Catherine Low

Community Liaison, Community Health and Special Projects Team @ Centre for Effective Altruism
3782 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)Oxford, UK


I'm one of the Community Liaisons for the EA community (alongside Julia Wise and Charlotte Darnell).

I'm a contact for community health support for EA groups, and I also works on assessing and mitigating risks to the EA community. 

I initially studied a lot of physics, then was a high school teacher for 11 years before moving full time into EA community building. I ran local and national EA groups and worked on EA outreach projects,  before joining CEA’s Groups Team in early 2020 to support EA groups worldwide. I started working for the Community Health team mid 2021. 


The EA donation swap project has had very little usage over the last couple of years and has been officially discontinued.

You can find out about tax deductible effective giving options in your country by checking out Giving What We Can's guide.

I’d like for Marisa to be remembered for all the many ways she contributed to the EA Community, and the causes we all care about. 

She contributed in so many ways, that I know I’m going to miss a bunch of things. I guess that was one striking feature of Marisa – she saw things that needed to be done, or heard people’s requests for help or advice, and she didn’t hesitate to leap in to help. In particular, she did an impressive amount to help us be a welcoming, inclusive and supportive community for newcomers to EA and to people of backgrounds underrepresented in EA. 

I think she really embodied the EA principles. Many of the things she did were unpaid, unglamorous, and sometimes tedious. But she took on all these tasks with eagerness because they were important and needed doing. 


This is certainly not a full list - please feel free to add more information if you know it. 

  • In her early EA days (2017) Marisa volunteered at Rethink Charity, helping out across a number of Rethink Charity projects, and was hired part time to work on operations. We could throw her a wide variety of problems and could deeply trust that she’d somehow manage to work them all out.
  • During this time she studied Sociology at Loyola University in New Orleans (with a semester in Ghana), and wrote an undergrad thesis on Value Drift in EA. This was shared and discussed a bunch over the years and was awarded an EA Forum prize. She also spent some time during this period in Uganda, volunteering at an agricultural development charity. 
  • When she finished her degree, she worked full time at Rethink Charity – keeping the org running smoothly; helping run RC Forward, a charity that allows Canadian donors to donate to the world’s most effective charities; and Giving Tuesday coordination, among other things.  
  • Alongside her work she helped coordinate ops information sharing through Ops Slack, offered her time readily to have calls and EAG meetings with community members interested in working in ops.  
  • She helped run a bunch of online things during Covid, including the EA Student Summit (a 2 day online conference during Covid), and EAGxAsia-Pacific. 
  • She volunteered for ALLFED doing operations work.
  • With SamiM, she started EA Anywhere, a virtual group for people who don't live near or can't attend local EA group meetups. She mostly ran this in her free time – running online meetups, having 1:1s with folks new to EA, and coordinating the other EA Anywhere volunteers. She secured funding in order to hire a new full time community organiser (Sasha) so she could work on other things.
  • On the back of her experience with EA Anywhere, she worked part time for several months with me on the CEA Groups team, creating resources for EA Groups and writing the monthly EA Groups Newsletter. 
  • In the last few years Marisa studied for a Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown University in DC, while also 


I’m devastated by this news. From the first time I worked with Marisa, 7 years ago, it was clear she had a deep compassion for others (human and animal), an ability to authentically connect with a wide range of people, a sharp mind, fantastic sense of humour, and unwavering motivation. 

During these last couple of years where Marisa was desperately unwell, I always hoped that she would one day hit on some successful treatment for her agonising illness and she’d make her way back to the optimistic, future focussed, extraordinarily driven person I first got to know and love.

It is just so sad – for her, for all those who cared about her, and for those lives she was yet to touch. My heart goes out to all her friends, family, her former colleagues, and her dog Chance.


Marisa with a dog (a different dog, not Chance)

This is Chance

Marisa at an EA Anywhere meetup.


I think the general question of whether enlightenment is real, and if so how could more people achieve it, is a very interesting one and I'd be interested in reading more about.  

I did want to note that I don't think that Spencer's twitter poll is much evidence for your headline statement "More than 50% of EAs probably believe Enlightenment is real". I think the EAs people who follow Spencer, and choose to respond to this poll are going to be a reasonably skewed section of the community. 

Given that EAGx Utrecht might be the most convenient EAGx for a good chunk of Western Europe, I'm not sure how important it is to have a goal for a % speakers with strong Dutch connections rather than Europe connections. But the density of talented Dutch folk in the community is very high, so you might hit 35% without any specific goal to do so.

Thanks for the public update. Some readers might also be interested in what actions and decisions EV and the Community Health team have been taking around this.

  • Over the last 9 months Owen has not been allowed to attend EV-run events and in-person spaces (like EA Global and EV run offices). EV exec is currently deciding how EV will interact with Owen going forward, and are planning to publish that in the future. They have sought external advice and advice from our team.  
  • We are in communication with Owen about professional updates on his end so we can check in about safeguards where relevant. We have given him some advice aimed to prevent possible future harm. 

People actively considering the choice of whether to work with Owen based on the balance of information available are welcome to reach out to us for input as part of their decision making process. Feel free to reach out to me ( if you are in this position. 

Thanks for sharing all this information Kat. It seems like this situation has been very difficult for everyone involved. Members of the community health team will look through the post, comments and appendix and work out what our next steps (if any) will be. 

Congrats on the new job, and a warm welcome to our community! 

I encourage you to reach out to Kathryn from Magnify Mentoring (I'm one of the board members). We support and connect women, non-binary and trans people interested in having a large impact. We have dozens of great mentors, many of whom are young women in leadership positions at orgs funded by EA motivated donors. (You also might be a good fit for becoming a mentor in the future once you have your bearings!)
Good luck!

Catherine from Community Health here. I was aware of this grant application. After discussion with my colleagues in Community Health who were also aware of the same concerns about Nonlinear mentioned in this post, I decided not to advise EAIF to decline this application. Some of the reasons for that were:

  • The funding was for a project run by three other people (not Nonlinear staff), and I had no concerns about those people working on this project
  • The three people were not going to be living with Kat and Emerson, which made risks to them lower
  • At that stage, I had heard some but not all of the complaints listed in this post, so I didn't have the same picture as I do now. The complaints were confidential, which constrained the possible moves I could make – I wasn’t able to get more information, and I couldn’t share information with the EAIF team that might lead to someone identifying the complainant or Nonlinear guessing that someone complaining had affected their grant decision.  
  • I could and did put some risk mitigation measures in place, in particular, by requiring the grant to be made on the condition that they set up an incubation contract to formalise the roles, reducing the risk that the incubatees and Nonlinear would have different expectation of access to funds and ownership of the project (which was one of the problems Alice reported).
  • I didn’t request that EAIF send the money directly to the three people involved in the project, rather than Nonlinear, but I was pleased that it happened

Looking back, given the information and constraints I had at the time, I think this was a reasonable decision.

The situation with person L was deeply tragic. This comment explains some of the actions taken by CEA’s Community Health team as a result of their reports.

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