The daughter of a teacher and ethics professor-turned-clergyman, I grew up with a strong sense of interconnectedness with my community. Interconnectedness – or ubuntu
, as it is known in some cultures – continues to motivate me to support communities where all have opportunities to thrive. I call it community wellness: taking care of our selves and taking care of each other.
To that end, I work with nonprofits promoting health and education services. I produce written collateral, such as social media and website content, grantwriting, and other communications, that support their services. I also create and implement development and communications strategies.
Currently, I manage corporate partners for Strive for College
, which helps low-income students go to college and pay for it. While the national average for low-income students enrolling in college is 50%, 97% of Strive students do so. This outcome is made possible in part by the corporate partners whose employees serve as volunteer mentors.
I also work with Faculty Development at the University of Virginia's School of Medicine, building their online presence in order to engage and support faculty. I previously assisted with online content for a UVA department focused on translational research and clinical practice.
During 2015-2017, I served as Development Coordinator for Building Goodness Foundation
. I helped oversee a campaign that resulted in the largest annual fund in the organization’s history. I also wrote grants for BGF, building on past success winning grants from the US State Department, private foundations, churches, and other community initiatives.
My career began with a human rights campaign group and a nonprofit, helping them build their organizations and new projects from the ground up. In 2005, while studying for a master’s in international relations at the War Studies Department
of King’s College London
, I began a research internship with Waging Peace
, which lobbies against genocide and systematic human rights abuses. My first assignments included exploring microfinance options in post-conflict environments and compiling a summary on the history of in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2006, having completed my master’s, I was hired as Waging Peace's first in-office director. I grew our grassroots support into a full-time campaign machine that lobbied government officials and provided education to local community groups. I helped coordinate the first global Day for Darfur
, enlisting speakers, planning logistics, and promoting the event in London. I liaised with colleagues to found Sudan Divestment UK, encouraging companies to withdraw from investments perpetuating the genocide in Darfur.
Additionally, I helped create Network for Africa
, which assists survivors of war and genocide in rebuilding their lives. N4A’s projects are locally led by our African partners, based on the needs of their communities – as expressed by the community, not by outsiders. While we have offered some short-term assistance in refugee camps elsewhere in Africa, our main projects are in Rwanda and Uganda. We offer job skills training; literacy, math, and business courses; seminars in legal rights and civic participation; and assistance with accessing health services. In northern Uganda – where the Lord’s Resistance Army, infamous for its abduction of children to use as soldiers and sex slaves, has ravaged villages - we have pioneered a first-of-its-kind trauma counseling program. We train lay counselors and give them bikes so they can visit surrounding villages, offering and making people aware of positive options, such as local business cooperatives that we are assisting with training.
As a director of N4A, I have developed and evaluated projects with our local African partners and worked with our team to implement fundraising strategies. After moving to California in 2007, I oversaw the application process for nonprofit status for Network for Africa US. I spearheaded a partnership between N4A and US clothing company Doncaster, which has supported Aspire, N4A’s yearlong training program for vulnerable women, by buying beaded necklaces that the Aspire women make by hand and selling them in the US. I have also written successful grants for several N4A programs. I currently serve on N4A’s board of directors.
Top photo: Gary McConnell Photography