As the United States commemorates Women’s Equality Day on August 26, we’re celebrating a key aspect of our diversity, which is not yet the norm across many sectors, including in international development - gender equality. In the spirit of challenging convention, one of our core values, we’re honoring the phenomenal women who lead across Evidence Action. Currently, women comprise 54% of senior manager and higher roles, 57% of our global leadership team, and 50% of our board. We asked some of these women to answer a few questions about their professional development, inspiration, and the best career advice they’ve received, among other topics.
In the second part of this two-part interview series, we hear insights from a few more of our women leaders. Check out part one here.
Grace Hollister, Chief Engagement Officer and Global Deworming Lead
Grace leads all aspects of global strategy for the Deworm the World Initiative, working closely with country teams in Asia and Africa to ensure the program effectively reaches hundreds of millions of children each year. She also oversees global communications and fundraising.
1. My interest in the evidence-based approach to international development began… at the very onset of my career which begun at the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. The organization had a strong grounding in data and the use of robust monitoring to gauge impact. The evidence-based, rigorous approach of Evidence Action was a natural next step.
2. The Evidence Action value that most resonates with me is… Challenge convention. I began asking “why” very early in my life. Questioning the status quo has driven many of the most significant advancements in society, and continues to be critical to solving the most intractable problems in the world.
3. I am most inspired by... the awesome beauty of this planet. It is easy to lose sight of it amidst the fast pace of everyday life, but it is a constant reminder of our collective need to be better - for the planet and for one another. This is the only chance we’ve got.
4. The best career advice I ever received was... Before I went on maternity leave, a former boss said that he intentionally wasn’t going to ask me my plans, knowing that everything could change once the baby arrived. It was freeing to think that I didn’t need to have all the answers about my professional life in a time of tremendous personal change.
5. To me, success is… being able to live a balanced life, with time for all of the people, places, and things most important to you. That looks different for everyone.
6. To me, the most fulfilling thing about working in Evidence Action is... being able to shape the direction of an organization to whose mission I feel so strongly connected to and passionate about.
Faridah Mung’oni: Field Project Manager, Monitoring and Learning
Faridah manages the process of collecting both qualitative and quantitative data for Evidence Action programs, and developing and implementing data collection systems.
1. The Evidence Action value that most resonates with me is… Evidence first. Anyone that has data to back up their argument will always have a stronger case for support.
2. The best thing I’ve watched in the last year is... A video on life class by Caroline Mutoko which says sometimes you need to move horizontally to move vertically. In life, especially in career, if you have reached a place where there is no head room for you, it can make sense to move horizontally in order to move vertically.
3. The best career advice I ever received was... Don’t be afraid to ask for help! A lot of people think independence is a sign of success, but no one in a position of power got there without the support and help of others. Don't be afraid to ask for advice and help as needed.
4. The woman I would most like to meet and have a conversation with is… Vivian Onano. She is a Moremi Initiative fellow, a ONE Campaign Congressional District Leader, a UNA-USA campus advocate, and a Half the Sky Movement Campus Ambassador. I’d want to have a conversation with her about how we can create sustainable healthcare systems in rural parts of Africa which change the lives of women and girls.
5. To me, the most fulfilling thing about working in Evidence Action is... The challenge that comes with each assignment. Serving different programs with different monitoring needs opens my mind and serves as a platform for learning. The fulfillment that comes when data for my team is translated into useful information for various stakeholders, including donors, is immeasurable.
Priya Jha: Country Director, India
Priya provides technical and managerial oversight to Evidence Action’s initiatives in India, most notably the Deworm the World Initiative which reaches 260+ million children. Priya has worked across the public and non-profit sectors, including with the Government of India, the World Health Organization, PLAN International, and the United Nations Population Fund.
1. I joined Evidence Action because… I was drawn to the vision of scale-up and impact that Evidence Action has. Evidence Action’s ability to take risks in the space that we work in is impressive and also challenged me.
2. I am most inspired by... My vision of what I want to accomplish at work through my efforts: I want to be meaningful, resourceful, impactful in everything I do.
3. The best career advice I ever received was... from my husband. He gave me it to me at a time when I was taking on a leadership position that I thought I was not ready for. He said, "sometimes we have to trust others’ belief in us because we do not see it." The value of trust in our professional lives came from his advice. I shall be thankful always for that.
4. To me, success is… going to sleep at night knowing I did good that day, and that my conscience is clear.
5. The woman I would most like to meet and have a conversation with is… Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I am impressed by how much she has achieved at a young age, and her ability to manage her personal and professional life. Being an inspiration to a whole generation of young women who struggle to “have it all,” she has shown it can be done.
6. To me, the most fulfilling thing about working in Evidence Action is... I love my work. I like the scale, the pace, the diversity, the impact, the team, the partners, and the cause.
Carol Muringi: Senior Manager, Finance & Administration, Africa
Carol Muringi manages Evidence Action’s finance function in the Africa region, overseeing a regional finance team. She holds over a decade of finance and accounting experience.
1. The Evidence Action value that most resonates with me is… Definitely economize without compromise. I’m part of the finance team, and one of our greatest roles in the organization is to facilitate cost-effectiveness -- ensuring we get the highest quality products and services at the lowest cost and that we steward Evidence Action’s resources well.
2. I am most inspired by... teamwork –coming together with different ideas to achieve a common goal. When you’re part of a team, you learn so much from others and to appreciate other’s ideas. No matter how great we are we cannot go far without a backing of a strong team.
3. To me, success is… about how many lives we touch and whether our actions positively impact the society around us.
4. One thing I’m particularly interested in learning right now is... forward planning and strategic thinking.
5. To me, the most fulfilling thing about working in Evidence Action is... The rapid growth and team spirit.