Commit2Change are building a world in which every girl can thrive - no matter where she lives, no matter what her background. We had a cup of Chai with Valerie Bartlett, US Executive Director of Commit2Change, who is passionate about improving the lives of those in need.
Tell us a bit about yourself & your backgroundI was born in Los Angeles, CA but grew up in Baltimore MD. I have my master’s degree in Public Health and about 25 years of work experience in academic medicine, research, nonprofits, and government public health initiatives. When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family, friends and two cats. I love to eat good food, travel and stay active.
How did you first get involved with C2C?
I was drawn to C2C from my very first informational meeting and interview with the co-founders, Sumana Setty and Sejal Gehani. Beyond the organization’s inspiring mission, I was partial to the small team, exciting start-up mentality and truly vast potential in the programs to alleviate poverty and gender discrimination. I am passionate about improving the lives of those in need and I can’t think of a better way to move the dial on public health issues across the world than by educating at-risk, vulnerable girls.
What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding part of C2C?
In terms of things that keep me up at night, fundraising is one of those challenges. Our programs depend on the funds C2C is able to raise throughout the year and I’m always worrying about how we will support the girls we serve.
For rewards, well there are many as you may imagine! The challenge of fundraising is an unexpected rewarding part of my work: I count myself lucky for the opportunity to witness the generosity of those who choose to donate their time and money. It’s quite motivating.
And, of course, the girls’ stories of success, resilience and hope keep me encouraged. We keep C2C’s broad impact front and center, like the fact that 98% of the girls we serve remain in high school during the year. But I find the simple, individual victories to also be profound and extremely rewarding. Stories like Anita learning to self-journal over the summer for mental health and to improve her English, or Bindu learning to code her first application, or Gayathri graduating from 11th grade with honors, bringing her closer to her goal of becoming an engineer. The girls we serve are determined to take charge of their future. It is a privilege to witness their numerous, smaller achievements along their educational journeys.
What do you think is the most important work that you do with C2C?
What a great question!
At a very high level, I think my most important work is about creating opportunities. I’m involved in designing and implementing C2C programs with the goal of creating opportunities and autonomy for the girls we serve. And, I believe it’s also incumbent on me to create opportunities for other C2C stakeholders – staff, volunteers, donors, partners, sponsors. If everyone who wants to be is involved in our shared work in ways that are fulfilling and meaningful, then C2C will be that much more successful in reaching our vision of transforming lives through education.
What/who inspires you the most?
My family! They are a constant source of encouragement and motivation and I feel incredibly blessed to have them.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?
Is time travel allowed as an answer? I would travel to pre-Covid19 times!
Seriously though, I plan to go to Italy. The food, culture, history, architecture, countryside...it’s my happy place and I will be there as soon as I can travel safely again.
Any big plans or goals for 2021?
On the C2C front, we hope to run classes IN PERSON in 2021!