Selected Alumni Profiles
Selected Alumni Profiles
Marie Roberts De La Parra '16
Current position: President
Organization: Terra Green CDC
Location: Alameda, CA
Capstone Project: Decreasing Violent Behavior and Negative Life Attitudes of Youths Ages 16-24 in Oakland, CA
Testimonial: “Through my expanded knowledge, increased writing ability, and broadening of community and economic financial capacity building, this program has strengthened my capacity to grow the organization that I represent.”
Motivated by personal experiences, I felt a strong need to do what I could to make homes in my community safe to live in. This led to a career in construction and eventually to becoming the CEO of my own “green” environmental construction company. In my pursuit to make homes safe for low income individuals and businesses in my community, I was recognized and nominated for positions within several government agencies to provide guidance and oversight for the construction of safe and sustainable homes and businesses within the greater Alameda, CA, area. I am also a frequent guest speaker for a variety of community organizations and radio shows and have published several articles on “green building.”
Why Marie was attracted to the program:
My learning style is very hands-on with an open minded practice. The uniqueness of this master’s program intrigued me first by the program’s subject matter/offerings that are very diverse and specific to the discipline of choice. Secondly, that I could learn these practices in collaboration with the professors and fellow classmates online. Thirdly, through a highly accelerated program, I could receive a master’s degree in the subject that engaged my mind the most within a 14-month period. These three items were key in making my decision to attend the Carsey School of Policy at the University of New Hampshire. It was a done deal for me. The comradery throughout the program was an amazing, exceptional added bonus.
Marie's current position and responsibilities:
As president of Terra Green CDC, my current responsibilities include promoting neighborhood stabilization through sustainable, long-term strategic initiatives that promote community and economic development for individuals, families, and the community at large. This also involves relationship building, financial capacity strengthening of the organization and being the presenter for organizational goals at any public speaking engagements.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Marie achieve her career goals:
Through what I have learned in this master’s program, I am able to critically read, understand, and write intelligibly about current policies to bring awareness about important issues affecting the underserved. The opportunity for larger, more influential speaking engagements has increased, allowing me to expand my reach and communicate with clarity regarding disruptive change topics. My research capabilities have risen to new horizons and are significantly more impactful for grant writing proposals which include financial capacity building opportunities with large financial banking institutions. Through my expanded knowledge, increased writing ability, and broadening of community and economic financial capacity building, this program has strengthened my capacity to grow the organization that I represent. My new, highly developed, fine-tuned skillset is vital for the heightened success laid before me with my current and growing position.
How the capstone project helped Marie prepare for her work after graduation:
During the four sequential project courses which led me step-by-step through my community-based capstone project, I learned how to effectively research my subject area and collect the required data which included conducting key informant interviews, holding focus group meetings, and collecting survey data. All played a significant role in my ability to properly collect, analyze and present viable information on community needs. The quality of course materials and the attention to detail contained in the project’s logic model framework for my capstone was not typical – it was outstanding! This specialized master’s program allowed me to have a phenomenal capstone project and presentation experience that was well received by my community and the University of New Hampshire. The project process and what can be achieved has greatly increased my confidence when given the opportunity to work and present at this high academic level.
Marie’s favorite aspects of the program:
One of the aspects of the master’s program that I really enjoyed was the unique learning perspective and global viewpoint each professor brought to their classroom throughout the program. Their vantage point(s) provided insight and enlightenment reflecting local as well as global ambitions. My fellow classmates from various parts of the world shared their personal goals that connected us all to each other. Each graduate student shared their in-depth experience and personal knowledge of their community’s struggles, successes and approaches to tackling challenging issues. All together, a classroom of and about the world is what I most enjoyed.
Andrew Becker '15
Current position: Community Finance Consultant
Organization: Community Empowerment Solutions
Capstone Project: Savings Groups in Santa Lucia, Guatemala
Testimonial: “I really enjoyed the hybrid on-campus/online structure of the program. Without the online piece I would not have been able to put into practice in real time the knowledge and skills I was learning in the class room. However, if the program was only online I would not have had the opportunity to form strong and supportive relationships with my fellow classmates and professors.”
