Ladies and gentlemen, people of good will and lovers of all things Guatemala, it is our distinct pleasure to present to you the newest member of CoEd’s senior staff. A long-time advocate for students and families, she’s worked on three continents, racked up almost a decade’s worth of international development experience, and has been a CoEd supporter since before she could vote. We’re beyond excited to re-introduce you to CoEd’s new Director of International Programs: Katie Dawson!
While Katie will retain direction of the Rise Program, she’ll be taking on oversight of CoEd’s other three programs as well, expanding her wheelhouse, and increasing her input in our overall vision and strategy. We’re excited for all she’ll bring to this role and grateful for her genuine investment in the well-being of the people of Guatemala (as well as our own).
We first met Katie as a high schooler in 2003. She remembers handing out things she thought were simple, like pencils and books, and how that experience contrasted with her second-semester senioritis: “It just kind of blew my mind how much I had taken for granted as a student in the States.” She left that tour asking CoEd co-founder Jeff what she should study in college so that she could come to work for us (turns out the answer was Economics, Public Policy, and Peace & Conflict Studies), and now she’ll be filling Jeff’s spot as he transitions to working with our partner organization, Idea Global. She’s come full circle.
When you ask Katie what she most values about working for CoEd (other than getting to interact with awesome people like YOU), she mentions how much it means to know that our programs actually make a difference. She remembers how, on one of her many tours since that first one, they met a boy who had been in and out of school and had left home to escape abuse. He’d been composing music as a sort of escape, something to give him solace, and he explained to her how he’d been reading ahead in his new textbook because the poetry there was helping him find inspiration. “You never know what a textbook is gonna do for a kid,” she says. “It’s not just about being able to learn more academic content but sometimes about helping them find an escape and learning to cope with things you would never expect.”
Thank you, Katie, for reminding us of the great value of the work that’s being undertaken in Guatemala. We’re proud of your accomplishments over the past decade and we can’t wait to see where your leadership will take us. Cheers!