It’s hard to believe I joined Trickle Up as President and CEO nearly a year ago.
On the one hand, time has flown by. Yet, I feel as if I’ve been part of this organization and a member of the team for a lot longer. Our board, staff, partners, funders, and peers have all been incredibly welcoming, supportive, and kind. The women in extreme poverty with whom we partner are amazing, strong, and brave. They inspire me every day.
I feel very lucky to have what I think is the best job in the world.
Traveling so much over the past 11 months, after more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions kept me at home, has been exhilarating. Visiting new places, meeting new people, seeing new things, absorbing everything I can, and learning, learning, learning has been energizing. Being away from home, from my husband, my children, and our dogs and cats has been a little hard. But they have survived so far and always seem happy to see me return (particularly our dogs, Koda and Mia!).
I have learned a lot about the graduation approach and livelihood programming, and I’m still learning how to lead an organization and support my team.
I have realized that change is hard and that I need to be patient.
I have understood that I should try to listen more and talk less (the latter has been quite a challenge).
I have learned to take “no” for an answer from a potential funder without getting too disappointed and learned to celebrate and eat ice cream when we win a proposal or welcome a new funding partner.
I am grateful to those who have come before and paved the way, and grateful to the funders and amazing board members who support us and this work that we have the privilege to do every day.
Our staff is incredible. As a small organization with limited resources, we are all stretched too thin and doing too much. But my colleagues are a passionate and dedicated group of people who also love to have fun.
From delicious team dinners in India to salsa dancing (sort of) in Mexico. And from driving the winding, mountainous roads of beautiful Guatemala to participating in learning sessions in Washington D.C., and most recently doing improv exercises on the roof-deck in our new NYC offices, my colleagues have become friends and people I care about.
The women we partner with in India, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Uganda, and Kenya are smart, joyful, and ambitious.
They are changing their lives and embracing their futures. It has been very moving to hear their stories, admire their work, see their businesses, and meet their families. From the field visits I was fortunate enough to do this past year, I have been left with an overwhelming impression of dynamic women embracing opportunities against overwhelming odds to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Many spoke about their isolation, fears, and apprehensions prior to joining our programs. They also told me how within a few years they have gained confidence, feel solidarity from being part of a savings group, and have hope. They are proud of their accomplishments, have gained a sense of agency, and have bold goals for the future.
They also love to take “selfies” and my phone is full of photos of their beautiful smiling faces.
There can be no doubt that these women are transforming their lives and the future of their families and communities.
As an organization and team, we are motivated to scale our impact in the coming years. We have set ourselves a bold goal of reaching 5 million people by 2030, and we believe we can do this by partnering with local governments and other nonprofits and developing their capacity to adopt and implement programming we know works.
By becoming a partner of choice, we can leverage partners’ infrastructure, reach, and resources to support many more women experiencing extreme poverty, together. That is going to take a lot of hard work, many more resources, and the ability to grow, change, and take risks.
So, as we embark on our next fiscal year and being to tackle these ambitious plans, I will leave you with the following recipe, one that has served me well this year and that I plan to continue to use:
Take a little luck, a bunch of gratitude, a big dose of inspiration and a pinch of fun. Mix thoroughly. And as my son Daniel would say, “suit up and let’s go!”