I graduated with a BA in International and Developmental Economics, a BA in Spanish and a Minor in Business administration from the University of New Hampshire in 2012. I then went on to work as a Research and Development Intern at the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF), a Microfinance Institution, in South Africa from 2012 to 2013. At SEF I worked on projects such as monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of our Technical Learning Conversations program that tailored financial education to our illiterate clients.
After working at SEF I was contracted by Community Enterprise Solutions to conduct a 6-month feasibility study to see if the Guatemalan social business it supports, Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom), could offer financial literacy and savings group training services to rural communities throughout Guatemala. I found that it was feasible to integrate that type of service within the business model of SolCom and went on to create and manage its Community Finance Program.
Why Andrew was attracted to the program:
As I was starting to design and implement the Community Finance Program at SolCom I realized that I had very little experience in program management. This master’s program series of project courses offered exactly the guidance and structure I needed to effectively create and manage the program. I had very limited knowledge about the logic model framework and was excited to learn from development practitioners that had years of experience using this framework to design, implement, manage, monitor and evaluate various development projects.
Andrew's current position and responsibilities:
Currently I am responsible for integrating the Community Finance Program into the business model of Soluciones Comunitarias. To ensure long term sustainability of the program, I am working to train the local Guatemala team to manage the program. I run training workshops and provide direct support to our Community Finance trainers in the field. I am also responsible for measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of the program to gain a deeper understanding of its impact on the quality of life of the participants.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Andrew achieve his career goals:
The project series of courses helped me structure the Community Finance Program in a way that started with the end result in mind. I use the logic model framework to guide the activities of the program and to ensure that what we are doing on a day-to-day basis is leading towards positive, long term sustainable change in the quality of life of the community members we serve. Also, apart from the practical concrete skills, the MACDPP program helped me to define what my theory of development is. I now have a clearer understanding of what it means to be a development practitioner and use the knowledge of development theory to guide the work that I do.
How the capstone project helped Andrew prepare for his work after graduation:
I learned that truly sustainable change can only happen when those that are enacting that change do so based on their own intrinsic motivation rather than being motivated by some other extrinsic factor. This realization has radically changed the way I go about doing development work. I learned how to combine that knowledge with the logic model framework and now feel very confident in my ability to affect positive social change in the world.
Andrew’s favorite aspects of the program:
I really enjoyed the hybrid on-campus/online structure of the program. Without the online piece I would not have been able to put into practice in real time the knowledge and skills I was learning in the class room. However, if the program was only on-line I would not have had the opportunity to form strong and supportive relationships with my fellow classmates and professors.
(Abe) Olaiseh Wambui '15
Current position: Program Director
Organization: Community Impact Associates
Location: Boston, MA
Capstone Project: Addressing Food Insecurity in the Georgetown, MA Community
Testimonial: “I benefited from the accessibility of the professors and tutors in the program. This meant that learning for me continued beyond the classroom experience, as I was able to reach out to them and get continuous support and direction. Even after graduation, I still have immense access to my professors whenever I need support – it’s like I never left.”
I worked in various positions at local and international non-profits in Kenya and the United States. I worked as program manager for an educational development program in Kenya and also in the area of economic development. In the United States I worked in human service for a government contractor in Massachusetts and also in non-profit marketing.
Why Abe was attracted to the program:
I was attracted to the hands on approach taken by the program. During the program, I was able to use the knowledge I gained while running a local U.S. non-profit organization to develop an organizational structure and also establish a system to attract and manage external funding. Secondly, the multi-cultural and global aspect of the program ensured that I was able to learn from a diverse group of individuals who have different field experiences in a myriad of sectors in development. This added value to my experience and offered me a different perspective on how various global communities were implementing change in their regions. Lastly, I benefited from the accessibility of the professors and tutors in the program. This meant that my learning continued beyond the classroom experience, as I was able to reach out to them and get continuous support and direction. Even after graduation, I still have immense access to my professors whenever I need support – it’s like I never left.
