WHO IS DANA GRABER LADEK?
Dana Graber Ladek is an international development professional with 20 years of experience developing and managing humanitarian assistance and community stabilization projects around the world, in coordination with government agencies, the United Nations, and national and international organizations.
Her recent assignments include Regional Specialist for Project Development for the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Office in Costa Rica, Head of the Regional Support Unit for IOM’s Budapest Regional Office, Displacement Specialist for IOM Iraq, Programme Liaison for IOM’s Washington Regional Office, Director of Outreach for The Communitarian Network, and Youth Development Volunteer for Peace Corps.
You can connect with Dana here:
IN TOR 099 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- In this capstone episode, some details on Dana and Stephen’s family life and partnership in Costa Rica.
- Dana’s Americas encompassing office job, focus on gender and children.
- How the IOM is yet another competitor in the development grant market.
- The future of migration and the factors that will gain prominence, like climate change.
- Family, personal and professional expectations about her upcoming promotion as Thailand county manager, to begin in a few months’ time.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- International Organization for Migration (IOM)
- Peace Corps
- United Nations
- Families with both parents working in development
- Climate Change
- Grants, funding, the application process
- Community building
- Big data for migration
- San José, Costa Rica
- Washington, DC
- Northern Iraq
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Dana at IOM
Regional Specialist for Project Development, provides support to all missions in the Americas throughout the cycle.
Special focus on gender subjects in projects.
As with most NGOs, funding comes from proposals written, sent to and approved by donors. They are sent informally, or as response to calls for them.
Proposal process is very much handled online nowadays. It implies constant communication with regional offices.
Supporting communities and children from personal and local situations all over the continent from one place is very gratifying.
There is removal of course.
Dana does travel occasionally, to finally meet people she’s been working with for months.
Dana’s travelled past
A plurality of office work with IOM and apart from them. Iraq (based in Jordan), DC, Budapest. Disconnect from the ground has been a constant.
There have been “TDYs” to the field.
Any new region is a new job with new dynamics. From crisis to stability.
How did she end up in this
Exposed to people with disadvantages since early childhood, in the U.S.
As an undergrad, she traveled to a Spanish speaking country.
Worked in DC, then joined Peace Corps Costa Rica. 2 years immersion with marginalized children. “It ignited my passion.“
Story that tells us what Dana does
At IOM Iraq. Based in Jordan with frequent crossings of the Northern Iraqi border.
Military flights, lodging at the UN Compound.
Providing aid under extreme security.
Is IOM handed money? “Not the case.” Dana’s main function is funding procurement.
When projects end, the IOM needs to work to keep ongoing efforts, and if unsuccessful, it needs to think about relocation of staff and resources.
Funding is not guaranteed. There is ongoing contribution from partners which is by no means enough.
Lots of partnerships with government agencies, NGOs, academia. But partners can become competitors. Coalition is a sign of strength
Challenges, struggles, frustrations
Specific to Costa Rica: in mid income nations funding interests vary constantly.
Migration crisis is calling the world’s attention, meaning resources are drawn from the region.
Family matters. Organization and priority is a constant negotiation, so communicating with the family is fundamental. Family is a team and needs to be scheduled in tandem. “A balancing act.“
The impact on family life is inevitable. All things considered, Stephen and Dana have been able to advance their careers and provide stability to the nucleus.
While both partners work in the development sector it’s probably best for one to be within an institution (Dana at IOM) and the other a freelancer (Stephen’s startups). One brings flexibility, the other stability.
Aid family soap
Dana has just accepted a new position at IOM: Chief of Mission (Country Director) in Thailand. The Ladeks are moving.
Dana is facing a whole new world of professional challenges, as well as a new family dynamic and adaptation process.
The farthest they’ll be from their hometowns. 12-hour time difference between Costa Rica and the U.S.
The kids (8, 5, 2) will be alright. “We focus on the exciting aspects, not on the difficult ones. We focus on their resilience.“
“Our careers have never been 9-5.“
Global support group
There is already one, and with Thailand it will only grow.
Expats tend to be friendly to one another.
“We’ve been intentional about community building.“
Travel takes extra effort socially. Balance must be done conscientiously.
Beauty, beaches, forests.
The region is full of opportunity.
From a country with a population of 2 million to a city with 10 million people.
“It’ll be quite a whirlwind.“
The future of migration
Climate Change, especially in Southeast Asia
Demand for tracking people’s movements, flows and patterns. Data.
Across oceans, continents.
Migrants needs and vulnerabilities. There is hunger for information and IOM is on top, technologically.
Network. Get to know people. Follow up. “Keeps those contacts alive.“
Be open minded and eager to learn. “As soon as you think you know it all you are in trouble.” More so in this field, new things are happening all the time.
Adaptation, resilience, readiness to respond.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Dana, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me directly, head on over to the Ask Stephen section. Don’t be shy! Every question is important and I answer every single one.
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