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Announcing AWR’s New Board President and Executive Director’s Profile in Voyage LA

African Women Rising has a new Board President and Linda Eckerbom Cole has been featured in Voyage Los Angeles

Santa Barbara, CA: African Women Rising is pleased to announce Carrie Randolph has been elected as its new Board President. After six years of service as board president, Joy Margolis has stepped down from the leadership position and will continue to serve as a board member.

Randolph’s time on the AWR board and travel to Uganda to observe firsthand how the programs work influenced the board in selecting her as president. Her strong leadership abilities are reflected in her experience, including:

  • Seven years as Executive Director of Leading From Within, an organization providing leadership development for the nonprofit and social sector community with a network of over 400 local leaders from nonprofit organizations, philanthropic groups, government agencies, and private businesses;
  • Thirteen years in marketing for Patagonia, one of the nation’s leading businesses in social and corporate responsibility; and
  • Twenty years as a volunteer and board member for regional non-profit groups, including formerly as a board member for the Eleos Foundation which provides impact investments to pioneering business solutions to poverty. She is currently serving on the board of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and on the leadership team for Direct Relief Women.

Randolph holds a master’s degree in industrial/Organizational Development and Facilitation Certificate from Developmental Dimensions International. She was awarded the 2018 grand prize by the Ghana Permaculture Institute.

“I’ve followed AWR since its inception and am beyond impressed with the depths with which its has grown. I am honored to help to continue to steward the critical and vast impact it’s making to over 20,000 women and their families in Uganda.” – Carrie Randolph

Linda Eckerbom Cole and African Women Rising have been featured on the latest online edition of Voyage LA’s – LA’s Most Inspiring Stories.

Within this question and answer interview, Eckerbom Cole talks about her journey to creating African Women Rising and also details the mission of AWR itself. Photos by Brian Hodges are also featured within the article.

About African Women Rising:

African Women Rising (AWR) was established in 2006 to empower women affected by war by providing self-sustaining solutions that give hope and change lives. AWR’s vision is to build social, economic and political equality for women and girls in Africa. These underlying values are realized through programs that enable and empower women in the conflict-affected region of Northern Uganda to rebuild their lives through increased food production, natural resource management, financial security, and education. AWR’s approach is based on a belief, as well as firsthand experience, that when women are actively involved in decision-making, be it post-war reconstruction or small-scale civic responsibility, their voices ensure that vital societal priorities are incorporated.

Beginning with 5 groups of women (150 people) who were directly affected by the conflict in Northern Uganda 13 years ago, AWR has since grown to directly serve more than 9000 women and their households in 2018 as well as 6600 South Sudanese refugee households currently in Palabek refugee settlement. This expansion has been based on conversations with participants and the larger community, which led AWR to initiate adult literacy and girls’ education programs alongside its post-conflict recovery agricultural and microfinance efforts to help sustain and strengthen the peace.

AWR works with women’s groups in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda. The majority of the women are widows, formerly abducted women and girls, ex-combatants, girl mothers, orphans, HIV-positive, or grandmothers taking care of orphans. They are considered “extremely vulnerable” as they earn less than $1/day and are often marginalized or stigmatized on account of their status or background. Most have had very little if any formal education and lack access to sustained mentoring, training or material support.

Twenty years of war destroyed the agricultural capacity of Northern Uganda. Knowledge was lost, crops and animals were stolen, and land abandoned. Today, most African Women Rising women rely on agriculture as their main source of income and livelihood, yet due to the war, most never learned good agricultural skills. More than teaching techniques, AWR’s Resilience Design Field Crop and Permagarden programs are about sharing the principles behind water and soil management and developing a contextual understanding to design a system to be as productive and regenerative as possible. AWR’s programs have 24 different agroecology-focused indicators they track. The unfolding South Sudanese refugee situation has challenged us to implement this same approach in an emergency humanitarian setting.

AWR began its work in one of the world’s most aid-dependent regions. They have the long-term goal of shifting this paradigm from complete dependency to one of engagement and personal capacity. Rooted in the conviction that women should be active stakeholders in defining their own development strategies, AWR builds on initiatives that women themselves have started.

For refugees this means helping to rebuild the social fabric, personal capacity and financial strength of those displaced due to war. Most refugees arriving in Palabek camp have lost many of the friends and family structures that were relied upon previously for support. Apart from providing food for the family, as well as important residual income and ecosystem services, some of the most profound effects of AWR’s programs are to help rebuild those layers of social capital. Extra food to provide to neighbors. Some small money for school fees or church offerings. Female mentors and role models. While not often captured as part of programmatic indicators many beneficiaries speak to this critical function in the process of taking an active role in the work. For AWR rebuilding social capital and networks, especially in a refugee setting, has become a critical part of their programs.

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