Cassi Janakos has taken John F. Kennedy’s quote, “To whom much is given, much is required,” to heart—using the opportunities gained during her time at UC Santa Cruz to empower other women as leaders and innovators.
Passionate about making an impact for women in the workplace, Janakos (Porter ’11, economics) is making it easier for women to have a career, family, and achieve their dreams.
As chief operating officer and co-founder of Healthy Horizons, the first company to offer corporate lactation programs at scale, Janakos leverages her experience as an engineer, designer, and serial problem-solver to transform how companies ease the transition of new moms returning to work.
“I want to leave the earth having made an impact for women,” she says, “making it easier for them to reach their goals without being penalized or feeling like they need to choose one thing over another.”
Healthy Horizons provides lactation rooms and lactation benefits services for Fortune 100 organizations, startups, universities, and top workplaces across North America.
“No mother should feel forced to choose between her career and her little one,” Janakos says. “Our purpose is to make sure the workplace support moms need is available. ”
Janakos credits UC Santa Cruz with helping to develop her strong sense of social responsibility.
“UC Santa Cruz taught me that it is possible to have balance, and to be conscious of more than earning A’s as a measure of success. It gave me a sense of social responsibility and giving back.”
These values guide Janakos’s philanthropy as well.
When COVID hit, she says, it struck her how fragile life is. “If something happened to me and my husband, I wanted to make sure our estate went to causes we care about. Everyone, no matter their age, should be thinking about their legacy.”
She created an endowment for the UC Santa Cruz feminist studies department, naming the department as a beneficiary of her life insurance policy, which will establish the Cassi Janakos Breaking Barriers Scholarship to provide merit based scholarships to students majoring in Feminist Studies as well as provide unrestricted operating funds for the department. A portion of her gift will also fund the Academic Excellence (ACE) program, an academic support program that increases diversity of UCSC students earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM.
When asked about the kind of legacy she wants to leave, Janakos says she seeks to empower students who want to make a difference in the world of gender equity, and help underrepresented students in STEM. She says that while these areas are often underfunded, they are vitally important to our advancement as a well-rounded society.
“I believe that when you are able to help others, you should. It’s such a privilege to be able to help the next generation,” she says. “I was able to succeed and I want that for other people, too.”
Learn more about naming UC Santa Cruz as a life insurance beneficiary at the UC Santa Cruz Planned Gifts site.