Emily McGinnis

MPS '22, Global Development
  • Hometown: Middletown, Rhode Island, USA
  • Colleges attended and degree earned: Georgetown University: Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS)
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

Inequality, gender inequity, structural racism, bigotry, and other forms of paternalism, prejudice, and/or oppression and injustice — no small feat!

What were you doing before the MPS program?

Prior to the MPS program, I was working in philanthropy, managing a leadership development program and investing in social entrepreneurs and innovative non-profits that challenge the paradigms of existing top-down systems. Prior to that, I worked for a human-centered design consultancy and was a Youth Development Facilitator with the Peace Corps in Peru.

What does global development mean to you?

A more equitable and just world where all people have access to opportunities and the potential to thrive according to their own definition of success. High Human Development Index is also probably a pretty good indicator of that. ;)

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

Getting to co-create a girls' radio program with the youth I worked with in Peru; seeing some of the insights that my colleagues and I surfaced with individuals served implemented to make for more people-centered disability services at a network of agencies back home in RI; and seeing the non-profit leaders I worked with at my foundation in DC deliver their final storytelling presentations to more powerfully share the narratives of the mission and impact of their work. I've also loved volunteer teaching ESOL to diverse communities at home and abroad and seeing students make progress along the way.

How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?

I believe my MPS degree will challenge me to continue reflecting on what justice and equity mean, how to put those values into practice, and sharpen the knowledge and skills I need to be able to do so in global contexts.

Do you have any aspirations for what you’d like to focus on in your MPS problem-solving project?

I'm very focused on incorporating participatory practices and feedback loops into program design and evaluation in an effort to shift more power and agency to communities served. Having worked in human-centered design and leveraged customer/user insights for program evaluation in philanthropy prior, I aspire to advance greater adoption of some of these approaches in global development to address some of the ways that aid has failed to value local knowledge to date. Still finalizing a use case, but I'm thinking of tapping some of my existing networks in Peru to examine and evaluate the effectiveness of COVID relief for rural, Andean women, centering the feedback of individuals it was meant to reach.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I was a Navy brat growing up and am the oldest of four!

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