Abe's current position and responsibilities:
Non-profits locally and globally often lack the tools and resources required to achieve their desired outcomes. My current role is within a consulting organization that delivers products and services (technology and capacity building) to non-profit organizations to assist them in achieving their goals. My current responsibility is managing our project portfolio by ensuring that each project is delivered on time and on target. I also conduct needs assessments for our customers and lead trainings in race diversity and race relations. We are also in the process of launching several support programs in East Africa.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Abe achieve his career goals:
This master’s program helped me to think logically and critically while planning strategically. These key ingredients are the main components required to manage the kind of projects that I am responsible for. The skills that I learned from the master’s program have so far been as flexible and effective in different fields of work that I have engaged in.
How the capstone project helped Abe prepare for his work after graduation:
I learned that any project requires to be theory driven and that the outcomes of the projects should reflect such a theory of change. I also learned the need to be flexible while undertaking any project as needs and priorities shift based on needs, findings, and other factors during the course of a project.
Abe’s favorite aspects of the program:
I enjoyed the interactive nature of the program and the ability of the professors to lead discussions based on actual field experiences. I also enjoyed the online program, which I felt gave me the opportunity to work on my schoolwork and offered more flexibility than traditional classes.
Lado Lodoka '12
Current position: Regional Refugee Coordinator
Organization: Kansas Department of Children and Families
Location: West Region, Garden City, KS
Capstone Project: Playground at Atlabara West Basic School (South Sudan)
Testimonial: “What makes the learning environment unique at this program is that most of the professors are field practitioners with decades of experience—combined with extensive academic credentials. Acceptance of diversity of thought in the classroom is nurturing and comforting for independent thinkers. In addition, the structure and duration of the program allow for flexibility to balance being a student and family responsibilities.”
Prior to enrolling in the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice program, I was a project Coordinator for the New Migration Project at the Center for Preventing Hate, a non-profit organization in Portland, Maine. The Center for Preventing Hate’s mission was to prevent and respond to bias, harassment and violence by providing education and advocacy in schools, colleges, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and communities throughout six New England states.
Why Lado was attracted to the program:
This master’s program is intrinsically enriching in terms of its exploratory learning and practical, hands-on field projects which each student is expected to design and implement. I applied to this program because of a trusted friend who recommended it to me and because of its hybrid format with in-person summer sessions and distance learning during the fall through spring terms – that cemented it for me.
Lado's current position and responsibilities:
My current with the position with the Kansas Department of Children and Families requires me to monitor federal social service grants for refugees who have been in the United States for less than five years. The grant is awarded to States through the Office of Refugee Resettlement who in turn awards the money to non-profit organizations to deliver services to refugee communities in the state. I also engage with community stakeholders to foster a welcoming environment for refugees and new immigrants within my region.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Lado achieve his career goals:
It is hard to point to just one thing from the master’s program that has helped me in my current position because to me the master’s program enhanced so many of my skills. A primary focus of my position involves community engagement which requires public speaking, writing, and negotiation skills. Another critical area is monitoring the progress of the programs that I manage – all of which are areas that were greatly enhanced during the fourteen months of the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice program.
How the capstone project helped Lado prepare for his work after graduation:
During my project in South Sudan, I learned the difference between understanding the theory of development and what is required to actually apply this learning in a real world project. In the Juba District, children in the primary schools had few opportunities to socialize in a play-based setting outside the classroom because they did not have access to a playground. My project goal was to rally the community around building a school playground which involved coordinating efforts with school officials, teachers, and parents to raise funds, design and build the playground, and maintain it. I learned many valuable lessons while carrying out my project. For one, there is little that can prepare you for the challenges you will experience in the field. Learning to adapt as a situation unfolds, revising plans based on feedback from stakeholders, and learning from your mistakes are just some of the hard won lessons I learned.
