At Scale

The Beeck Center engages global leaders to drive social change at scale.

Cara LaPointe, Senior Fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation

Cara LaPointe

Senior Fellow

Cara is a futurist who has spent her career focused on the intersection of leadership, technology, policy and ethics.  She came to Georgetown from the White House, where she was the Interim Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, a non-partisan leadership development program.  Cara spent over two decades in the United States Navy, most recently serving as the hand-selected Chief of Staff to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems.  In that position, she helped lead the Navy’s efforts on unmanned and autonomous systems in all domains.  She is a patented engineer, having co-designed a passive diver thermal protection system for deep-sea divers.  At the Deep Submergence Lab of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Cara conducted research in underwater robotics focusing on deep-ocean autonomous underwater vehicle navigation and sensor fusion algorithms.

During her Navy career, Cara held numerous roles in the fields of autonomous systems, acquisitions, ship design and production, naval force architecture, power and energy systems, and unmanned vehicle technology integration.  As a ship concept manager, Cara focused on the future including serving on the Navy’s Long-Range Shipbuilding Strategy integrated team and contributing to the Quadrennial Defense Review.  As a program management and acquisition professional, Cara helped provide government oversight on a $100 billion major defense shipbuilding program.  Cara also served as the Deputy Program Manager of the Navy’s Electric Ships Office, working with leaders across the Navy to drive the development of cutting-edge shipboard naval electric power infrastructure and the integration of high-energy systems.

Cara has deep experience in community outreach efforts both at home and abroad.  Internationally, Cara spent time living on the island of Yadua, Fiji participating in marine biodiversity surveys and working in the local community of Denimanu to study the evolution of common property resource management regimes of South Pacific fisheries.  In northeastern Honduras, Cara worked with local communities in the region to install clean potable water systems and also participated in a project to build an early warning flood detection system.  Domestically, Cara served as a White House Fellow for First Lady Michelle Obama.  During her time with Mrs. Obama, Cara primarily focused on developing public-private partnerships resulting in industry pledges of 100,000 new veteran and military spouse jobs and philanthropic pledges of $100 million in support of veterans and military families.  Cara is also an avid mentor and has achieved recognition for her extensive science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach efforts.

As a result of her technical and policy expertise, Cara frequently serves on panels and initiatives to drive both domestic and international policy around the future role of robotics, autonomy, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity and blockchain technology.  She currently serves as a French American Foundation Young Leader and as an elected Director on the board of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association.

Education: United States Naval Academy, B.S. in Ocean Engineering with a minor in French; University of Oxford, M.Phil. in Development Studies; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S. in Ocean Systems Management and Eng. in Naval Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (awarded jointly), Ph.D. in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Favorite Quote: What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.  – John W. Gardner

What I’m Reading Now:  Who Can You Trust?  How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman

Featured Blog Posts

TedX Georgetown: Where Leaders Live

TedX Georgetown: Where Leaders Live

November 19, 2018: Lessons from a young leaders journey on how discomfort can actually help address problems, identify solutions and ultimately drive impact in communities.

Members of Our Team


Get all of the latest news and our exclusive content straight to your email inbox.




Follow Us

© BCSII 2016


Show All