World Pulse

Meet the New World Pulse Community Champions

Kim Crane
Posted January 15, 2015 from United States

World Pulse Community Champions convene global discussions on leadership and economic empowerment.

Four World Pulse luminaries are ushering in a new model of leadership on WorldPulse.com. Meet the Community Champions who are mobilizing discussion and action in our network around two important topics: Economic Empowerment and Leadership.

What are Community Champions? They are community members who model World Pulse’s core values and help create a thriving, interactive network. They support and engage women change-leaders and their allies by sharing resources, spotlighting innovative solutions, encouraging connections, creating safe and meaningful environment for discussion, and building movements. Collectively, they bring rich life experience, facilitation skills, strong voices and listening ears, passion and expertise in their topic areas, and a burning desire to learn and share new things with other women around the world.

Read on to meet Dudziro from Zimbabwe and Olanike from Nigeria who are spearheading the Leadership Group, as well as Maria Chona from the Philippines and Phionah Musumba from Kenya who are heading up our Economic Empowerment Group. These women are building on their experiences as change leaders to establish World Pulse Groups as vibrant online spaces for connection and collaboration.

Photo of Maria Chona Lasaca

Ma.chona lasaca | Philippines

Maria Chona Lasaca

Economic Empowerment Community Champion

Maria Chona Lasaca (Ma.chona lasaca on World Pulse) approaches the challenge of leading the Economic Empowerment Group with the same spirit she approached her activism seeking democratic changes in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship more than 25 years ago. “I was one of the few brave souls who joined the protest movement,” she says. “I am now using that boldness to try new things.”

The hardships of that period in her life tested Maria Chona's resiliency, and imparted life lessons that shaped her as a leader. Maria Chona had met and married a revolutionary leader and bore a son while underground with the nationalist movement. “I struggled to meet the demands of being a young parent to two children while providing leadership to projects and development organizations,” she says.

Maria Chona’s husband is a political detainee who was involved in peace talks as a peace consultant during the time of his arrest andhas been imprisoned for the past six years. The peace talks have stalled. “The situation seems hopeless—but I have a sense of hope,” says Maria Chona

She aims to bring that sense of hope to other women in the Economic Empowerment group, and believes her own economic empowerment journey can provide inspiration. After years working in NGOs providing economic opportunities for others, Maria Chona decided to launch a business herself. In 2009, when she started her business providing healthy alternatives to fast food, she wished there were more resources and networks of support for entrepreneurs like her. “I felt isolated trying to manage [my business] in a very competitive setting.”

She hopes to guide the World Pulse Economic Empowerment group to become the kind of resource she was looking for back then.

“This group will serve as a wellspring of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work in different contexts.” She also highlights the importance of connecting to others: “I see this group as a circle of support so that we can reach out to women changemakers in communities so that their efforts will be validated and innovations can be shared.”

Maria Chona brings more than 23 years of experience in program and project development and management. “I want to share with other women my experiences and strategies that helped me attain my life goals of becoming financially independent and having meaningful work.”

Maria Chona says she is looking forward to learning and taking part in a dynamic movement of women for women.

Phionah Musumba

Economic Empowerment Community Champion

“I know the ugly face of poverty like the palm of my hand,” says Phionah Musumba, fromVihiga in rural Western Kenya. She recalls a painful time in her life when she could not afford to meet her family’s basic needs. Today, her experiences with poverty motivate her to empower grassroots women like herself.

“What I went through to get where I am presently was not pretty at all,” she continues. “I watched my son die for lack of money to pay for his medication. I fed my daughter stones for lack of food. I spent countless nights with my three children aged between 10 years and 5-months, out in the cold because I couldn't afford shelter. No mother needs to go through this. These are some of the strongest reasons I soldier on for my sisters. To make their suffering a little bit bearable. I do what I do because I lived their poverty.”

For the past 14 years, Phionah has headed a nonprofit organization that empowers girls with education and women with skills for enterprise development. She has run the Malkia Foundation and Centre for Disadvantaged Girls from her own pocket without donor support. “I know how hard it is to run a nonprofit without funds, when hundreds of people in the community look up to you for their daily sustenance,” says Phionah. “My inspiration comes from seeing the relief and happiness on the faces of girls and their brothers, who through Malkia Foundation get a second shot at an elusive education. My own life experiences keep me working harder everyday.”

In addition to her personal experiences overcoming economic challenges, Phionah brings experience in operations management, human resources, and mentoring and coaching employees.

