This post was contributed by Andrea Johnson, Green Empowerment’s Executive Director.This Monday, February 27th, marked my one year anniversary as the Executive Director of Green Empowerment. In my first year, Green Empowerment experienced growth, overcame challenges and laid the foundation for a strong future and new opportunities.Looking back now, that first day was definitely an indication of the year to follow. It was a whirlwind! Starting with the basics (logging into my new computer), it quickly transitioned into tackling immediate needs (getting to know the team, building a budget and planning for my first board meeting just one week later). Then, it ended with Development Drinks and a chance to represent the organization in my new role. The combination of diverse tasks, strategic conversations, stories from the field, engaging with supporters and leading through asking hard questions has kept me both incredibly busy and extremely motivated!After dealing with the challenges of leadership transition, Green Empowerment was in a unique situation when I started. Fortunately, our strong partnerships and amazing field staff insulated our core programs throughout the transition period. I arrived at an organization with a rich history, effective field staff, an impressive track record, financial stability and impactful ongoing projects. The challenges I encountered were primarily internal, and I was relieved to find that the team and board were motivated to work through the transition, passionate about our mission and excited to welcome new leadership.
I worked with our existing staff, recruited awesome volunteers and secured pro-bono services to expand our capacity, prioritize organizational activities, work through strategic discussions and fill operational gaps. Additionally, we added a strong program manager to our team in Portland, secured funding for a Nicaragua Project Coordinator, celebrated our founder Michael Royce’s 70th Birthday and recruited several new board members who are eager to support our work and be strong ambassadors for the organization.During my first year, Green Empowerment worked with local partners to delivering renewable energy, clean water, improved cookstoves and sanitation facilities to over 11,000 people and secured over $710,000 in new project funding. While these continued advancements in program delivery are key to our mission, we also made notable improvements in our organization that will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact. We enhanced our program monitoring and evaluation, engaged in thoughtful, forward-thinking strategic discussions and kicked off exciting new initiatives, including GlobalPDX. GlobalPDX is an expansion of activities initiated by Green Empowerment over the last several years. It aims to increase the effectiveness and impact of the Oregon-based international development community through collaborations, coordinated research, mentorships, trainings, and networking.As I look forward to the year to come, I am excited to celebrate our 20th Anniversary this fall and help lead Green Empowerment into our next 20 years! As we look to the future, we recognize that the global context in which we do our work has changed over the years. There are new technologies, private investments and different approaches being deployed to deliver clean water and renewable energy to rural communities around the world. Within this changing landscape, Green Empowerment has stayed true to our values while leveraging our expertise working at the intersection of technology solutions and community development. We have an important role to play in supporting local leaders and rural communities in being the drivers of their own development. I believe that our approach of working with local partners to implement projects and ensuring community engagement and benefit throughout our programs is a critical contribution to the international development field. It is a privilege to lead this amazing organization and I am so excited to see what adventures year two will bring.