Creative launches initiative to foster development of young leaders
By Evelyn Rupert
March 13, 2018
A new initiative will support Creative Associates International’s talented young team members from around the world, empowering them to enhance their significant contributions to development now and in the future.
Called the Creative Young Development Leaders, a group of nearly 20 Creative employees age 34 and younger from eight countries are working to enhance their leadership with support from across Creative in skill-building, networking and mentorship.
The Young Development Leaders effort is spearheaded by Creative’s Katy Vickland, Director of the Workforce Development and Youth Practice Area, who is co-designing the program with the young leaders themselves. Vickland says that after the year-long program, this inaugural class of leaders will have built on their current leadership skills with new knowledge and experiences that will serve them and their projects immediately and throughout their careers.
“The young leaders will benefit from having greater and deeper tools at their disposal for leading the change they want to see,” she says. “They will be empowered to catalyze impact and to, in turn, mentor and empower others in their communities.”
Connecting youth across continents
The Young Development Leaders, nominated by their chiefs of party, represent several different countries, including Afghanistan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cameroon, Honduras and Guyana. They come from a variety of professional backgrounds — communications, finance, human resources, operations and more — but have each shown a dedication to serving their communities and empowering fellow youth.
Ryan Hoppie, for example, founded the Come Alive Network in his native Guyana to showcase and enhance the leadership of more than 80 community youth leaders. Now, he’s the Workforce Development Specialist for the USAID-funded Community, Family and Youth Resilience program in Eastern and Southern Caribbean.
Hoppie, 30, says mentorship and networking allow youth leaders like him to learn from the experiences and viewpoints of others, making them better suited to propose and manage solutions in complex situations.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to build my capacity to contribute to positive youth development globally and assist in improving the lives of youth who are often socially and economically unattached from the communities they reside in,” he says of the initiative.
“I look forward to networking with fellow Young Development Leaders from across various continents so that we can fit the pieces of the puzzle together and improve the lives of our fellow youth.”
Across the globe in Afghanistan, Anisa Rasouli, 28, has been working as a Finance Officer for the USAID-funded Afghan Children Read project for about a year. She says she is keen to learn new leadership skills and network and collaborate with other like-minded and motivated people.
“I believe that networking is the backbone of linking people together to reach a specific result,” she says. “Belonging to professional network is not only a roadmap to exchange information, but also a path to analyze, differentiate, and integrate problems from different perspectives, cultures, qualifications, experiences and knowledge that might result in solutions to improve a society or country.”
Teaching and learning from youth
The Young Development Leaders initiative will prioritize mentorship for participants: peer mentorship from within the group, with other young staff at Creative’s office in Washington, and from senior staff including chiefs of party and country directors.
The group is creating a platform for international networking, which the participants identified as a top priority. Social media and other online resources will connect these young professionals and allow them to share information and collaborate.
In addition, Young Development Leaders will have an opportunity to further develop their leadership skills by designing and organizing activities and discussions both within the group and across Creative programs. For example, participants will have the opportunity to share their ideas on how to further engage diverse youth in development. They will also provide inputs to strategic planning, contributing to Creative’s place as a global leader in youth engagement.
Creative’s Chief Operating Officer Pablo Maldonado says these opportunities will benefit the group members’ individual development, and their current programs, while also contributing valuable insights to the organization at large and its projects around the globe.
“The Creative Young Development Leaders initiative is important for development because youth bring critical insights and skills to solving development challenges,” Maldonado says. “Through this initiative, we co-invest with them in building their leadership skills and elevate the young voices in our industry. Development programming has greater impact when we intentionally engage young leaders.”