Through her involvement with World Pulse, Phionah has recently been awarded two fellowships: Vital Voices 2014 and IREX CSP 2014. As a Community Champion, Phionah is excited to help grassroots women worldwide realize their economic potential. While sharing her knowledge, Phionah hopes to hone her own skills, particularly in microfinance. Her vision for the Economic Empowerment Group is for women to be able to access the resources they need to “oil the wheels of their leadership roles.”

Photo of Chibairo

Chibairo | Zimbabwe

Dudziro Nhengu

Leadership Community Champion

DudziroNhengu’s experience ranges from King College, London, to a market stall in Harare, and from editing fiction to researching gender, peace and security. The feminist spark that unites all this disparate energy was first lit at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town where Dudziro (Chibairoon World Pulse)went for post-graduate studies. A six-month Kings College research fellowship on peace and security then fanned the flame and today Dudziro is passionately committed to ending discrimination and violence against women.

Facing survival challenges in a stagnant Zimbabwean economy, Dudziro found herself selling goods in an open market. She went on to organize market women and create space for them to tell their stories. Other moments have found her conducting research on violence against women, heading the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe, working as Programme Officer for the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network, and providing editorial assistance to academic and fiction publishers. Sheresides in Harare Zimbabwe and brings nearly 19 years of experience in development, human rights, and peace and security, with a focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Managing Peace and Security in Africa at the Institute of Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa University.

“My interest in this role stems from my passion in growing a strong movement of empowered and critically conscious women who can work to develop themselves, their families, communities, and nations to inform egalitarianism,” says Dudziro. “I also want to see women-led societies in the whole world in the near future.”

She is proficient in Shona, English, and Ndebele, and anticipates receiving her master’s degree this June in Managing Peace and Security in Africa. Engaged in global and regional collaborations, Dudziro has worked with UN agencies, along with governmental and civic organizations. She is skilled at facilitating change processes and developing training curricula, and has experience running a training on Transformational Leadership for Women. She is also eager to share her writing and editing skills with other women and to use these skills to amplify women's voices across the globe.

Dudziro is motivated by feminist principles, love for womenfolk, and the desire to help create feminist-oriented knowledge for women's empowerment. She believes the World Pulse Leadership Group can become “a strong movement for empowered women, connecting the dots all over global spaces.”

Photo of Greengirl

Greengirl | NIGERIA

Olanike Olugboji

Leadership Community Champion

“I believe that together, we can take a journey of discovery, uncover our leadership, and create the kind of future we individually and collectively envision,” says Olanike Olugboji (Greengirl on World Pulse), a women's empowerment advocate and environmental activist from Kaduna, Nigeria. She is the program coordinator of Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), a grassroots nonprofit organization that promotes constructive environmental ideals by empowering women through education, advocacy, and project implementation to become environmental stewards.

“I am very passionate about leadership development, movement building, and community organizing, as well as cross-cultural networking and partnering,” says Olanike.

“The leadership group stands to benefit from my understanding of leadership and volunteerism, community engagement experiences, and ability to inspire and motivate others.” To date, she has engaged more than 1000 grassroots women in her community in activities that focus on water and food security, forest conservation, and climate change. Olanike was a Voices of Our Future correspondent who was selected as a World Pulse LIVE 2014 speaker. She is an alumna of the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and a thriving women’s digital empowerment advocate. She speaks Yoruba, Hausa, and English.

Olanike believes leadership is often misunderstood or abused in many sectors. For her, leadership is all about service. She believes effective leaders are made, not born. She credits her parents and role models like Wangari Maathai, and supportive networks likeGWLN and World Pulse,for the development of her own leadership skills over the years.

She envisions a safe, healthy, and just world where grassroots women are duly represented, and take the lead in natural resource governance.

“There is no doubt that the Leadership Group will be a space for me to learn, share, connect, build relationships, as well as inspire and also draw inspiration from other change leaders from around the world.”


Editor's note: Join one or both of the Leadership or Economic Empowerment groups to work alongside these visionaries and help build World Pulse groups from the ground up.

Comments 22

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Cali gal Michelle
Jan 22, 2015
Jan 22, 2015

Welcome Community Champions! Thank you for your leadership - looking forward to great things to come!

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 22, 2015
Jan 22, 2015

How wonderful to see you all stepping forward here as the leading champions that you are! Hopefulness and determination grow just by knowing you exist, and in knowing that we can now work together through World Pulse.

Terry Mullins
Jan 22, 2015
Jan 22, 2015

So very proud, and in awe, of all four of you! You are leaders in every sense of the word and your commitment as Community Champions to these new groups will ensure their success! Thank you for your dedication to World Pulse! 

coolasas
Jan 22, 2015
Jan 22, 2015

It's good to see "real life" role models within our reach. 

