A new perspective for a new year

By Michele Frix, director of programs at the Seattle International Foundation

Originally published in Spanish in LOOK Magazine Guatemala, January edition.

For Michele Frix, the beginning of a new calendar year does not mean creating the typical list of resolutions, it is creating a new sense of life based of experiences and from last year. Frix shares from Seattle, the turn her life will take from what she left in 2013.

I am not afraid to admit that I have never been very good at New Year’s resolutions. I tend to make a laundry list of things to accomplish such as growing a garden in my backyard, practicing more yoga, eating more vegetables, taking my vitamins, reading more books, and of course a classic for many people: get more exercise.

This year I have decided to take a new approach to my New Year’s resolutions. Rather than a list of things to accomplish, I am creating a list of people who inspire me and have taught me lessons in 2013. That way, these life lessons will serve as a base for my actions and attitude during 2014.

I have the great pleasure to work for a foundation based in Seattle that supports individual leaders and organizations in Central America. This past year in particular was filled with many “firsts” for me. I was pushed to a new limit professionally and personally, and at times I found myself asking, “Can I really do this?”. It was always my friends and colleagues in Central America that reminded me why this work was important. But more importantly, they inspired me to look for new ways to think about life – they inspired me. Each of the following resolutions, or mantras, is inspired by them in this unique and beautiful corner of the world.

  1. Look for the similarities with others, not differences: From the Maya and the Xinca of Guatemala, to the Garifuna on the Caribbean coast and the Guna of Panama, one of Central America’s greatest attributes is the richness from the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. Severe challenges go along with such a wide array of peoples and cultures, and history in Central America is evidence of this. I am reminded by friends who come from or work in indigenous communities to seek unity in diversity. We can achieve so much more by working together, rather than against one another. At times our differences can be blinding, but for me, 2014 is a year to look for what unites us, not divides us.
  2. Value context, because it is everything:   Read the rest of this entry »

JOB OPENINGS: Central America Women’s Fund, Global Fund for Children


Program Officer, Ola Joven
Central America Women’s Fund (FCAM)

The Program Officer (PO) works closely with the Program Coordinator to ensure the strategic, responsible, and innovative implementation of donation programs to organizations and partner organizations. The Ola Joven Program is FCAM’s largest grantmaking and strengthening program, in terms of the number of supported organizations. Ola Joven has two Program Officers, whom share responsibilities of the program itself.

The deadline for applications is February 7, 2014. Click here for more information about the position and how to apply. 


Program Officer, Women and Transnational Families, and Capacity Building
Central America Women’s Fund (FCAM) 

The Program Officer (PO) works closely with the Program Coordinator to ensure the strategic, responsible, and innovative implementation of donation programs to organizations and partner organizations.The main responsibilities of the Program Officer include coordinating and facilitating capacity building activities developed by FCAM wiith its partner organizations, and support its allies programs.

The deadline for applications is February 7, 2014. Click here for more information about the position and how to apply. 


Associate Program Officer
Global Fund for Children

GFC has an immediate opening for an individual with exceptional talent, commitment, and drive to fill the role of associate program officer for Central America and Mexico to support and strengthen GFC’s grantmaking program in that region. Reporting to the program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, the associate program officer will primarily be responsible for overseeing a subset of the grantee portfolio and supporting team-wide programs and initiatives in the region. The position is based in Washington, DC.

Click here for more information and how to apply. 

Women in today’s world


“Unless Guatemala creates a society where a woman can have dignified employment opportunities, coupled with the family life that she chooses, the country will continue to miss out on one of its greatest untapped resources: women.”

By Michele Frix, Director of Programs, Seattle International Foundation

Spanish version originally published in LOOK Magazine Guatemala.

Recently in the United States, the conversation around women in the workplace has challenged the common thinking that women “can have it all”. This hot topic is rooted in the reality that women in the US are still not represented equally nor compensated fairly in the workplace, when compared to their male colleagues. Although progress is being made on some fronts, research shows that the glass ceiling is still very much a reality for women in the US. Even with decades of a strong feminist movement fighting for gender equality, women in the US still earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. Ironically, women in the US still earn less than men, regardless of their occupation, even though we’ve been earning more university degrees for the last 30 years. Unfortunately, research shows that it only gets worse with age. Women are literally vanishing from companies as you go up in the ranks. Powerful women at the top are scarce, which means the women from the bottom up often feel alone, surrounded by male co-workers.

As a young professional in the international development sector, people are often surprised to see that I am a woman when they meet me for the first time, “Does your husband mind you travel so much for work?” they ask, assuming I am married, of course. “You might as well get this out of your system while you are young, unmarried and without kids”. What kind of a message are we sending young women about their careers and aspirations for a balanced life?

In a recent article published in The Atlantic, author Anne-Marie Slaughter (professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University) addresses this question. Her piece entitled “Women Still Can’t Have it All”, resonated with millions of women striving to be successful professionals and fantastic mothers. Slaughter was and still is criticized intensely by her female colleagues and fellow feminists for taking a stance that seemed to limit women’s options. Slaughter saw it differently: “I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in,” she argued “I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).” We are setting unrealistic expectations for women, where they end up losing either way — being an inadequate parent, or an underachieving employee.

Read the rest of this entry »

Call for Applications: 2014 Professional Collaboration and Leadership Course


The Association for Leadership in Guatemala (a NGO in Guatemala) is accepting applications until January 31, 2014  for a course in vocational training. SIF is pleased to promote this initiative led by Rocío Gonzalez, 2010 iLEAP graduate.

The course takes place over the duration of 9 months (March to December 2014) and creates a space that cultivates and integrates the leadership skills, strengths and collaboration between participants. The monthly sessions are designed to create a space for reflection for local leaders with community experience who believe in their country. Ideal candidates are those leaders capable of working with different cultures and who demonstrate openness and ability to adapt to new learning experiences.

For more information and application process, please visit:

General Information

Application (Spanish)

We encourage you to consider this great professional development opportunity. This course will take place in Guatemala, and will be lead in Spanish by a professional team.

If you have any questions while completing your application, please contact the Association for Leadership in Guatemala team at info@leadershipguatemala.org.

Passionate about justice and the rule of law in Central America? Apply for a World Justice Challenge grant!


There is one week left to apply to the World Justice Challenge, a seed-grant competition designed to inspire practical programs that advance justice and the rule of law. An initiative of the World Justice Project (WJP), the competition is designed to inspire individuals to take action to advance justice where they live or work by identifying where the rule of law is weak and creating a practical solution. Proposals may be created independently or in partnership with other organizations.

Selected programs will be supported by:

  • Modest seed grants—a typical seed grant is $10,000 to $25,000
  • Connections to key individuals in the WJP’s global network
  • Increased visibility through media and communications support

Previous grantees have included:

All programs are catalogued in the WJP’s Program Library, where visitors can find inspiration to create, replicate or adapt an idea in their own country.

Since its founding, the WJP has provided over $1,000,000 in financial, communications, and network support for programs to advance the rule of law on five continents. These programs—led by farmers, artists, engineers, etc.—show the diversity of approaches to strengthen the rule of law around the world.

The deadline to apply to the World Justice Challenge is January 15, 2014. Approximately 10 grantees will be selected.

For more information on how to apply, visit the World Justice Challenge or contact worldjusticechallenge@wjpnet.org.

About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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