Aruna Sharma '15
Current position: Writer and Producer of Cultural Nepal at Acton TV, Acton, MA
Organization: Acton TV
Location: Acton, MA
Capstone Project: Support for Immigrant Mothers (Acton, MA)
Testimonial: “I liked that the master’s program is very well balanced in terms of the theory and practical experiences. The intensity of work was just right. And, the selection of teachers and students was also very impressive.”
Previously, I was a quality assurance engineer to test various computer network protocols in routers including security features such as VPN and L2TP until I became a mother. As demanded by life changes, I became a dedicated caregiver for my child and family while getting involved in the local community of Acton, Massachusetts. I created a “cultural parenting” support group through First Connection and volunteered for Minuteman National Park and Emerson Hospital. I also volunteered and worked for the Acton-Boxborough public school system.
Why Aruna was attracted to the program:
During my intense parenting work, I came across the work of Dr. Michael Swack in partnership with the Stonyfield Entrepreneurship Institute - a "boot camp" for community-minded entrepreneurs. This impressed me a great deal as I am passionate about the importance of securing healthy families in thriving communities. I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Swack was the academic head of a master’s in community development at the Carsey School of Public Policy (UNH). I also learned that the master’s program is full of highly qualified professors with integrity in the area of community development work. Time, flexibility, and individual guidance were also two key factors in my decision to enroll.
Aruna's current position and responsibilities:
Currently, I am continuing my work that I developed through the master’s program capstone project and have expanded it to reach a wider audience through a radio program. My desire is to see my project create real change in the Acton, MA, immigrant community with their continuously evolving and growing needs.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Aruna achieve her career goals:
Through the master’s program, I have learned to articulate my community development work in a professional way. Gaining a deep understanding of the project design through monitoring and evaluation process helped me to start this new venture with more awareness.
How the capstone project helped Aruna prepare for her work after graduation:
The most important thing I learned while carrying out my capstone project is how the creation of a “structured decision making” approach helps you to understand the “big picture” perspective of a project while also providing a detailed roadmap for the project, from design through evaluation. I also learned how important it is to be open minded and flexible so adjustments can be made to your project plan as the project proceeds to insure a successful contribution to society.
Aruna’s favorite aspects of the program:
I enjoyed the program’s flexibility and personal guidance that I received the most. Friendship and the support of faculty, staff, and peers enabled me to overcome obstacles I faced in my project and life circumstances. I also liked that the master’s program is very well balanced in terms of the theory and practical experiences. The intensity of work was just right. And, the selection of teachers and students was also very impressive.
Tyler Mac Innis, '12
Testimonial: “The Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice gave me the grounding in a variety of topics that I needed in order to be successful in my work after graduation.”
Before enrolling in the MACDPP program, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Political Science at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. I came to MACDPP with an eye on public policy and how to advance economic justice, particularly through food systems work. At Salem State I spent time organizing students to confront poverty in our community through direct service and community conversations on the kinds of policies needed to improve conditions for marginalized communities.
Why Tyler was attracted to the program:
The thing that attracted me most to MACDPP was the interdisciplinary nature of the program. I knew that to be successful in policy work going forward, I would need a strong background in a variety of subjects. MACDPP gave me the grounding in a variety of topics that I needed in order to be successful in my work after graduation.
I also was attracted by the ability to go through the program with a small cohort of like-minded individuals from varied backgrounds seeking to affect change through very different channels.
Tyler's current position and responsibilities:
As a policy analyst with OCPP my work is primarily focused on advancing policies that advance social and economic opportunities for all Oregonians. To do this I conduct research and analysis on tax, budget and economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income Oregonians and publish reports, fact sheets, op-eds and other publications to build the case for policy change. We work in coalition with community organizations to support grassroots advocacy efforts with our materials and aim to set the agenda and move the public discourse on a variety of issues. For example, this past year we published a series of reports and fact sheets building the case for increasing Oregon's minimum wage. Our materials were used by advocates in the capitol and throughout the state to move lawmakers to raise the wage.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Tyker achieve his career goals:
The interdisciplinary nature of the MACDPP program has helped me greatly in my current position. Tax and budget policy work touches a variety of policy areas. My current work includes issues such as addressing Oregon's affordable housing crisis, increasing access to affordable child care, and making the case for increased investments in Oregon's public school system, just to name a few. Juggling a varied portfolio like that requires being a strong generalist, a skill I gained through the MACDPP program.
