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Kathleen Fleischauer

Global Development Coordinator

k.fleischauer@northeastern.edu

 

 

 

 

What you are studying at Northeastern and when is your expected graduation?

MS in Nonprofit Management. Scheduled graduation is September 2022.

 

Role and length of employment at GRI thus far

Global Development Coordinator. I started with GRI in January 2021.

 

Please provide a short background about yourself and what you are studying at Northeastern.

I am originally from Ithaca, NY and first came to Northeastern University as a high school student visiting prospective colleges. However, I ended up going to Montreal, Canada to pursue a BA in International Development and Anthropology from McGill University. After that, I lived in the south of France and Chicago, where I realized I wanted to get involved in international nonprofits, particularly in humanitarian work. Therefore, I decided to come to Boston in 2021 to join Northeastern’s MS in Nonprofit Management program.

 

What brought you to GRI? What about GRI interests you either personally or professionally?

I was originally drawn to GRI because the resilience projects they had done seemed very closely linked with the development work I was so interested in. Although I had never really heard of resilience, outside of it being a buzzword for getting through the pandemic, I learned that a systems-thinking approach to recovery and “building back better” are characteristics that are also critical to successful development projects and humanitarian efforts.

 

How has GRI helped you with your professional goals? What have you learned? What skills have you gained?

Before joining GRI, my professional goals were to learn more about international development, in any capacity. However, I was not sure in what direction I wanted to take that interest, whether it be marketing and communications, project implementation and management, grant writing and research, or another focus area. The team at GRI was incredibly understanding of this and very flexible in allowing me to dabble in different aspects of the organization and discover what my professional interests are within this field. Despite starting out at GRI as a Communications and Marketing Assistant, I eventually became more involved with operations and project management as I became more interested in getting directly involved in resilience projects.

I would not have realized my passion for project management and content writing were it not for this freedom to try new things at GRI. I have gained skills in grant writing and task management, as well as had great opportunities to liaise with GRI’s strong network of professionals and learn from their experience.

 

How will your experience at GRI affect your future career?

My experience at GRI has definitely made my career path more clear. When I first started at GRI, I was in the very early stages of my career and though I knew what my general interests were, I was still quite unsure of what exactly I wanted to do. My experience at GRI has helped me to find more clarity in the kind of future work I would like to pursue, as well as equipped me with transferable skills that I can apply to job applications upon graduation.

Additionally, at GRI I had the pleasure of working with colleagues who were at very different stages of their career and had many different areas of expertise. From undergraduate students doing their co-op at GRI, to seasoned academics considered experts in their fields, it was very valuable to see how everyone respected each other and recognized the unique skills, interests, and experience each person brought to the table. This experience will definitely help me to be a better colleague in the future and appreciate each person’s capabilities regardless of their career level.

 

What does resilience mean to you? How will you apply the understanding of resilience that you gained at GRI to your future endeavors?

At GRI we learn very quickly the catch phrases that help define resilience – “building back better,” “bouncing forward,” etc. While these are certainly helpful in gaining a surface level understanding of resilience, I think what GRI has really helped me understand about resilience is the deep interconnectedness of it. There are so many factors that affect resilience, from the individual level to global level, from one building block to an entire system. This means that successful resilience requires input from people from all different backgrounds, including community members, social scientists, technical experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders. I think this kind of thinking is extremely valuable to international development projects as well, in which community engagement is highly valued as well as interdisciplinary expertise. Both resilience projects and general development projects have an unfortunate history of technical experts thinking that their tools or experience will be enough to produce lasting change, and GRI has really pushed the fact that this approach is both inequitable and unsuccessful. I believe this as an extremely important lesson that I will carry on to my future endeavors.