I play two great interconnected roles – not only do I study social policy; I am also a practitioner. These two roles are mutual enrich both aspects of my work.
With more than two decades of social policy work experience, I have occupied roles that has afforded me the privilege to consider development from a variety of perspectives; as a student, teacher, political activist, social critic, and an on the ground program worker.My academic work is enriched by practical experience while my theoretical ideas are grounded in practical experience.
My teaching experience spans the gamut from rural community development workshops to university courses in social and political philosophy, applied ethics, as well as environmental and feminist ethics. As a practitioner, I specialize in formulating, articulating, assessing and documenting policies for actual and potential impact in line with ethical best practice. My research interest could be broadly categorized under social and global justice, with special attention to post coloniality in Africa.
What makes you excited to come to work in the morning? I love what I do; the mental rigor involved in addressing a development challenge, and navigating intellectual challenges – whether through writing or reading.
What’s a pressing need facing the development sector today?
Knowledge. There is a pressing need for we practitioners to learn more about ourselves – particularly our limitations; the terrain within which we must work – not just conventional data but also historical and cultural information; and most importantly, each side of the development sector – donors and beneficiaries – must learn more about “the other side”.
What are your three tips for managing and motivating people? Be authentic, get to know what motivates your audience, and stay connected.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? To dare more.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Possibly because mine was a sexist terrain, all I was sure of was that I wanted to be a career woman – any career!
What were you like in high school? Into myself, lacking in confidence, eccentric and a voracious reader.
What was your first job? Receptionist at a law firm.
What is one thing you always have with you? A toothbrush!
What’s your most prized possession? My collection of coffee mugs.
What’s an obsolete item you can’t get rid of? My cheese cloth coffee strainer.
What are you nostalgic for? My ancestral home which is located in a dense mangrove rainforest. The claim that trees clean the atmosphere is true. The air is unbelievably clean.
What’s the most influential book you’ve read?
So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba. I read it in high school for my O’ Levels. It was refreshing to study a contemporary text that was set in a black, African country, focused on a woman. Shakespeare never did catch on for me.
What is your favorite vacation or travel spot? My ancestral home. Commercial tropical rainforests are poor imitations of the real thing.
What’s an idea or invention you wish you’d thought of? Cooperatives. Community, wealth, innovation, all rolled in one.
What motivates you? Well thought out ideas.
What do you look for in a mentor? Integrity, example, accessibility.
What’s been your life’s biggest challenge? Gender and race – I crave a world in which the best ideas win.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far? Authentic living – staying true to my original ideals.
What can we do to be happier? Be more forgiving – of the world and its inhabitants.
What’s the best career advice you ever got in your career? Listen to hear.
What mentorship advice would you give to a new person in your field? Have courage and develop staying power. The trenches only make sense after, not during, the battle.