Susan Davis’ Work with BRAC USA
Susan has an amazing passion and love for people. This is shown in her work with BRAC USA, where she has devoted a lot of her time and effort in developing programs that would help in inciting change in the lives of the poor families; not just by giving them relief goods, but also by giving them information on various ways that they could earn a living.
She has such an unbelievable set of values and ethics that she integrated in her career all throughout these years:
“In some ways ethics and values have become part of my DNA, and maybe that's true for most of us. It is probably a little like muscle in that you have to flex it on a daily basis in order to really develop the kind of tone and strength that's required. But whether it's through an early Catholic education or the Jesuits, who actually offered classes in ethics and international relations, or a chance to work with Derek Bok when I was at Harvard on a chapter in his book on the ethics of universities being involved in developing countries, I've been continually faced with different ethical dilemmas and tradeoffs where you needed to have the courage of your convictions.”
Two of the main reasons for BRAC USA’s success are Susan’s amazing intellect and ability to inspire other people. Throughout her career in working with various charitable organizations, Susan has successfully developed strategies that have enabled those organizations to effectively help the poor and underserved parts of the community. Not only that, Susan has also efficiently promoted the organizations’ aims in such a way that it draws the attention of the wealthy and able to provide assistance in helping the poor and needy.
Other Organizations Supported by Susan
Susan actively supports and participates in the activities of numerous non-governmental organizations that aim to promote the welfare of the people who are living below the poverty line. Aside from supporting them, Susan actually works with these organizations by being a board member. Some of the organizations are the Grameen Foundation, the New York University’s Reynolds Program on Social Entrepreneurship, Ashoka, Project Enterprise, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, the African Women’s Development Fund, the Aid to Artisans project, and the Realizing Rights Advisory Council: the Ethical Globalization Initiative.
Susan Davis’ Early Biography
Susan Davis was born to two British immigrants in the early 1950s in New York City. They lived a well to do life, which meant that Susan had everything that she needed as a child. At a very young age, her parents already instilled in Susan the value of people. During the 50s, racial discrimination was very apparent. Fortunately, Susan’s parents never participated in the racial violence that was prevalent in the neighborhood, an example that Susan would emulate as she grew older.
Even as a young girl, Susan already exhibited spectacular intellect and learning skills. In school, she was often praised by her teachers for her outstanding creativity and speed in learning. Her charismatic personality also enabled Susan to have many friends from all races, developing her love for all people. She was very intelligent and talented, and by the time she graduated from high school, Susan was among the top students of her alma mater.
Attending Georgetown University, Harvard University, and Oxford University
After graduating from high school, Susan entered three universities for her collegiate education: Georgetown University, Harvard University, and Oxford University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree, respectively. While studying for her collegiate degrees, Susan was known as a straight-A student, always receiving high marks in her subjects. She was also very popular to both her classmates and her teachers for her friendly and charismatic personality. She graduated from the three universities with high remarks and at the top of her class.
After graduating from college, Susan worked with several organizations in their efforts to help the poor and the needy. When she was in her 30s, Susan started working with the Ford Foundation and travelled around the country, establishing certain programs to help poor families in the United States.
Susan’s Work with Ashoka
Sometime in the 1980s, Susan was privileged to join a project by the foundation and visit the country of Bangladesh to work with Ashoka in their effort to expand their organization to the East. Although she initially thought twice of going, Susan realized that the trip was going to be a good opportunity for her to expand her perception of the world.
Upon her arrival at Bangladesh and working with Ashoka, Susan witnessed first-hand the atrocities that were being committed against women and children, as well as to the poor families.
“A good one that was scary for me was back in Bangladesh when I was working for the Ford Foundation in the 1980s. It was one of those classic cases of do you have the courage to speak up and do the right thing or do you play it safe and protect yourself, your career, your job, and perhaps yourself as a person.”
In one occasion, Susan was approached by a group of children who were from a slum community in Dhaka. They asked her to come with them, and when she went, Susan saw something that definitely changed her life. She saw a small boy who was killed by a bulldozer when the wrecking team from the wealthy community nearby came to demolish the houses. In an interview with her, Susan stated:
“What happened was a bunch of children turned up on my doorstep, and a few of them had their moms with them, and they were very excited and upset because their homes had just been bulldozed, and they wanted help. They lived in a slum community on the edge of the very wealthy, privileged community, Gulshan, in Dhaka. I immediately went with them to see what had happened. As I was walking through what were the flattened thatched and tin-roof huts, I found a woman who was sobbing over the body of her little boy, Rafik, who had been in one of the homes that had been bulldozed. People were extremely upset. I was hearing them. I have very bad Bangla but what I remember very sharply is these men and women were saying, 'We're not dogs.' They were so impassioned about the indignity and injustice of what had happened.”
This experience fuelled her desire to do something about the situation. With the help of several organizations in the country, Susan was able to promote the welfare of the poor and aid them through various programs that she helped develop.
Directing the Women’s Environment & Development Organization
For the next decades, Susan became actively involved in the development of organizations and their work in helping the poor and the needy of Bangladesh. In 1993, Susan became the executive director of the Women’s Environment & Development Organization, which was a global women’s advocacy organization that started new mechanisms for the worldwide women’s movement to influence negotiations at the global United Nations meetings.
Aside from this, Susan has also actively engaged and oversaw Ashoka’s expansion in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Her effective methods and strategies have placed Susan in Ashoka’s board, which gave her greater reach in society.
BRAC USA Keeps Helping the Poor
In 2007, Susan launched BRAC USA, a non-governmental organization that seeks to increase the awareness of its parent organization’s (BRAC) model for community development and mobilization of resources to support its global expansion. Based in New York, BRAC USA adopts its parent organization’s strategies in helping the development of poor communities, with strategies that Susan herself helped to make. Up to today, BRAC USA continues to successfully promote methods that enable the poor and the needy to rise up from their situation and have a better life.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- BRAC USA
- BRAC UK
- Ford Foundation
- Women’s World Banking
- Grameen Foundation
- Project Enterprise
- African Women’s Development Fund
- Aid to Artisans
- Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund