This spring alum Rashmi Singh received the University of Minnesota's Distinguished International Leadership Award for her work in the poorest neighborhoods of New Delhi. In acceptance of this award, Rashmi returned to the University of Minnesota as a visiting CIL Fellow from October 31 - November 4, 2011.
She spent the week not only meeting with faculty and staff from the Humphrey and Carlson Schools, but also inspiring current UMN students. She had a full schedule of discussions with students within the Women in Public Policy and Global Public Policy concentrations, the Humphrey International Fellows, and current Master of Public Affairs candidates.
After her award ceremony on November 3rd, Rashmi joined the CIL student leadership team for dinner and more discussion.
Here were some of the Student Leadership Team's reflections from the conversation:
On Mission Convergence
The conversation about Mission Convergence broadened my knowledge about social change. It was interesting to consider that the program is government-based yet now provides 6 million people with access to needed services. Despite the problems with corruption, the program was shaped and intended to be a bridge within the current Indian political system. Although a difficult and high-risk effort, Ms. Singh and those associated with the project acknowledged how valuable these services were for many citizens, especially women. Perseverance and transparency were obviously key components to the programs success. According to Ms. Singh, NGO's were skeptical about working alongside government; however, through genuine and difficult conversations, key stakeholders were convinced to proceed with Mission Convergence.
On key learnings from Mission Convergence about cross-sector work
Communication is key. Transparent communication is not easy, but if a project has many stakeholders with different perspectives it is important to have open and honest communication, even when there is heavy opposition.
Perseverance is critical. Working towards social change is incredibly difficult and can seem like and overwhelming task, but by working day to day and trying to not get bogged down in the massive undertaking, project owners can be successful.
In the day-to-day work, it was also obvious that intelligent planning and identification of root causes was important for building and delivering a program that would create the biggest impact.
Passion was the last key factor to success. It was obvious that those involved in Mission Convergence were extremely passionate about the program's success and worked diligently to do everything in their power to allow the program to be successful.
On Integrative Leadership
The comments Rashmi made about integrative leadership that stand out to me were about taking large challenges one day at a time, even if the obstacles are multi-layered and multifaceted. Although her experience has led to a lot of change in a short period of time, her advice recognizes that much of this multidimensional change takes a long time. Patience yet perseverance. I also recall her saying multiple times that you cannot do everything alone. She looked to trustworthy partners from day one to help her make progress toward her community's goals.