How the capstone project helped Tyker prepare for his work after graduation:
I learned a great deal about the need to involve and listen to community members in any effort to affect policy change. In working to develop solutions to help small fishers remain competitive against larger, corporate fishers, it was the community conversations with small fishers where I learned the most. Ultimately, those people are the real experts.
Tyler's favorite aspects of the program:
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to learn alongside a talented group of fellow students and an experienced group of faculty members.
Safiya Mohammed Adamu '15
Current position: CEO/Senior Consultant
Organization: Inclusive Access Synergy Limited
Capstone Project: Promoting Needed Reforms in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector
Testimonial: “The master’s program sharpened my analytical skills in evaluation of policies and their execution. And this has enabled me to be able to identify niches and opportunities in development programs and interventions in the economy.”
Prior to enrolling in this master’s program, I was a lecturer and assistant dean of student affairs & research and an associate consultant with the University Consultancy Outfit (ABUCONS). In June 2012, I went on to take up full employment with the Leadership Newspapers publisher of Leadership Daily and Weekend papers and online platform as the Chair of the Editorial Board. Being Chair of an Editorial Board entails a lot of reading and research and news analysis.
Why Safiya was attracted to the program:
The curriculum and the manner in which the classes accommodate different time zones and works of life around the world.
Safiya's current position and responsibilities:
In my current position, I am responsible for identifying, analyzing and assessing projects, and where necessary initiating new project. I provide leadership and direction for attaining our organization’s set goals and vision. I am the founder of the organization and I employ a strategy of collaboration and cooperation.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Safiya achieve her career goals:
The master’s program sharpened my analytical skills in evaluation of policies and their execution. This has enabled me to be able to identify niches and opportunities in development programs and interventions in the economy.
How the capstone project helped Safiya prepare for her work after graduation:
There were numerous challenges and lessons learned during my capstone project. The most important lesson is that one must not take any situation for granted. For example, I took my interviews for granted on the premise that I have been working with my key informants on the project, only to be faced with ever changing schedules and cancellations of appointments that characterize meetings with our public officials. That cost me a lot. The other lesson was in challenges related to technology as our internet connectivity can be very unreliable. And, most of all I discovered that I have been a bad time manager all along. Well, all that is changing very fast now!
Safiya’s favorite aspects of the program:
I learned a great deal participating in the field trips and practical demonstrations during the in person summer terms of the master’s program. These provided me with a whole different and refreshing experience in the fields of study. The entire program was exciting for me and I miss it – reminiscences motivate me to carry on.
Eliot Jones '14
Current position: Title 16 Claims Specialist
Organization: Social Security Administration
Location: Denver, CO
Capstone Project: Market Opportunities for New Hampshire Seafood
Testimonial: “This master’s program has helped me to share ideas and interact with different types of people effectively which has greatly helped me in my current position.”
Prior to enrolling in the master’s program, I served in the Peace Corps in Peru from 2010 to 2012.
Why Eliot was attracted to the program:
What attracted me most to this master’s program is the variety of students it attracts.
Eliot's current position and responsibilities:
In my current position, I conduct investigative interviews regarding initial applications and post-entitlement issues for Supplemental Social Security Income cases (needs-based program).
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Eliot achieve his career goals:
This master’s program has helped me to share ideas and interact with different types of people effectively which has greatly helped me in my current position.
How the capstone project helped Eliot prepare for his work after graduation:
The most effective skills I learned while carrying out my capstone project were how to efficiently manage my time and to creatively meet the inevitable in and out challenges of a hands-on design through monitoring/evaluation project process.
