Dec 13, 2022
049. Women and positional power in faith based NGOs: Martha Holley Newsome @ Medical Teams Int.
What are the strengths of faith-based organizations that secular NGOs may have reason to covet?
On the other hand, what weaknesses or potential blind spots may faith-based organizations face?
And is there anything specific, or ‘typical’ about being a woman top leader in a faith-based NGO?
In this *NGO Soul+Strategy* podcast episode, I interview *Martha Holley Newsome*, President & CEO of *Medical Teams International*, and we talk among others about women and positional power in faith-based NGOs, and why, based on anecdotal data, they seem to be underrepresented as compared to secular organizations.
* President and CEO, Medical Teams International
* 19 years at World Vision International (Vice President, Sr. Director and head of the Africa Region’s HIV/AIDs division, National Director, and more)
* Degree in Public Health from John Hopkins University
*We discuss: *
* Medical Teams International is a small to mid-size Christian health and humanitarian aid NGOs, working in the US as well as in 7 countries. In the US, it offers a large dental aid program as well as wrap-around medical and social service care programs for underserved populations such as the elderly, houseless people, and veterans. Outside the US, Medical Teams focuses on long-term refugee and displaced people’s medical care needs, primary care improvements, and health sector reforms
* Medical Teams aims to be a "big tent" for its staff and volunteers (as well as the target populations it serves) – and not to be exclusionary based on people's faith traditions
* Martha’s own professional journey which ended in senior leadership at World Vision and top leadership at Medical Teams International was heavily influenced by her father’s medical career and his tragic loss of life when Martha was 12 years old
* What Martha learned about change management when she was unprepared to lead a large change process at World Vision: the costs of not focusing on building a strong, broad-based change coalition and on the creation of a strong, widely shared sense of urgency for change. As a result, the intended change process petered out
* Faith-based NGOs tend to be somewhat behind when it comes to the full inclusion of women in top leadership. Possibly, this is due to unconscious bias, linked to how the religious institutions that these NGOs originate in preach about the role of women during their religious gatherings and services.
“Faith-based NGOs can suffer from isolation when they think their vision suffices. This can come with naivete, and insufficient appreciation for professional standards that sector organizations need to uphold”
“Faith-based NGOs come with tremendous assets, through the motivation instilled in staff and volunteers – our vision is our calling”
“Younger and smaller faith-based organizations can have a tendency to come barreling into a country setting...instead of being part of a coordinated approach, with other NGOs”
American Stories Podcast which profiles Martha in detail
Medical Teams' Storytelling guide background is *HERE* (created by a