Joan Parker is president and CEO of Counterpart International, an organization that builds the capacity of emerging leaders, nonprofits and social sector networks so that they can create durable solutions their communities need. Prior to joining Counterpart, Joan spent 20 years working across Africa on pro-poor economic growth, from the early days of microfinance in Kenya to re-establishing economic opportunities for communities hit hard by HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. Joan’s experience spans technical design, performance monitoring, and organizational leadership in the for-profit world of international development, including at Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) and the US Dairy Export Council. She brought those skills to Counterpart in 2010, which turned “50 years young” in 2015.
Connection: Friend of the Network at Counterpart International, 6 years
Number of SVP Global Conferences attended: This is my first
What do you love to do in your free time?
I discovered at age 15 that I am happiest when climbing hills of any size. My sister and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in August this year, launching our pact to climb 60k feet together before we turn 60, aka “60 x 60.”
What is one little known fact about yourself?
Thirty years ago while I was living in Kenya, my African colleagues made me an honorary Maasai warrior (without the normal requirements of killing a lion or being male), and I was renamed “Makes Things Happen.”
What are the social causes you’re passionate about?
I am passionate about voice and participation – each person finding their opportunity to be a “social venturer.” The challenges and opportunities we have in front of us are so varied and so large that we all need to find the social venturer within, then link that powerful person to a network to amplify and act together. At the SVP conference, I am looking forward learning how we can be more audacious in how we do that!
Why did you decide to attend this year’s SVP Global Conference?
I am (and Counterpart is) really excited to participate in the SVP Network and conference for the first time. It seems like we’ve found a network and community of fellow-travelers in SVP, since, like SVP, Counterpart’s purpose is making non-profits wildly successful in delivering on their mission. Our network covers 25 countries, and most are different than SVP countries – so together we may be able to find some good synergies.