Lucy’s relationship and friendship with the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) and Plan International USA’s Global Women in Management (GWIM) programming began in 2000 when she joined the staff of CEDPA Ghana and worked on family planning and reproductive health projects. The mutual commitment grew stronger after Lucy participated in the Women in Management workshop (WIM 39) in 2002 in Washington, D.C. where she met women leaders from around the globe—women she remains in close contact with today.
During WIM 39, the team saw Lucy’s excellent training skills firsthand and it wasn’t long before she was invited to join CEDPA’s Master Training of Trainers Program under the Gates-funded “Women’s Leadership Program.” With an even stronger skill set, Lucy became a trainer and consultant for CEDPA, a role in which she continues through Plan today. Lucy has conducted multiple training programs in Ghana and throughout Africa on gender, advocacy, women’s leadership, and management and has served as a technical advisor on various projects. Because of her expertise in training design and delivery, Lucy is engaged by other organizations—including the Ghana AIDS Commission and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)—to conduct workshops. Her favorite topic for training is advocacy, because it is “extremely relevant in policy formulation, programming, and resource allocation.”
Throughout her illustrative career, Lucy has drawn on her experiences to pass along skills and resources to colleagues and beneficiaries, particularly younger women. Her commitment to building the next generation of women leaders through mentorship was what led Plan to invite Lucy to participate in the inaugural Alumni Coaching Program Workshop in 2006. After receiving training as a coach, Lucy has served consistently as a professional coach for alumnae graduating from Plan’s women’s leadership programs. She has coached women leaders from Indonesia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Angola, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana—among others.
Plan’s programs and training allowed Lucy to pursue a position as a consulting resource for other training programs during her retirement, which allows for a continued source of income that is “not too stressful for a retiree”. She had “always wanted to give back to young people in the community upon retirement,” and has found this position to be the perfect avenue for that support.
When asked to reflect on CEDPA and Plan’s influence on her life, Lucy remarks that her “career territory has enlarged”. Through the trainings, Lucy was able to become proficient in a variety of topics, as well as create social networks that enabled her to reach new professional audiences. This network provides friends, mentors and career connections.
She especially appreciates the effects of the ongoing relationship with Plan, because “when there is sustainability of relationships, it gives a better measure of the success of the programs over a period of time. It also becomes easier to understand the organization over a long period of time developing loyalty between the organization and participants.”
Nila’s first interaction with Plan was in 2010 when she participated in GWIM 52 in Washington, D.C. It was at the GWIM workshop where Nila learned “both a global perspective and national level experience within the developmental context, particularly on women’s empowerment.” Following the workshop, Nila applied for and was awarded a small grant from Plan to lead women’s leadership capacity building workshops in her community.
Nila’s specialty is bringing concepts into the local context, which she views as imperative because “while it is beneficial to have a deep understanding of certain overarching global concepts, I believe that it is most useful to translate these developmental issues into a specific localized environment.”
Plan provided Nila with that global perspective she needed, and she has since been able to apply these ideas to her area-specific work. When asked to reflect on the influence Plan programs have had on her life, Nila identified the teaching of soft skills as most effective in her daily life:
“GWIM provided me skills on topics that I had never thought about, such as elevator speeches, techniques on leveraging impacts, and skills on negotiation by considering the level of stakes,” she said. These specific lessons contributed significantly to my ability to articulate my ideas—especially with policy makers.”
Drawing on her extensive experience training local communities, Plan invited Nila to participate in the 2013 GWIM Training-of-Trainers workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia. Excelling at facilitation led to her engagement by Plan as a master trainer at the Asia Regional Global Women in Management workshop in Jakarta in 2016. Nila led sessions on gender, project management, and monitoring and evaluation and was able to contextualize the content for the rural environments where many of the participants implemented projects.
Nila describes her ongoing relationship with Plan as “vital” to her career and personal development.
“These programs are a huge investment in human capital that contribute not just to the individual participants’ life and career, but also to the group overall,” she said. We all share our unique experiences and perspectives with each other.”
In addition, Nila appreciates the global network and integrated perspective Plan provides.
“The workshops have contributed significantly to my international-level network, which has opened my eyes to the different experiences of participants from other countries, and allowed me to gather input from a variety of trainers on the issue of women’s empowerment. All of this has helped to contextualize my own work in Indonesia.”
Nila now works as a gender specialist for a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project on environmental policy development in Indonesia. She also takes advantage of field work opportunities.