Eliot's favorite aspects of the program:
I enjoyed the professors and the other students in the program immensely.
Welland Sales '15
Current position: Regional Director
Organization: Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc.
Capstone Project: Providing Microfinance for Indigenous People in Lake Sebu (Philippines)
Testimonial: "The program has enhanced my ability to think independently, outside of my comfort zone, and helped me to develop clear insights in my field of expertise, especially within community development projects."
I completed my undergraduate study at Colegio de San Sebastian with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce Major in Management. Upon graduation, I started working with CARD, Inc. - a Microfinance NGO founded in the San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines. I have been connected with this Institution since 2003 as Account Officer and then in 2005 I became a Branch Manager. I was assigned as Technical Assistant for Microfinance and Savings program in Semarang, Indonesia through CARD/Bank Purba/TPR Partnership from 2006 to 2009; promoted as Area Manager in 2009 and became Regional Director in 2012 which is my current position. I’m currently responsible for the province of South Cotabato, SOCCSKSARGEN Region in Mindanao Philippines.
Why Welland was attracted to the program:
This Master’s programs evolved my visions as a community/social development practitioner in a Global development sense through an integrated and holistic learning approach. It helped me to understand the world of development in various aspects and formations.
Welland's current position and responsibilities:
My basic responsibility as Regional Director is to assist and directly report to the Operations Director in the effective and efficient implementation of the program at respective areas of coverage (including 32 branches with 5 areas and 137 total manpower), hire required staff as per approved plan, and; monitor staff productivity, quality of outputs and support appropriate action for those not in compliance with the institution’s policies.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Welland achieve his career goals:
This master’s program helped me to advance my knowledge and skills in my chosen field. It has also enhanced my ability to think independently, outside of my comfort zone, and helped me to develop clear insights in my field of expertise, especially within community development projects.
How the capstone project helped Welland prepare for his work after graduation:
It is really important to know where the community problem came from and how it affects their daily living. Designing and implementing a project is a tough one. Providing a solution to the problem is not enough – a sustainable, long term solution is a must. Every day is a learning process – your goals and objectives will guide you from the project idea through implementation and to its future development. The most important things that I learned are seeing people in the community giving their passion, best smile, best time and commitments to make the project succeed because it is really their project.
Welland's favorite aspects of the program:
I like the program’s combination of online and face-to-face learning. It allows me time to focus on my studies and also continue to do my job at work. I also enjoy and feel comfortable with schoolmates mingling from different races and countries. All the professors/instructors and coordinators were very supportive and very hands-on – helping you to complete your coursework, project, and other assignments. I also appreciated the field activities like team building, educational tours and class bonding opportunities which really enhanced my ability to communicate with others and expand my outside friendships.
Julia Curtis '14
Current position: Regional Services Manager, Community Programs
Organization: Australian Red Cross
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Capstone Project: Matter Circular Head Financial Literacy Project (Australia)
Testimonial: “This program has absolutely positioned me for my second career and I cannot thank the University faculty and support staff enough for their levels of expertise and dedication.”
Prior to enrolling in the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice program, I had worked at regional, state and national scales with government, private sector start-ups and not for profit organisations on policy development, program design and program implementation. My experience includes development of economic, social and environmental projects and quite a bit of work around data gathering and data communication.
Why Julia was attracted to the program:
For me, undertaking study with UNH in the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice program marked the start of my second career and to do this I needed an immersive experience with reference points to a range of practitioners. The Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice delivered this in spades! I greatly enjoyed the interactive opportunities afforded by the two summer terms and the opportunities to learn from both lecturers and fellow students. The power of this emerging international network of new and existing practitioners provides a powerful base for working with communities worldwide.
