Looking back on my time at Pact with gratitude

May 27, 2024
Six people stand inside a room in a semi-circle smiling and laughing.
Caroline visits Zanzibar during her time as President & CEO of Pact. Credit: Aidan Tarimo/Pact.

When I announced my retirement last October, it felt like there was still much time ahead of me at Pact. But in a flash, the time has come for me to say goodbye.

Leading Pact has been a truly wonderful experience. I spent the majority of my career working  at multilateral development banks on policy and government programs, so the opportunity to work at Pact and on implementation has been a wonderful experience. The chance to be closer to our partners and communities and to really see the impact on the ground is part of what initially drew me to Pact, and it has left an indelible mark on me.

I’m immensely proud of what we have accomplished together over the last four years. In partnership with communities, donors and partners, we have provided critical physical and mental health and economic services to women impacted by the war in Ukraine, we have supported women entrepreneurs in Colombia and Cambodia and globally we have ensured that millions of children, adolescent girls and young women have access to key HIV information and services. In Africa, we supported communities to overcome cross-border conflict we have supported migrants in Latin America, we have fought child labor in mining communities and today we’re fostering strong independent media and civil society across the world. We have protected vital natural resources across Africa and southeast Asia, broadening access to renewable energy in Myanmar and supporting economic and human rights even in the face of trauma and conflict.

These accomplishments are even more impressive considering, for many, these last few years have also been some of the toughest years of our lives both personally and professionally. 

We weathered a global pandemic unlike anything we had experienced in our lifetimes. My first week at Pact was the week we all went remote. Conflict has also been a mainstay in many places our staff live and work, from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the coups in Myanmar and Sudan to the attack on the U.S. Capitol a little more than a mile from our office in Washington, D.C. and the horrific murder of George Floyd. Through it all, our staff have shown amazing fortitude. They have taken care of one another, while continuing to deliver on the promises that we’ve made to so many communities across the world and to ourselves to maintain our values of Integrity, Inclusion and Respect in everything we do. And we have worked hard, even during a pandemic, to build One Pact, a truly global organization that works and learns across frontiers, sectors and across individual projects to bring the best of Pact data, evidence, experience and learning together. I have said it before, and I will shout it from the rooftops; one of the best parts of leading this organization is the people. There is a unique sense of community within Pact – our precious Pact family – and I have loved getting to know the staff and visiting as many offices as I could. My only regret is that the Covid-19 pandemic kept me from visiting more offices and projects.

To my Pact colleagues, this is an exciting time within the development sector. As a sector, I believe we’ll continue to see much more ownership and leadership of projects by local organizations, governments and communities. Pact’s roots are in strengthening the capacity of organizations so that they can achieve their goals, which is going to remain critically important in the years to come. I hope we will never forget that our goal is to Build Local Promise not to substitute ourselves for local ownership and local opportunities. For surely that is the lifeblood of Pact. I will be eagerly following Pact’s yearly report measuring the organization’s progress on its commitment to locally led development!

I am also immensely proud of the commitment we made in 2020 to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. There are so many reasons we chose to make this a top organizational priority and they all come back to our mission. Poverty is inextricably bound up with climate change, and all development organizations, no matter their focus, have a shared interest in working toward net zero. We’ve made good progress in the first several years and I look forward to seeing this goal realized by 2030.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to our staff, board, partners, donors and to the community members we serve for your support and welcoming spirit throughout my time at Pact. You all are what has made this work so meaningful to me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I look forward to following your future achievements.