Atlas Corps celebrates its 15th anniversary! It is time to celebrate the achievements of our amazing network of over 1,200+ leaders from 112 countries and share stories on the global impact of our Alumni, Fellows, and Scholars.
Today we speak with our Alumna Raiza (Class 27, Philippines, Host: Heartland Alliance International) who is the Program Excellence Unit Manager at the Pilipinas Shell Foundation. The Pilipinas Shell Foundation is the social arm of Shell Companies in the Philippines and they promote self-resiliency in the vulnerable sectors and communities in the Philippines.
Raiza, we are truly inspired by and grateful for your impressive development and sustainability work in the vulnerable communities. Thank you for sharing with us your global impact, as well as your personal and professional growth. We wish you the best with this impactful work!
Name: Raiza Cusi
Home Country: The Philippines
Current Organization: Pilipinas Shell Foundation
Role at current organization: Program Excellence Unit Manager
Social Issues that you have worked with: Zero hunger, Good health and well-being, Quality education
Tell us about projects you have worked on?
I currently lead the Program Excellence Unit of Pilipinas Shell Foundation, the social arm of Shell Companies in the Philippines. I power the organization’s programs forward by developing strategies, creating new tools and systems, strengthening learning and best practices, and building the capacity of the staff to deliver greater impact in nutrition and food security, health and safety, energy, education, environment and livelihood sectors across various communities in the Philippines.
Why is it important for you to work with the vulnerable community?
I envision a world where opportunities for personal growth and development are available for every member of the community, especially vulnerable groups (i.e., women, children, youth and physically challenged). In this world of opportunities, I believe that I can do my share by empowering and working with community members, leaders and other stakeholders to create spaces for active citizenship and common good.
How has Atlas Corps contributed to your professional and personal accomplishments?
Atlas Corps helped define my career path in the development space. Before joining the Atlas Corps Fellowship, I spent over a decade delivering various development and humanitarian programs across the Philippines. 2017 proved to be a pivotal year for me. I became a part of Atlas Corps Class 27 and served as the Program Excellence Fellow at my Host Organization, Heartland Alliance International (HAI) in Chicago where I managed a multi-phase data collection solution project for case management and M&E system in pilot priority countries (Cote d’Ivoire and Iraq). At HAI, I also supported agency-level monitoring and managed the organization’s technical communities of practices across the headquarters (Chicago) and field offices (in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa). While I was able to build upon my knowledge and skills in program quality at my Host Organization, I also had the opportunity to volunteer in the Marjorie Kovler Torture Treatment Center.
Atlas Corps also helped me define my personal leadership brand through the Global Leadership Lab and an Executive Coaching opportunity (which was offered to a select group of Fellows). In the 18 months of my stay, Atlas Corps also extended opportunities for us to create strategic linkages through participation in conferences (i.e., Points of Light) and speaking engagements (i.e., Nexus Conference). For example, the former Atlas Corps CEO created connections for me to join a panel of speakers to discuss Humanitarian Aid after Disasters.
Apart from all these professional experiences, I also feel fulfilled in terms of my personal growth. It was truly enriching to be able to visit other cities and immerse in the arts (museums, broadway shows), music (orchestra, concerts), food, and sports.
What is your favorite Atlas Corps memory?
The GLLs will always be a favorite because they are an opportunity to reunite with all the Atlas Corps Fellows who were in my class and are assigned to other cities. It was also an opportunity to bid farewell to the graduating class and welcome new Fellows. A staple during GLLs is that we can all just learn from each other over coffee and bagels.
What advice do you have for applicants and current Fellows?
All you need to do is show up and do your share, after all, this Fellowship is really about you! Be clear about your goals—both professional and personal—so you get the most out of the Fellowship experience. Atlas Corps will surely look after your professional growth interests and link you to Local Ambassadors to help you adjust to the US way of life.
What message would you like to send to individuals who support Atlas Corps?
I am truly grateful to the volunteers, donors, and Board of Directors for supporting Atlas Corps and development workers like me. Your time, energy, expertise and resources provide us with this great space for learning exchange and self-discovery. Thank you, you don’t only help us develop our full potential but you also extend that help to our communities.
Atlas Corps is seeking professionals from Southeast and East Asia to apply for the Atlas Corps Fellowship in the United States beginning in late 2022 and 2023. Take the time now to invest in tomorrow! The deadline to receive priority consideration for Fellowships beginning in late 2022 and 2023 is May 31, 2022. Learn more at asia.atlascorps.org.
Photos from the personal archive of Raiza Cusi.