Development Practitioners Lecture Series
(Photo by Kate Hiller)
The International Development Studies (IDS) program at Ohio University has begun a Development Practitioners Lecture Series through the Center for International Studies. Ohio University IDS alumni, along with other practitioners from select development organizations, will be coming to Athens for a series of talks about their work in the professional field of international development.
This lecture series offers students the opportunity to hear from professionals about the types of careers available to those interested in international development, and especially the four concentration electives of the IDS program – environment, gender, health, and social sciences. The practitioners participating in the lecture series have expertise and experience in a wide variety of development sectors, and want to share their knowledge and current understanding of the field with students looking to follow similar career paths.
All are welcome to attend these talks to discover how development professionals today are acting as catalysts for change throughout the world.
Lorna Jean Edmonds
The Ohio University Vice Provost for Global Affairs spoke to the IDS students about international development and her work. Dr. Edmonds also serves as the Director of the Center for International Studies.
Mr. Dan MacBrayer (class of 2009) spoke to the current IDS students about his educational and career experiences in the development arena. His wide range of past job positions has afforded him a great deal of experience from working with for-profit development agencies, to the government, and non profit work. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia from 2001-2003 and has since then been involved in a myriad of programs there. Mr. MacBrayer held a Fulbright Fellowship Research position with Transparency International in Georgia where he looked at issues of identity in relation to displacement. He also worked as Program Manager for the World Vision Georgia’s Abkhazia Program. Mr. MacBrayer was employed with Chemonics for a short time before moving to a position with the State Department serving as a program officer for a foreign exchange program. Currently, he works for the National Cancer institute as the Liaison for International Partnerships. He manages partnerships for a global research cooperative, and thoroughly enjoys his work. During his presentation, Mr. MacBrayer urged the students to find a workplace that provides a good work-life balance, and a positive atmosphere that fits with their needs as professionals. He also advised the students to keep learning and challenging themselves after their degree is finished at Ohio University.
We hosted Faith Knusten, a 1992 graduate of the IDS program. Faith is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and had an internship with USAID upon graduation. While her lifelong dream is to become a published novelist, Faith has had an exciting array of work opportunities. From an Alaskan fish cannery to serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire, Faith has constantly been innovating herself. She went to work for a development consulting company (Tropical Research and Development – TRD), has worked as an executive at Sun Power in Athens, and is now employed at Ohio University as Associate Director of TechGROWTH Ohio, a part of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
The Center for International Studies hosted Nick Ford in the development practitioner's lecture series. Mr. Ford is a 1996 graduate of the International Development Studies program at Ohio University, and earned his BA in 1990 in Business Administration from Wittenberg University. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, and took an internship with Catholic Relief Services upon graduation and went on to pursue a multi-year career with the organization. Additionally, he spent shorter times with Mercy Corps and now is back in the U.S. after more than 15 years overseas with Family Health International. Ford is an accomplished portfolio manager and has a wealth of experience in the field, including tours in Malawi, Tanzania, Eritrea, Nigeria, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Uganda, Rwanda, and The Gambia.
For two decades, Deborah Hirsh has been tackling a wide range of social and environmental problems, through the research and application of a variety of market-based models, including Fair Trade, microfinance, and corporate social and environmental responsibility. From 2000-2006, she worked for Fair Trade USA, the nonprofit organization that certifies and promotes Fair Trade products for the US market. In 2007, Deborah opened the Bay Area office for Portland-based green media company, Celilo Group Media, to launch their sustainable living guide and green business coupon book serving San Francisco Bay Area consumers. From 2008 to 2011, Deborah opened and managed the San Francisco office for the Philadelphia-based nonprofit B Lab, and stewarded businesses from a wide array of industries to become Certified B Corporations, companies that meet comprehensive, transparent, and high social and environmental performance standards. In 2010, Deborah co-founded the Hoop Fund, a social enterprise online platform that empowered farmers and artisans in the developing world by connecting them to microloans and Fair Trade product purchases from conscious consumers.
Over the years, Deborah discovered her passion for career coaching through her experiences mentoring the staff she hired and managed in both nonprofit and for-profit settings, as well as her previous work with immigrants and refugees as a job placement specialist in the 1990’s. Deborah now serves as a sustainable career consultant to students, early- and mid-career professionals, helping them to clarify their career goals and to plan successful “career roadmaps” across a wide variety of social and environmental change fields in the nonprofit, NGO, public and private sectors.
The International Development Studies’ first development practitioner series lecturer was David Brantley from Ashburn, Virginia. Mr. Brantley is currently a Senior Field Program Officer for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan and works on monitoring and evaluating USAID and other US government development contracts, grants, and programs in the areas of agriculture, education, health, stabilization, and governance. He has worked for both the US State and Commerce Departments in a number of advising, analyst, and managerial capacities in countries including Pakistan, Iraq, Singapore Turkey, and Malaysia. Mr. Brantley came to Ohio University October 1 to present a lecture entitled, “Between War and Peace: The Role and Reality of Stabilization”. He discussed the development processes taken by governments, militaries, and aid agencies after a country has been ravaged by war and consistent instability. Specifically, Mr. Brantley explained various stabilization techniques he has helped to implement in developing countries throughout his career.