You represent all of us and I am sure with your example more women will be encourage, myself included to make a difference in our own way. 

Kudos everyone! 

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby
Jan 23, 2015
Jan 23, 2015

Wowee! You four are impressive in such wonderful ways! Looking forward to connecting with you all together very soon. In the meantime, a prayer from one of my very favorites, the Australian cartoonist Leunig:

God help us to change. To change ourselves and to change our world. To know the need for it. To deal with the pain of it. To feel the joy of it. To undertake the journey without understanding the destination. The art of gentle revolution. Amen.

ikirimat
Jan 23, 2015
Jan 23, 2015

Wow

You are all great women and I look forward to more discussions and learning from you. You are inspiring role models.

Eunice Owino
Jan 27, 2015
Jan 27, 2015

My hearty congratulations goes to my sisters who are now our champion leaders. Looking forward to taking world pulse a notch higher through your leadership. Be blessed all

fiona18
Feb 25, 2015
Feb 25, 2015

Hello

I am Tracey from the uk. I like the work that you are doing. 

Tracey

Lee LaTour
Jan 29, 2015
Jan 29, 2015

Kudos to alll of you. Your commitmment to taking on this leadership role in our community will only make us stronger. Thank you!

Ayshah Maende
Feb 03, 2015
Feb 03, 2015

It's always fascinatingus to see women join realising the importance of being economic empowered. Being a person who would like to learn more about it am definitely looking forward to learning alot from the brave women above. Let the sky be the limit always

SanPatagonia
Feb 03, 2015
Feb 03, 2015

A wonderful journey lead by these great and inspiring women, our champions! Your voices are about hope, bravery and commitment. Thank you for sharing and creating wisdom in this network!

Terry Shiundu
Feb 03, 2015
Feb 03, 2015

Congratulations to this great team of Women leaders. I look forward to insightful discussions as the community grows stronger through your leadership!

Best.

carolepng
Feb 04, 2015
Feb 04, 2015

Wow that's great! Congratulations and looking forward to working, learning and assisting to make our communities even better :D

Ma. Guzman-Callano
Feb 05, 2015
Feb 05, 2015

I am so proud that the number of HR rights champions is growing. May your tribe multiply!  Keep the faith and resolve to speak for the voiceless.

Olanike
Feb 07, 2015
Feb 07, 2015

Heartfelt gratitude to everyone. Your words are humbling, yet very encouraging and empowering.  We are all champions with a high sense of commitment towards spurring and supporting one another to make a difference in our communties and our world.

We all have something to offer and please do know that you are welcome to share your insights and ideas! Together we can walk our talk and talk our walk. Together we can!

Love and respect, Olanike.

Jacqueline Patiño
Feb 07, 2015
Feb 07, 2015

I am awed at the presentation of the new webpage, but even more so at seeing Maria Chona Lasaca become a champion, because she is a real ace that I had the pleasure of sharing the very first version of Voices of the Future digital journalism class with.

Thank you for bringing her to this new role. She will do a beautiful job, as well as the other champions, but please understand that she is my classmate, and I will always cheer a little more for her! hahaha

Seriously now, to all our champions, goes my heart and my energy in a warm embrace! Cheers!

Love,

Jackie

ma.chona lasaca
Feb 08, 2015
Feb 08, 2015

Thank you Jackie for that wonderful endorsement! I am so glad to hear from you again, an amazing writer that could speak straight from the heart and a source of inspiration for all women around the world with your strength and generous spirit. Please join us in the Economic Empowerement group and share to us your stories of economic struggles and empowerement that women in your country are doing,

Maria Chona

ANNE CHIRUME
Feb 10, 2015
Feb 10, 2015

Si je comprend bien, toutes ces femmes ont raison de s'insurger contre la pauvreté qui avilissent les femmes à travers le monde. Puisse la pauvreté demeurée notre défi pour cette décennie afin que le monde s'éclore.

fiona18
Feb 25, 2015
Feb 25, 2015

Hello

My name is Tracey from uk

Damilola Fasoranti
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

Keep the flags high.

We celebrate these champions and many more outside there beyond this network.

Hearty Cheers.

bookorla
Apr 20, 2015
Apr 20, 2015

Reading this articles of this four great women as indeed inspired me. Im moved by your passion and the potentials you all exhibit. Indeed women can be the change the world needs if we all unite together and act. Well articulated. Let continue to raise the bar .

JANEKALU
Jun 02, 2015
Jun 02, 2015

You are all wonderful women,reading from you each time gives me a sence of freedom.Knowing fully well that a women can atten any height she chooses to as long as she wants it.Kudos I'm proud of you.