Challenges of Leading a Small Development Organization in Odisha, India, That Seeks to Empower Women Through Enterprise Activities


Gretchen Alther, Nina Dutra & Christina Monroe

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    Gretchen Alther is an international educator and development professional with 15 years of experience helping diverse communities identify and implement critical actions to address crises, enhance resilience, and impact future scenarios. She co-directs the East–West Center’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program and also develops and manages programs for emerging and established female-community leaders from the Pacific Islands. Gretchen is a member of Human Rights Education Associates, for which she designs and develops e-learning courses for senior international humanitarian and development professionals. As an occasional consultant with the Earthwatch Institute, she facilitates sustainability leadership programs around the world for corporate managers and executives. Prior to joining the East–West Center, Gretchen designed and managed programs to support disaster relief, conflict zone aid, and resilience in marginalized communities in the US, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, Gaza, Colombia, Haiti, and beyond. She earned an MA in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, a postgraduate certificate from the East–West Center (APLP G12), and a BA in Latin American Studies and Natural Resources Management from Texas A&M University. Gretchen is intrigued by the processes of problem solving and critical decision-making. She does her best thinking during long-distance runs.

    Focal Areas: Gender and women in leadership; grassroots and community leadership; cognition and problem solving; writing to learn; evaluating adult, cohort learning outcomes

    Nina Dutra manages the administrative and admissions processes of the East&–West Center’s various Leadership Programs, which include the Asia Pacific Leadership Programs, Pacific Islands Leadership Program with Taiwan, Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program, Myanmar Futures Exchange, Advanced Leadership Program, MARA Leadership Transition Program and other customized offerings. She completed a BA in Behavioral Sciences (Phi Beta Kappa) at Drew University, a MA in Social Anthropology of Development (Distinction) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management at Duke University. Prior to joining the East&–West Center, Nina worked with the Monterey Institute of International Studies (Monterey, California), the Self-Employed Women’s Association (New Delhi, India), the Office of Strategic Partnerships at the New York City Department of Education (New York, New York), and Family Promise (Summit, New Jersey). Nina has conducted research on a wide range of topics including reintegration issues for female ex-combatants in Eritrea, Muslim women’s rights on the Swahili coast, and civil-military coordination in humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

    Focal Areas: Economic development; women’s health; operations; fiscal management; relationship management

    Christina Monroe is an international leadership educator, curriculum designer and program manager with 15 years’ experience working with professionals and students from more than 50 countries. She has won over $5 million in grants from the US State Department, Corporation for National Service, and National Education Association to develop international and experiential programs for several institutions. She currently directs the Institutes on Environment for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative launched by President Barack Obama. Since 2009 she has led fourteen Study of the US Institutes for 300 emerging leaders from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Brazil and Russia with funding from the US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She previously co-directed the East&–West Center’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program and since 2005 has served various roles for the program including US Field Study Director and Professional Development Instructor. While Chair of the Sustainability Task Force, she led the East&–West Center’s successful bid to be the first green-certified educational institution in the state. She is certified in International Organization for Standardization sustainability reporting by the Global Reporting Initiative and was featured in Hawaii Green Magazine’s article “Six People You Need to Know.” Christina is certified by Georgetown University as an Organizational Consultant and uses this knowledge to design curriculum and teach on organizational development and change leadership. Her past research in the US and Europe focused on cognitive development during international exchange experiences and on ethnic and gender self-identification in foreign settings. Her current work focuses on personal prototyping and foresight in the Anthropocene.

    Focal Areas: Human-environment relationship; organizational development and change leadership; personal prototyping and action planning; network development; foresighting

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