The Women of Peace Corps Legacy is pleased to award the 2019 Deborah Harding Award to Sue Richiedei!
Sue has dedicated her 35-year career to ensuring women are meaningfully engaged in greater numbers as leaders, decision makers, and advocates at all levels. As a 22-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer in 1976 in northeast Thailand, Sue understood the importance of improving the lives of girls in a male-dominated society. She has dedicated her life to training, advocacy, and reproductive health service delivery projects throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She has helped thousands of women find and use their voice to influence change. She has designed and conducted hundreds of workshops for women, helping them to create a better future for themselves and others.
Sue founded Counterpart International's WomenLead Institute (WLI) where she currently serves as senior director. The Institute focuses on women-centered programming across multiple technical areas, highlighting the leadership, confidence building, and managerial skills women need to advance. The WomenLead Institute has directly reached over 6,000 participants. In 2005, Sue designed and launched the "Global Women in Management Program" (GWIM), which is now in its 15th year and has reached over 1,000 women in 77 countries with month-long leadership workshops, woman-to-woman coaching, networking, and small grants. GWIM alumnae work with local NGOs that implement women's economic and entrepreneurship programs in their local communities, reaching tens of thousands of women and youth, often the most marginalized with skills and resources for financial security. The program also supports national and regional alumnae coaches who provide personal and professional guidance to younger graduates of WomenLead workshops for a year after their workshops end.
Through the Alumnae Network Program, Sue and her team provide technical support to alumnae to adapt and step-down women’s leadership and economic skills training to women in their local communities. Following the WLI model, the alumnae then serve as coaches and mentors to the women who graduate from their workshops. These networks have delivered leadership and entrepreneurship skills training to hundreds of rural women in Liberia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, and Papua New Guinea. New alumnae networks are forming in Nigeria, Guyana, and Ghana.
The women who have been part of Sue's programs speak of how much Sue has impacted and influenced their lives. Many of them now hold executive leadership positions in government, civil society, and private sectors. Lucy, a former participant and co-facilitator from Ghana said: “she is the one who really made me look out for women in all the programs I have handled since knowing her. Her sole aim is to help women progress, and this has rubbed off on me greatly.”
Another example of Sue's influence can be seen in Savitri’s story. An alumna and coach from India, Savitri shares that “I always felt that Sue was keeping an eye on areas where I needed support for my further growth… I started progressing in both my personal as well as professional roles. I felt stronger in communication skills, more articulate, and confident. My enhanced technical and managerial skills started showing results. I applied for a higher position in a U.K.-based NGO and become Country Director for their office in India.”
Savitri was promoted to higher positions and now is also a guest lecturer at three universities and serves on the board of several renowned civil society organizations in India. She says “Sue still remains my friend in need, a philosopher and a most reliable guide. This is from the same vulnerable woman, who once had no courage to look beyond the position of community worker. I am grateful to Sue, for very strongly holding the ladder of my success.”
Sue will be presented the award during the annual Peace Corps Connect conference, June 20-22, 2019 in Austin, Texas. Learn more and register here.