HPC Fellow: Vida Garcia, Global Impact

Vida Garcia is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow based at Global Impact, the Secretariat of the Hilton Prize Coalition. During her fellowship, she had the opportunity to engage in event planning, data analysis, and communication projects. Here are some of her reflections on leadership and her experiences at Global Impact.

Helping through Leadership
By Vida Garcia

woman speaking at podium

Vida speaking at a United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony.

In his 45 years of life, my father has touched many lives: friends, neighbors, former drug addicts, refugees, and my own. He has the innate ability to build long-lasting relationships; he is a paradigm of service. To my father, service is more than what you do, it is defined by who you are. From a very young age, I have aspired to affect people in the manner that my dad does, but my vision has expanded beyond my immediate neighbors. I decided to study International Relations and Political Science, so that I can better understand global affairs and, through the use of diplomacy, help solve future conflict in the world. Like my dad, I want to be a leader who inspires people and brings them together to help those in need.

There are many theories of leadership. For example, some people believe that leaders are born, not made, but in my experience the opposite is also true. Sometimes life takes you on a rollercoaster of adventures that end up shaping who you are and who you are going to become. My dad always says that everyone’s rollercoaster is different. In the end, it is up to you to either let those experiences dishearten and crush you or strengthen your character to help you grow. He says that people will try to tell you who you are based on where you’ve been, but that just means you’ll have to work a little harder to show them “no, this is who I am.” If you’ve risen from adversity by overcoming the obstacles that have come your way, people will eventually see the strength within you.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the most effective leaders are those who lead by example, whether by setting an example themselves or by following the examples of those who came before them. In my experience, some qualities that effective leaders have in common are being consistent in their work, setting up realistic and concrete goals for their teams, providing clear direction and context, and being effective mentors.

Something that is often overlooked is that effective leaders are able to inspire. From my dad, I’ve learned that true leaders make people want to follow them based on their character, morality, or work ethic. Throughout my fellowship with Global Impact, the Hilton Prize Coalition’s Secretariat, I’ve been surrounded by leaders that do just that. I’ve noticed that they find passion in their work and in turn project this passion through their leadership styles, and this has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned. By following their lead, I am developing the skills necessary to become a leader who inspires others.

Based at the Secretariat, Global Impact, I have had the unique opportunity to immerse myself in each Laureate organization and its mission. Supporting the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship and Storytelling Programs, I have gained skills in event planning, data collection and analysis, as well as communications. My primary work for the Fellowship Program is to plan a summit where three cohorts of Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows can convene to catch up, share lessons learned, and deepen their connections. The summit will allow Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows to strengthen their network of like-minded peers as they begin to advance through their careers in the humanitarian sector.

The Fellows network provides future humanitarian leaders with a network of support to lean on and glean ideas from as they do the hard work of international development. Through planning this summit, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m bringing people together to help those in need. A common piece of advice I’ve heard as a student is to find my passion and follow it. I’ve been lucky enough to have found my passion early on through my dad. Now, I’m able to pursue a career that complements it. Knowing why your work matters and that you are making an impact in people’s lives around the world is one of the most fulfilling parts of working with the Hilton Prize Coalition.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 22 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  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact  prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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