Judith Rowland


You’re working for the Global Poverty Project as a US Campaigns Associate. What does that entail?

I lead on our Government Relations in the United States. My job is to help connect the dots between the actions that our users, Global Citizens, take and the impact that the actions have on the political environment in our country.

What do you do on a “typical work day”?

There isn’t a ‘typical work day’ at Global Citizen! I spend a lot of time in Washington D.C. meeting with elected leaders and their staff to speak about key issues on which we’ve been campaigning. Other times, I’m tucked away in a conference room working on a campaign plan and researching all of the potential ways that we could influence a specific leader. My favourite days are those when I get to connect with our supporters and hear about why they are passionate about ending extreme poverty by 2030.

How did you get to your current job?

On the first day of my graduate program at the London School of Economics I heard a presentation from Elisha London about the work that Global Poverty Project was doing. I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of her team.

This is your third job with the Global Poverty Project. How has staying with the same employer contributed to your professional development?

I started working with Global Poverty Project in London in 2011. In 2012 I was offered a role in the New York City office. When I got to New York there were about seven people in the office. Now we’re a team of around 35. The growth of the organisation has been absolutely stunning and it is great to be part of it all! Each day brings new challenges – I never get bored.

How have you used your degrees, political science and government for your undergrad and development economics and international development for your masters, in your career?

In the international development sector it is essential to not only understand complex development issues but also to bring a hard skill set to the table. My experience working in government really shaped the work that I do today.

You speak multiple languages. How is that useful in your job?

Languages are fascinating to me. Becoming fluent in a second (or third!) language requires the ability to truly listen to other people and to see casual interactions as a key method for learning about the world.

Learning languages teaches you to think critically about the world around you and to understand the nuances of everyday interactions. I don’t use my Spanish or my Mandarin in the office but the lessons that I learned through language acquisition are useful everyday.

What are the most and least rewarding aspects of your job?

Working in international development isn’t easy. It is really sad to hear about outbreaks of measles or of kids who still don’t get to school. To me, the amazing stories of success and progress are super motivating. It is incredible to know that polio cases have been reduced by 99% since 1988. It is great to hear that more kids are in school now than ever before. It is incredible to know that we can be the generation to end extreme poverty. The sense of hope and opportunity is incredibly empowering. 

What advice would you give to somebody who would like to do a similar job?

I would encourage anyone passionate about working in government relations for a non-profit to spend their university years learning as much as they can about how the system of government works in their country. If possible, in the US, spend time working for a Member of Congress. The opportunities that you will have in the heart of government are invaluable.

What are the key skills that make you good at what you do? How did you gain them?

Everyone that works at Global Citizen is really hardworking and really optimistic. We see opportunity – not barriers. We think creatively and work outside of the box to achieve our goals. I see these aspects as ‘skills’ as opposed to personality traits. My time living and working in Ghana in 2010 taught me how to be patient, flexible, and hopeful.

What is the toughest lesson you have learnt?

Your first priority must always be self-care. I went through some health problems while I was living in China that were caused by not getting enough rest and not giving myself time to process what was going on around me. Skipping out on exercise and sleep won’t actually make you more efficient.

I’ve learned that I work best with about four or five hours of sleep each night and then, once every two weeks, a solid 14 hour snooze.

What achievements are you most proud of?

While I was living in England in 2009 I took up competitive kayaking as a sport. I hadn’t been in a kayak before our first practice. I’ll never forget the feeling of rolling a kayak for the first time; it was one of those things that I thought I would never be able to do! That is definitely my most proud achievement. Since then, I’ve gone on to conquer rapids that I never thought I could handle and I’ve learned tricks that I thought were impossible.

Do you have a role model and if so who and why?

Role models are so important. I can’t even name all of the people who have influenced my life as mentors. I really enjoy getting to know a mentor and observing the ways that they respond to different social and professional situations. One of my earliest mentors taught me the value of sending handwritten thank you notes. I make a habit of sending at least three handwritten notes a week; it is incredible to see how much a handwritten card means to people.

Why would it be good to have more women working in international development? What difference would it make?

I think it is shame that women are not represented equally on Capitol Hill. The White House Project has really hit the hammer on the nail – it isn’t that women win fewer elections than men; it is that women don’t enter as many races as men. If we want to be represented in politics then we need to recruit incredible women to run in races.

Judith Rowland - US Campaigns Associate of Global Citizen

Three years' experience

CV in brief: 

Studied: Political Science and Government at Missouri State University, Development Economics and International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE)

Previously worked at: Democratic National Committee, Office of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskillUnited Nations Association of the USARotary International

Find her online

Twitter: @JudithJRowland

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