Alumni Spotlight: Annette McFarland GHD ’15

Currently, I work as the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Advisor for Trócaire Malawi. Trócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic church in Ireland and a member of Caritas Internationalis. In this role, I serve as the M&E point person across multiple projects, assisting the Trócaire programs team to design, bid for, implement, monitor, and evaluate impactful projects. As Trócaire Malawi does not directly implement projects ourselves, I also have the opportunity to collaborate with partner organizations, and help build their monitoring and evaluation capacity.

Annette McFarland posing with a family in UgandaThis is a new role for me; until September 2017, I was the first ever Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC), an NGO focused on girls’ education and empowerment, based in Luwero, Uganda. I was first connected to JLMC through my classmate, Lena Alfi (GHD ’15), who previously worked with JLMC’s Executive Director when they were both at PCI. It (literally!) pays to network with your GHD cohort, so use each other: your classmates are your first, best resource for information, connections, and employment! Coming to Malawi was a sweet homecoming for me; I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi from 2011-2012.

GHD prepared me for my current work by connecting me to people and resources I continue to reference. GHD was the first place I learned about logical frameworks, results chains, and theories of change, tools that I use daily in my current role. My GHD professors (especially Steve Radelet, George Psacharopoulos, Harry Patrinos, Katherine Marshall, and the late Carol Lancaster) challenged me to rigorously critique development policies and practice in order to deliver the best evidence-based results for the poor. I was also inspired by the talks I attended on campus by prestigious guest speakers working in development, such as Amartya Sen, Kah Walla, Tony Elumelu, and Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

I would also say that my GHD summer internship with Fahmina Foundation, a small religious-based NGO focused on women’s rights in Indonesia, helped me crystallize my priority passions within the field of international development: working with and for women and girls, through a framework of human rights, on education and capacity-building initiatives. I have been fortunate; both of the jobs I have found post-GHD have afforded me the opportunity to work within all of these passion areas.

Annette McFarland posing with a family in UgandaThe relationships I built with my GHD classmates (some of whom were my roommates), are irreplaceable. I had a wonderful capstone experience with a supreme client (Peace Corps), and the best capstone partner anyone could have asked for, San-Eou Lan. I’m proud of the work we produced together for our client, and equally proud to call San-Eou a close friend… in fact, I will be officiating his wedding in May 2018!

It’s exhausting being a graduate student, but take full advantage of being in Washington, DC! Never miss an opportunity to network with your GHD and SFS colleagues, and attend inspiring events at Georgetown University and across the city, to learn more about the international development landscape and where you best fit within it. Be true to yourself. After GHD, I knew I wanted to get back out there, to the field, ‘on the ground’, to Africa. I was applying to DC-based jobs, but my heart wasn’t in it. I kept searching, and with some help from Lena, found an opportunity that took me to rural Uganda. Follow your passion and the rest will fall into place.