Official Blog of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alumni Profile: Eugenia Podesta (LACIS BA ’98, MA ’06)

A Madisonian originally, Eugenia Podesta (LACIS BA ’98, MA’06) has also experienced the University of Wisconsin-Madison in her various capacities as a LACIS and Spanish undergraduate student, Spanish TA, and participant of the dual degree program JD/MA between the UW Law School and LACIS. Now living and working in Washington, D.C. and traveling abroad frequently, Podesta proudly represents the UW as the Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean region for Vital Voices.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton founded the Vital Voices non-governmental organization in 1997 to advance women’s leadership internationally as a vehicle for transformative change in economic development, human rights and political participation. Vital Voices provides training and leadership development opportunities to high-potential leaders around the world, in an effort to create the next generation of women leaders globally. Since its inception, the organization has grown to reach over 500,000 women in 127 countries.

In her position as Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Podesta oversees Vital Voices’ portfolio of programs, activities and events in the fields of Economic Development, Political Participation, and Human Rights in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. She also manages a dynamic network of women leaders and 10 Vital Voices chapters in the region in addition to the recently launched  Latin American and Caribbean Businesswomen’s Network (LAC BWN). The LAC BWN is a network of businesswomen’s organizations in Argentina, Guatemala and Nicaragua that contributes to a self-sustaining, locally-led infrastructure committed to delivering impactful business development programs and services for women. The LAC BWN was launched in the summer of 2011 is modeled after other successful regional business women’s networks in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Podesta hopes to expand the network further throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region in the process of forming a global businesswomen’s network.

Podesta remarks that in the field of international development, “priorities and funding opportunities are always changing. It is necessary to be innovative, adapt and work with the trends in order to ensure that programs and initiatives survive and grow.” This is certainly true of Podesta’s role in Vital Voices, where her responsibilities include strategic planning, managing teams and budgets, measurement & evaluation, development and funder/relationship management. She oversees a range of activities aimed at formalizing the chapters and integrating networks, including organizational development and capacity-building for which she travels all over Latin America and the Caribbean.

With respect to her work, Podesta says that “what is most fulfilling is the opportunity to connect to and support so many inspiring and courageous women, and men, that are having a real impact on changing attitudes, seeking justice and creating opportunities for others to succeed, often in very difficult circumstances.”

LACIS is glad to see the important and dynamic role that Eugenia is playing in an organization that is creating positive opportunities for international development.

Written by Monica McCarthy