US COUNTRY DIRECTOR | GLOBAL POVERTY PROJECT
What do you do as US Country Director for the Global Poverty Project?
My job is to build a movement of people taking meaningful, timely actions that have huge policy implications for the extreme poor. We are working to see a world without extreme poverty by 2030, which involves zeroing in on policy areas where we can have great impact, partnering with NGOs doing incredible work on the ground in that particular policy arena, leveraging the voices of Global Citizens to achieve large scale wins for the world’s poor and building events such as the Global Citizen Festival where these wins can be announced and celebrated.
What is a 'typical work day' like?
There are no typical work days. Absolutely never. My days are made up of a combination of internal management meetings, strategy or brainstorm sessions, external partnership meetings, meetings at the United Nations, with policy experts in Washington D.C. and with non-profit partners, a bit of business development and a lot of (literal) running around.
How did you get to your current job?
Honestly? I found it online on Idealist.org. Global Poverty Project was just starting up in the United States so it didn’t have any name recognition, but I was fascinated by the combination of campaigning and development and applied immediately.
You did a BA in History, Anthropology and Judaic Studies, followed by an MA in Global Affairs and Non-Profit Management both at NYU. How have you used those degrees in your career?
I love to learn. And I think that my undergraduate degree is evidence of that. I just soaked up all that NYU had to offer, not quite knowing what path made sense for me. I am a bit biased as a History major, but I feel that studying history gives you a fantastic base for any career and some strong writing skills to boot. I’ve even heard rumours that they are pulling history majors into medical school...
My graduate degree was a direct reflection of the career that I wanted to pursue. I valued every word of every book, every discussion and really just ate it all up. It provided a strong base for my career and I do feel that it was an essential part of my professional development.
Is doing an MA something you would recommend to people who want to work in the non-profit sector?
There’s nothing as valuable as experience. I’d encourage that over anything else. My MA has been valuable in that I went into a field that is heavy on policy and I find myself in development theory discussions as part of my role. However, I’d encourage people to get out there and working in order to really figure out what you want to do and then if it makes sense to dive deeply into a master’s degree, then pursue it when you’ve found your passion area.
This is your third job with the Global Poverty Project. How has staying with the same employer contributed to your professional development?
Global Poverty Project has grown significantly over the past few years. With that growth has come the opportunity to work in a variety of capacities, which I feel has fully prepared me for my current role as US Country Director.
What are the most and least rewarding aspects of your career?
I think I have the same answer for both the most and least rewarding aspects of my career. This work can be intense – intense in that way where it fills you up every day, you love going to work because you know you are having real impact, you put every ounce of your being into your work because you believe a world without extreme poverty is really possible. But it is also intense in a way where you work long hours, don’t sleep enough and put your all into the mission. I do well in that intensity, in that work hard / play hard sort of environment but you have to make sacrifices when your energy is so focused in one place.
What advice would you give to somebody who would like to do a similar job?
Take every opportunity. I did not end up here because of a clear path. I worked hard, I travelled when I had no money, I worked the craziest jobs – from book factories to rock climbing gyms, to a corporate position in the UBS building across from Rockefeller Center to a non-profit in Newark, to working on human rights issues in Cameroon. Through all of these experiences, I learned what I did and did not want to do, and built a dynamic skill set.
What are the key skills that make you good at what you do? How did you gain them?
I think one of them is building partnerships. It takes relationship building and management, ability to see and create something that does not yet exist, negotiation, and big ideas. It also takes the ability to read people. You can only gain that from a wide breadth of experiences and through exposure to a broad range of people from different backgrounds, demographics and cultures.
Do you have a role model and if so who and why?
My Grandmother Ann Marino was definitely my role model. She taught me the definition of hard work while truly loving everyone she encountered. She worked until she was 86 years old running the only kitchen in a school in Chicago where they still made the food from scratch each day. She was a force and a light.
Justine Lucas - US Country Director of the Global Poverty Project
10 years' experience
CV in brief
Education: MA in Global Affairs and Non-profit Management at New York University (NYU); BA in History, Anthropology, and Judaic Studies New York University (NYU)
Find her online