The LEAP Journey: The story of a student, nurtured by the Beeck Center

By Regina Titi Ofei

I first got involved with the Beeck Center in the summer of 2017, as a student analyst, at a time when the Center was in the early stages of exploring and experimenting with various projects and focus areas for research and thought leadership. As a global health major and economics minor, I long sought after a space on campus where I could further explore the value of the intersection of these two disciplines, and I am happy to say that my time as part of the Beeck Center family afforded me this opportunity and more.  

As a space that prides itself in providing students, thought-leaders, and academics a common space to dream, break rules, collaborate across disciplines, and ideate solutions for rethinking the social sector and improving the lives of people everywhere, my passion to chart a career in the international development space was ignited.

My first project at the Center was to design a new student engagement strategy. Over the course of the summer, we developed a partnership with the Georgetown Weeks of Welcome, joined the steering committee of the Georgetown Student Entrepreneurship Exchange, and strengthened our partnerships with student led organizations on campus that shared the Center’s values.

With time, I took on more research responsibility, working specifically in the innovative financing portfolio. I supported the Center’s pay for success work and attended hill briefings and seminars across the district that explored the role of performance-based financing in accelerating progress and outcomes in numerous projects across the social sector. As part of this research, we worked on a on a case study on innovative public-private partnerships in New Zealand and explored how recidivism can be reduced in public prisons by leveraging innovative financing mechanisms in such settings.

While the Beeck Center has always been committed to investing in top student talent and nurturing students to be innovative and unafraid to take risks, it is undoubtedly at a very exciting period in its history, with a sharper focus and more concerted effort on student engagement with the development of the LEAP Framework, which places an intentional structure around how the center envisions student growth and participation over their four years on the hilltop. 

I share below how my social impact journey with the Center, and at Georgetown more broadly, fit into this framework: 

Learn: I first got introduced to some of the topics and research areas in the international development space through a class I took on the political economy of health and development. In that class, we explored the role of results-based financing in the health sector and the ways in which some international agencies like GAVI, the Global Fund, and UNITAID have leveraged innovative finance mechanisms for resource mobilization in their activities globally.

Explore: This class sparked in me an interest to find a space, outside of the classroom setting, where I can continue to test these ideas and learn more about how they are transferred and applied in other sectors beyond health. Having the opportunity to be sponsored by the Beeck Center to attend the Harvard Africa Business Conference broadened my knowledge and served as the trigger for my interest in social impact and pursuing a career in the international development space. I was also inspired by the voices I heard in an array of seminars and panels including with Shu Dar Yao, Head of Capital Formation at Social Finance INC., and with Beeck Center Director Sonal Shah, who brings a wealth of experience from the finance world to solving some of the most complex and intractable challenges that face the social sector today.

Act: As a student analyst at the Center, I continued to learn, be mentored by some of the brightest minds in the social sector, expand my knowledge in the space and assist in research and publications that seek to push the boundaries of thought in the social sector. One of the most formative experiences I had as an analyst was the opportunity to speak on a panel with Matt Fortier, Director of Student Engagement and Michael Bakan (GU Impacts Fellow ’17) at the annual Georgetown Board of Regents Meeting on our experiences learning and working at the Center and how it has shaped our understanding and interest in the social sector and achieving impact at scale.

Partner: Now as a student analyst alum, I continue to stay plugged into the events at the Beeck Center and look forward to strengthening the relationship between the Beeck Center and the African Society of Georgetown in my capacity as president this year. It will be a great way to get more students, especially from minority backgrounds, involved and interested in the impact at scale agenda and exposed to more opportunities to learn and grow in the social impact space.

As I get ready to graduate in May, I have accepted a position in Dakar, Senegal as an associate with IDinsight, a social impact advisory and impact evaluation firm. I am extremely excited to be entering the world of work, knowing that my experiences at the Beeck Center have created a firm foundation and launch pad for me to pursue my goals in the international development arena.

I remain grateful to mentors like Matt, Sonal, and Marta who were highly instrumental in my intellectual growth and sparked in me this desire to go back home and be part of Africa’s development at such an exciting time. 

Thank you Beeck Center and Hoya Saxa!!