Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big lights will inspire you...

My work at Catalyst has kicked into higher gear now that I’ve been here for a few weeks and have started to get the hang of the office. The work is nothing like anything I’ve ever done—even though Catalyst is a nonprofit, and has a very mission-driven approach, Advisory Services, the department within which I’m housed has almost a private-sector feel. This surprised me, especially at first, since I’ve never worked in a consulting capacity before. Even though the work is mission-driven, and every client we take on is working towards diversity and inclusion approach, at the end of the day, each client has its specific goals, capacities, and deadlines. Very different from policy studies—but Kennedy emphasizes being tri-sector experienced, and I certainly feel like I’m gaining a lot through this kind of interaction.

The team has a big deadline/presentation coming up, so we’ve all been working hard to prepare. This is great for me—I get to see the end result and hear the feedback. At the same time, another project is starting as well, so I’ll get to see the beginning, too. In fact, I participated in a focus group the other day which yielded fascinating results with regards to how women employees saw their career prospects vs. men. The groups’ results will be the starting point for another engagement.

I’m also starting up my own project, which is exciting and the reason why I was so keen on joining Catalyst in the first place. As emerging markets become more and more important for Catalyst members, the Advisory Services team is taking a more global approach to its practices. I’m specifically tasked with researching, thinking about, interviewing and doing outreach on and about how women’s networks could work within a Latin American context. While the project is slow-going, it’s been very interesting as there is really very little out there on this topic. The project presents a real opportunity not only to serve Catalyst members but also explore a new topic area. I hope to be able to produce a white paper before I leave in August, as well as kick –start Catalyst relationships in the area by leveraging both the knowledge we build and my Spanish language skills.

Monday, June 14, 2010

These streets will make you feel brand new...

I'm constantly amazed at just how much life there is here. Even though I'm not doing any foreign travel this summer, as many of my fellow WAPPPers are, New York is new enough to me that I feel each day brings something of a surprise. Whether it's a new neighborhood, a restaurant, an art festival, there's always something going on...and I'm trying to take advantage of it (without going broke in the process...).

Yet even as I'm discovering new things, the days have settled into a comfortable routine. The pictures below give a little bit of a sense of what daily life is like, at least on the Manhattan side of the bridge.

My office building is right at the tip of Wall St., where it hits South St.

The Statue of Liberty is just a few blocks down...

Manhattan, seen from Governor's Island...

Stay tuned for pictures from BK.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Still Holding Up That Sky

This post has little to do with New York or my work with Catalyst, other than the fact that for the past week or so, during the commute between my lovely apartment in Park Slope and the hustle and bustle of Wall St., I’ve been immersed in Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky. I finished this morning…and I’m at a loss at what to do next. So, I did what any at-a-loss American would do: I opened my wallet. You may have noticed the new “badge” at the bottom of this page. This morning I funded medical supplies to safely deliver pregnant women's children in the DRC through Global Giving. Even for someone on a tight student budget, it’s possible to make just a tiny dent in the world, to try to make it just a little bit better for someone else. I am so inspired (and honestly, put to shame) by the women leaders profiled in this book. I know that--as a person studying the nexus of gender and policy!--I can and want to do more—so if you have more ideas, please send them my way!

For now, fellow students, now that you get to actually choose your reading material (the best perk of not being in school, in my opinion), please, please, please, buy, borrow, beg, or take out a copy of Half the Sky from your local library. If it doesn’t absolutely convince you that the path to increased opportunity, living standards, and yes, economic prosperity (I am interning on Wall St.) lies in the hands of women—and push you to do something about it---I will buy your copy of the book from you. Or donate to Global Giving in your name. Your choice.

For more about the book, read the NYT Sunday Magazine article here.

If pictures are worth 1000 words to you, take a look at the photo gallery here.

To check out ways you can give back, help combat illiteracy, maternal mortality, sexual slavery and forced prostitution and promote women and girls’ education and empowerment in every sense of the word, check out any of the following websites: Global Giving, Apne Aap, Kiva, Care, 34 Million Friends, Global Fund for Women, Equality Now, Tostan, Vital Voices, Fistula Foundation, the Polaris Project, Girls Inc., and many, many more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Now you're in New York...

Moved into my new apartment yesterday (thanks, JJ!). It’s in a great location, in the heart of Park Slope, Brooklyn. I wanted to be here mainly so I could be close to my sister, who’s a few short blocks away, and for the relatively easy commute (not to mention, more affordable rent!). I share the space with two other girls, both NYU Law students, who both seem very nice. One thing I was not prepared for: the size of the apartment. My room is lovely and thankfully, fits all of my belongings (read: clothes, books and shoes), but the living space/kitchen is quite small (and I love to cook). It will take some getting used to—I have definitely been spoiled by my wonderfully spacious Porter Square apartment.

My first day at Catalyst was today and I was pleasantly surprised to find some familiar names—mainly, professors, researchers and writers with whom I’ve become familiar over the past year. Catalyst runs a daily service called “Daily News,” which compiles all of the gender-relevant media of the day. It was great to see my former professor Barbara Kellerman’s piece on the list. What was not so pleasant was reading the comments afterwards. It is disheartening to read comments about how the real problem is women getting to too many management positions or how there’s really no problem at all, women and men are just different. Frustrating—and one of the things Catalyst is working to change.

For now, no big projects to report, as today was spent mostly in orientations and getting to meet people around the office. There’s a big project due this week that is allowing for a “all-hands-on-deck” that will afford some visibility into some of the larger project goals for the summer. I’m hoping to really dig into some substantive work this summer and to get a better understanding of how not only the private sector works, but how we can mainstream gender and gender-aware practices into organizational culture.