Cara Willis

Cara Willis

Vice President, Communications and Marketing


Cara Willis is an award-winning, senior external affairs leader with extensive experience launching nationally recognized nonprofit, political and data-driven initiatives.

Under Cara’s leadership, Upstream USA has received coverage in the New York Times, The AtlanticNPR, VOXNew York Magazine, and Reuters. Prior to Upstream USA, Cara served as Director of Communications for Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan, national campaign to expand economic mobility in the US. As a founding staff member, Cara led Opportunity Nation’s communications efforts to make economic opportunity a central part of the national dialogue. Cara oversaw the marketing and messaging for the annual Opportunity Index, a comprehensive measure of a region’s economic, educational and civic health at the community level. While Director of Communications, Opportunity Nation’s media impressions increased tenfold and the campaign received in-depth coverage in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Fox News, Atlantic Cities, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and CNN Money, among others. Additionally, Cara led on the strategy and execution of Opportunity Nation’s national summits, bringing together thousands of leaders from across the country.

Cara was recognized by the South by Southwest Interactive Festival as one of five recipients worldwide of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Scholarship Award for using new media to tackle community problems; specifically her work on the Opportunity Index.

Previously, Cara worked for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Alan Khazei’s US Senate campaign. Cara graduated magna cum laude from Boston University where she majored in Political Science and History and was the recipient of the Herbert and Mary Greig Scholarship for Distinction in American History and the Promotion of Civic Responsibility as American Citizens.