Accountability Lab is excited to welcome six talented interns to our teams in Liberia, Nepal and the US this summer! We are proud of the mission-driven actions plans, creative content and daily support these interns have contributed to the Lab. Because it can be challenging to visualize what accountability means in action, we’ve asked each of them to share what accountability means to them and how they apply it to their professional and personal lives. Take a moment to read through their comments and be inspired.
“One of the first things that really drew me to the Lab was how our model strives to inspire accountability as opposed to simply imposing it. In the face of widespread corruption, there is certainly a place for holding power-holders accountable, but the Lab goes beyond this by empowering citizens – particularly youth – to build accountability from the ground up in their homes, schools, and communities. In this way, I believe the Lab will change the dialogue about transparency, and build a new generation of more accountable leaders.
One thing I am doing to demonstrate accountability in my own life is holding myself accountable to my commitments. When we leave the office and go to sleep at night, there are still people whose basic needs have not been met. This reality makes it easy to overcommit in hopes of doing more good and reaching more people, but at some point, this becomes counterproductive. I want to be accountable to myself, my colleagues, and the citizens we serve by fulfilling my commitments to the best of my abilities.”
Ashley is currently pursuing an MPA in Development Practice at Columbia University SIPA. A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer with a communications background, she believes in working with locally-driven, grassroots movements to effect positive change.
“Having seen the barriers to development and economic stability in countries where corruption was systemic and toxic, I developed an interest in development models that focus on community education and community-supported solutions. I believe that the Lab’s programs, which are community-led and focused on personal growth, are building the foundation for sustainable, transparent development.
Since I advocate for, and talk quite a bit about transparency and integrity in my professional life, I wanted to find a way to integrate it into my personal life through one of my favorite sports: running. I found an organization in my community called Mile in My Shoes that supports and empowers individuals struggling with homelessness, and I volunteer my time to give meaningful opportunities to marginalized individuals in my community.”
Colleen is an international affairs professional, project strategist, and relationship builder, with work experience in Azerbaijan, Russia and China; an avid ultra marathoner and rock climber; and an aspiring diplomat.
“I’m beyond excited to work for Accountability Lab because I feel that there is no better way to move forward or make a positive impact than through efforts rooted in accountability and integrity. In light of recent events and the tragic earthquakes, Nepal is facing a lot of changes and promoting greater accountability is of more importance than ever before. It takes a group of bold, courageous, and passionate people to make a positive impact and that is just the kind of work the Lab is doing. As a filmmaker and storyteller, I am particularly drawn to the Lab’s film school and believe in the power of film as both a motivator and as a way to keep people engaged.
One of the ways in which I try to live out accountability in my own day-to-day life is to be open, honest, and transparent in all my interactions and encounters with others.”
Grace, a recent Communications graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is motivated by stories, design, and good light. She has traveled across the the world and made films about birth control, shadow puppetry, MMA fighters, and fast food culture, and more.
“As a photographer and a filmmaker, I’m especially drawn to the work that the Lab has been doing to strengthen the voices of Liberian artists—including young filmmakers, painters and musicians.
By working with the Lab, I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for the challenges faced by creative people in Liberia. Art supplies are limited and sometimes non-existent, and children who are interested in the arts are frequently discouraged from pursuing a path that many of their elders consider foolish and without value. I’m proud to be working for an organization that supports a few of the very rare Liberian organizations that are focused on building up the country’s community of artists.”
Jim has experience working for National Public Radio (NPR), News21 in Phoenix, The Dallas Morning News, and newspapers in Virginia and Pennsylvania. He has a Masters in Multimedia Photography & Design from Syracuse University.
“Every day, the media reports on corruption and discrimination in access to aid, and international donors’ inefficient use of resources. I sincerely believe that our work in Nepal will not only identify gaps in response but also help improve the situation.
So far, I’ve been impressed by how quickly the Lab has managed to mobilize volunteers to reach out to the earthquake-affected communities. The team has proven adaptable in the constantly changing context, which will ensure that our projects evolve in a way that benefits people the most.
I’m demonstrating accountability in my own life by making sure that the projects I embark on are created with active participation of the communities they are supposed to serve. In my daily work it translates into getting feedback on my work, making sure that all stakeholders are at the decision-making table, and that we plan ambitious projects that are informed by real needs.
Karolina is a graduate student at Columbia University SIPA pursuing an MPA in Development Practice. She has experience working for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, UNAIDS, Open Society Foundations’ Global Drug Policy Program, and Political Critique and MediaCom Warsaw in her home country, Poland.
“I am excited to work for Accountability Lab because its model focuses heavily on community engagement and grassroots partnerships. I believe accountability is a very important issue because it forms the foundation necessary for any democratic and equitable society. It strengthens government institutions and calls on citizens to hold one another responsible.
In my first few weeks of working with the Lab I have learned more about how to effectively work with local community organizations. I’ve learned how to best phrase questions and communicate with our partners, as well as how to overcome the challenges of working in Liberia.
In my own life I try to demonstrate accountability by speaking up when I see someone being treated unfairly. Speaking up helps start a dialogue about injustice, which in turn leads to a long-term focus on accountability.”
Meghan is pursuing a Masters of Public Diplomacy at Syracuse University, with a focus on international communications, post-conflict reconstruction, and humanitarian issues. She has experience working abroad in Bolivia, Chile, and Nepal.
Click here to learn about ways that you can get involved with Accountability Lab this fall.