Cool to Be Kind

Aysha Mahmood

Aysha Mahmood’s job is, in short, to make kindness cool, a goal as ambitious as it is straightforward. The idea alone can make people roll their eyes, she says, “especially if you consider yourself too cool to be kind.”

Mahmood ’14 (CLAS) obviously does not. She works for Born This Way Foundation, the nonprofit co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, to promote mental health and activism in young people. Mahmood does that essentially with good news. From her home office in Windsor, Connecticut, she edits the foundation’s Channel Kindness, a digital platform that features stories by young people from around the globe about how they are changing the world.

“The stuff they are doing is mind-boggling,” Mahmood says.

A recent story recounts how a 10-year-old Texan started a nonprofit to help homeless people. Another describes how young Asian-Americans around the country are fighting racism. The hope, Mahmood says, is that these stories inspire more young people to do good in big or small ways.

Mahmood, 28, studied political science and journalism at UConn. The Connecticut native still recalls the thrill and anxiety of one assignment, to find and write a news story during a single 90-minute class. “Thankfully, we only had to do that once.”

After graduation she worked at the Manchester Journal Inquirer and then as a press aide for the Connecticut State House Democrats. When talking about politics 24/7 began to feel a bit toxic for her, Mahmood decided it was time for a change.

“This job combines my love for journalism and my love for social good,” Mahmood says. “I feel like I’m living my dream.” 

By Amy Sutherland
Photo Courtesy of Aysha Mahmood


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