Celia Nalwadda

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, Class of 2021-22

  • Home country: Uganda
  • College and degree: MSc Land Management and Natural Resource Management, Cranfield University UK; Diploma in Industrial Forest Plantations, Helsinki University, Finland; BSc Forestry, Makerere University, Uganda
  • Current career: Senior Research Officer at the Uganda National Academy of Sciences
  • Specialization: Science for policy
  • Emailctn25 [at] cornell.edu (ctn25[at]cornell[dot]edu)

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

I was appointed as an Acting Executive Secretary of the National Academy in 2015 during a pivotal time when the Academy was transitioning from ten-year grant funding from the US National Academies to self reliance. It was a very delicate balance to maintain the very talented current staff at the secretariat during this period of financial uncertainty, and to garner the support of an almost all male board that didn't have much confidence in a young female executive. I leveraged my positive personality traits to keep staff motivated, my professional networks and previous excellent project performances to secure additional funding from grant agencies, and proactively engaged the board in management decision making. It was a challenging but successful eight months!

What are the big challenges you want to tackle in your country, and what impact would you like to make?

I want to activate a work stream on climate change and the environment at the National Academy. I'm also interested in motivating fellows in the area of natural sciences so that they can actively engage with policy makers and use their work to guide decision making that positively impacts the environment and peoples' livelihoods. Also, I would like to propel my career higher into the top management levels.

How do you think your Humphrey Fellowship and your time at Cornell will help boost your career?

While at Cornell, I hope to update myself on the latest global and regional initiatives in the field of climate change and environmental policy, network and forge new professional relationships that are mutually beneficial, and strengthen my leadership capabilities.

What does public service mean to you?

Using my abilities and talents for the good of others, and motivating others to do the same.

Tell us a fun fact about you. 

I am happiest spending time with my family, especially little ones, and a bonus is doing so outdoors while enjoying nature.

What would be your personal motto? 

Don't think outside the box; there is no box.

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