Charting a Path in International Development

Sara is an alum of the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows. In this blog, Sara reflects on her fellowship placement and where she is now in the humanitarian space.

Hello! My name is Sara Owens and I was a fellow with the Hilton Prize Coalition in 2018 working with HelpAge USA. I currently work with FHI 360 as a Program Associate on the Sports, Cultural, and Youth Exchanges team. FHI 360 is a global development nonprofit in Washington, DC and there are several teams that work with the US Government to organize and administer a variety of international exchange programs.

After I graduated from the University of Missouri in May 2017, I was lucky enough to find an HPC Fellows placement with HelpAge USA, a nonprofit in Washington, DC that advocates for the rights of older people within the humanitarian framework. I found that my experience with HelpAge USA was extremely beneficial to my professional and personal growth. After graduating, I was eager to be a part of an organization where I had the opportunity to learn about the many facets of international development and nonprofit management in general. Our small team at HelpAge USA gave me the freedom to have a hand in several different projects, which helped me greatly to cultivate my interests.

Through additional funding made available by the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program, I was given the opportunity to extend my time at HelpAge USA and take on more responsibility there. I was able to gain skills in grant writing, fundraising, program management, research, communications and marketing, and Monitoring and Evaluation, to name a few. My additional time with HelpAge USA allowed me to enhance my knowledge of international development programming and nonprofit management; and helped me further my qualifications for securing a full-time position after the fellowship ended.

Furthermore, the Hilton Prize Coalition offered educational webinars and trainings on topics such as humanitarian aid, program management, and professional development. Completing these trainings added to my list of qualifications and led me to a better understanding of the international development sector. Through the Fellows Program, I also gained access to a large network of peers who share an interest in international development and professional growth.

I joined FHI 360 in the fall of 2018 where I have been able to put the skills learned during my fellowship with HelpAge USA into practice. My team’s work at FHI 360 brings people from across the globe to the United States for cultural exchange programs with the goal of promoting international diplomacy and peacekeeping worldwide. I am able to work with hundreds of people a year who are passionate about improving their communities and being change-makers among their peers. 

I feel fortunate to have started my career with HelpAge USA and the Hilton Prize Coalition. The skills I gained working with these organizations has set me on a path towards continual professional growth that I will carry with me throughout my career.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the  Fellows Program, the  Collaborative Models Program  and the  Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit, or contact Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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