Julia's current position and responsibilities:
I manage a team of community development staff delivering Australian Red Cross community programs in Bridgewater Tasmania, a community which is subject to the highest levels of inequality in Tasmania and is amongst the lowest twenty-five percent of disadvantaged communities Australia wide. The reason why I am working with the Australian Red Cross is because we work with communities to build resilience and avenues for social inclusion.
My team at Red Cross in Bridgewater is particularly focused on enabling the space for important community conversations around family violence and is piloting programs under the banner of Place Based and Before the Harm (RespectEd). We also work with frail, elderly, socially isolated people providing home alarms, transport and social supports through a range of volunteer led programs. My team is also working with Prisoners (Mentors in Violence Prevention) and with Parents and Families engaging with the Child Protection System through the Parents and Families Advocacy Service.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Julia achieve her career goals:
I have had huge adventures in the community development space since I completed theMaster of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice in 2014. Prior to my last UNH summer school I resigned from my sensible government job and started up a one woman consulting business, opened the doors and worked across Tasmania with a wide range of community organisations. In the first four months I also nearly landed a major UN contract – so this early risk taking behaviour helped set me up for my current role.
To enable the activities of a backbone facilitating group in a collective impact space means you have to understand the dynamics of the community you are working in – extremely well. This is where the program comes in – the analytical paradigm of the Master’s program has been hugely useful to support the watching and listening that is needed to get to the issues at the heart of matters that are important to a community. It’s from that space we can collaboratively build solutions to move forward.
How the capstone project helped Julia prepare for her work after graduation:
The capstone project helped me learn patience. I had multiple unanticipated things happen while working on the project including leaving Tasmania to take up a job in Canberra.
Julia's favorite aspects of the program:
The breadth of subject matter that we covered and the range of experiences available to students of the program. This program has absolutely positioned me for my second career and I cannot thank the University Faculty and support staff enough for their levels of expertise and dedication.
Lina Bowden '12
Current position: Founder
Organization: Cambia Development Foundation
Location: London, Ontario Canada (and Chiclayo, Peru)
Capstone Project: Santa Angela Center: Restaurant & Youth Training Center (Chiclayo, Peru)
Testimonial: “The core of the program was the personalized attention we received in our applied field projects. This 14-month process gave us a valuable toolkit that meets the gold standard in project management, from design to evaluation methodologies.”
Prior to enrolling in the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice, I was an executive with an investment management company, leading the Market and Product Development. I was an engaged community volunteer, serving on boards and committees locally. I also had volunteered for more than 10 years with a charity that supported development projects in Northern Peru. I was a CPA (Chartered Public Accountant).
Why Lina was attracted to the program:
I wanted to shift gears from the corporate world into the development sector (domestic and international) with a focus on how I could apply my Finance skills to create change. I was attracted to the holistic approach to development and the learning that the program provides across sectors (health, environment, agriculture, finance, etc) and the opportunity to be guided through a full development project. I was also looking for a program that blended residential in-class components as well as distance studies.
Lina's current position and responsibilities:
I am the founder of our regional work to launch a social finance program that works collaboratively with 5 community groups (our local foundation, United Way, Pillar Nonprofit Network, a regional credit union and a religious community). We have received funding from the province of Ontario to launch a social enterprise loan fund and develop a place-based social finance framework.
In addition I have been co-leader of a project to launch a 32,000 square foot social innovation shared space that provides space and programming for nonprofits, charities, coops, social enterprises as well as entrepreneurs and local post-secondary institutions to promote collaborations and innovation that spark change.
Finally, I am continuing to support Santa Angela Centre in Peru, as a volunteer consultant for their social enterprise; this was my Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice project.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Julia achieve her career goals:
Overall – the master’s program has been very important in helping me achieve the impacts that I have been a part of.
This master’s program provided me with a foundational understanding of microfinance and community development finance (through the Sustainable Microfinance and Development Program and Michael Swack’s courses) and social enterprise, which have been my primary areas of work since leaving UNH.
At a practical level, learning about logic models and evaluation frameworks has been very useful. The Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice also expanded my knowledge and understanding of global challenges in creating development programming. The program helped me develop and frame my own theory of change and the type of work I want to do at this stage of my life.
