Interview by Danny Brown, Media/Communications Intern
Morgan McDonald joined eA one month ago as the new Operations & Program Intern. She is halfway through her two-year Master’s Program at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Now that she is well into her internship, we wanted to profile Morgan for you to learn more about our Team.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
I am from Seattle, Washington. Though, not born and raised. I grew up in Kenya, where my parents worked for a larger NGO. That experience instilled that first knowledge of what it means to live cross-culturally and interact with people who live very different experiences than I do. That started me off at a very young age and guided me through a lot of decisions and my path in life.
What did you study in undergrad?
For undergrad, I went to Seattle Pacific University where I studied Sociology and Women’s Studies – again, finding those intersectionalities between culture and gender and looking into that idea of people having experiences that are different end up projecting who they are and where they go in life. With that passion, I found myself again in the world of international and development work. I then moved to Nairobi, Kenya again where I worked for a larger legal aid NGO called International Justice Mission.
As an adult, I saw that world of international work through a different lens. I interacted with people who were doing great work both within their own cultures and then people who were doing it outside of their own cultures and experiences. That led me to get a Master’s Degree and focus on international development. How do organizations and people work towards a similar goal of assisting people to live the best lives they can through health, education, and lived experiences?
And you’re currently in graduate school, right?
I am currently at DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies pursuing a Master’s in International Development, with a concentration in Global Health. The idea of wanting to focus on Global Health is that I truly believe health is a very basic need that everyone should have the right to. I look at development through the lens of health. How do we ensure that people have the proper access to health care? It’s derived through the bottom line of development work. That leads me to where I am right now working with eA.
How did you come into contact with eA?
Kind of by coincidence at first. I happened upon eA’s website through a random search on the DU Korbel website. Some of the keywords that popped out to me were Global Health and Humanitarian Aid. This idea that eA partners with other organizations was a really interesting model. It is refreshing to see an organization that highlights what other people are doing, and that’s what drew my eye to eA originally.
And, I had Neena as a professor in my Spring Quarter at DU. She taught Global Health & Human Rights, a course where we really dissected a human rights-based approach to Global Health. I got to know Neena on a more academic side through that class and understand where eA comes from, based on her experiences in the field. That’s how I ended up pursuing an internship.
Why did eA spark your interest? What about the partnership model is interesting to you?
First and foremost, the methodology that stems from the heart of eA of listening to partners is key. All of the partners are already doing great work in the local setting. From listening to what the partners need
, coming from their experiences, to how assisting in those needs could further maximize the ultimate impact that they are already making. I am really drawn to that model of not coming in to simply tell them what they need, but flipping that around. Let’s make this a partnership that will be lasting for you as a partner, and you will flourish even after we step away. That’s the model of development and partnership that I really appreciate.
“The Highlights and Portfolio sections are
up and running, so check them out!”
Why does that stand out to you?
I think having grown up in the world of international development work and learning about it again in classes and a real-world setting, people often forget the first step of listening. They seethings through their own lens and assume what people and organizations need – I’ve seen this first hand. In reality, the organizations and people themselves actually know what they need and what would be helpful. Having seen that, eA resonates with me. I can get jaded at the work of development because of how often development can be done with good intentions but in all the wrong ways. Having that in the back of my mind, seeing a model like eA’s resonates with me.
What have you been doing with eA?
The first project I’ve been doing has been really exciting. We have been re-doing the content on our website. eA has been around for over 3 years, so I have been tasked with revamping certain aspects of the website to make them more concise. Can we outline things in a simpler way, or with an infographic? We want to enhance the work that we’re doing and the progress we’ve made. It’s been challenging in the fact that I’m not a website developer by any means, but the content-side of the project has been a great creative and challenging project. I have taken every word on our website and sifted through it, and filtered it to make it more concise. I’ve got my creative juices flowing. The Highlights and Portfolio sections are up and running, so check them out!
The second project that I’m doing is with a current partner. I will be researching very specific international health indicators to use for their next round of data collection. One of the aspects of the model that eA is doing with this partner is Monitoring & Evaluation. With that comes a lot of data collection – which they have some of, but they are needing to revamp. We are assisting them to look at what other international standards are for these specific programs that they are wanting to implement. We are helping them use that to cite very specific indicators through their data to describe their outcomes and impact.
That sounds awesome.
It should be good!
Last question: how do you envision your career in this field going? What kind of things do you want to do?
Ultimately, I would love to work in the Global Health field working on the policy and advocacy side of helping enhance other people’s experiences through health. I think everyone should have acc
ess to the very basic need of health. I want to be a part of making that happen, whether it’s creating systems, supporting systems that are already in place, or just making sure people are actually receiving and understanding health care. That’s where I see myself going. I think this work with eA has helped shape my mindset and vocabulary around that – of being part of someone else’s experience through their own lens. We’ll see what happens!
Learn more about Our Team here.