How the capstone project helped Lina prepare for her work after graduation:
The actual capstone project framework we learned by having the practical hands-on experience of designing, implementing and evaluating a development project was the most important aspect of the capstone project. The framework was important to learn, even if it was challenging to see it all become real. Time is always a factor, but it was good to learn how to create up front metrics to be used in evaluation, rather than waiting until the end only to find no tracking was in place to properly evaluate the project.
Lina’s favorite aspects of the program:
The most enjoyable aspect was the connection and interaction with my classmates. I enjoyed getting to know them all and feeling like a family who shared a personal vision to make a difference even though we arrived with completely different skills, strengths and professional goals.
Deolito Valdemar '14
Location: San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines
Testimonial: "The master’s in Community Development Policy and Practice has reinvigorated my strong desire to help people and continue my life changing work in community development."
Deolito's current position and responsibilities:
I am working for the internationally known and largest Microfinance organization in the Philippines – Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) as its Deputy Director for Legal and Security Operations. I am responsible for legal related needs or concerns of the institutions I represent. As I am a Reserved Officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the security job for CARD MRI was also entrusted to me.
Why Deolito was attracted to the program:
The study of global trends in development work, the interdisciplinary approach to meet the course objectives, the opportunity to work and earn a master’s degree at the same time, and the combination of on-campus and online learning—all of these are the reasons I was attracted to the program.
How the Master of Arts Community Development Policy and Practice program helped Deolito achieve his career goals:
The academic exposure to global problems and different approaches and trends in community development has opened my eyes a lot more. The master’s in Community Development Policy and Practice has reinvigorated my strong desire to help people and continue my life changing work in community development.
How the capstone project helped Deolito prepare for his work after graduation:
My project’s goal was to provide safe and reliable lighting to low income people living in remote villages in the Philippines. This renewable source of solar lighting replaces gas lamps that release toxic fumes into homes, poses a fire hazard, and requires the ongoing purchase of kerosene. Our solar lamps are safe to use and are affordable for people with very low incomes through our low-cost payment plans. I learned that by solving one problem, there are often many other benefits that can be realized, which in the case of my project included extending family socialization time at night, increasing study time for children, and because the units can provide power in addition to light, can be used for profit-generating activities and other household electric needs. By working on one problem wholeheartedly—presto—we can create impact in the lives of the poor.
Deolito's favorite aspects of the program:
New and higher learning are what I enjoyed most of all. Studying in a foreign land in a different school with vastly different teaching methods and getting to know students from all over the world with different cultures and backgrounds really added flavor to the learning experience.
A sample of recent graduates now work in the following positions and organizations:
- Vice President of Community Investments, St. David's Foundation, Texas, USA
- President, Terra Green CDC, California, USA
- Executive Director, Immigrant Women's Health, Maine, USA
- Environmental Analyst, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), Massachusetts, USA
- Program Director, Community Impact Associates, Massachusetts, USA
- Writer and Producer of Cultural Nepal, Acton TV, Massachusetts, USA
- Director of Cultural Competency and Global Diversity, Hun School of Princeton, New Jersey, USA
- Policy Analyst, Oregon Center for Public Policy, Oregon, USA
- Regional Services Manager, Australian Red Cross
- Community Finance Consultant, Community Empowerment Solutions, Guatemala
- Chair, Poverty Impact Council, United Way, Canada
- Founder, Cambia Development Foundation, Canada
- Director, Paso Pacifico, Nicaragua
- CEO/Senior Consultant, Inclusive Access Synergy Limited, Nigeria
- Regional Director, Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Philippines
- Depurty Directory for Legal and Security Operations, CARD Bank, Inc., Philippines
- Legislative Aide, State of Alaska, Alaska, USA
- Regional Refugee Coordinator, Kansas Department of Children and Families, Kansas, USA
- Learning Manager, Development Academy of the Philippines, Philippines