Whitman alumna works with USAID in Africa

Karah Kemmerly

Whitman alumna Jennifer Crow-Yang ’97, now regional contact and agreement officer for the United States Agency for International Development, has spent several years working on development projects in Ghana, Africa.

USAID, a federal foreign assistance agency, was developed in 1961 when the Foreign Assistance Act became law. According to their website, USAID provides aid to five different geographical areas: Europe and Eurasia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Some of Crow-Yang’s projects have included creating more sustainable agriculture and fishing, providing disaster relief after floods, helping to organize elections, building schools in Nigeria, working with the Ministry of Education to promote girls’ education and teaching about health and sanitation in elementary schools.

Crow-Yang said that she especially liked working with children.

“Kids have energy, enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. It’s also easy to transfer knowledge once you teach them. If you teach the kids, they will teach the rest of their family members.”

Crow-Yang and her team utilized this knowledge transfer while working on their elementary school health and sanitation project. They taught children about sanitation and then children shared this information with their parents and siblings.

While working in Ghana, Crow-Yang and her team encountered several challenges. She said that she and her small office rely on teamwork to complete all of their assignments.

“There were some bad roads, and coordinating travels wasn’t always easy. In some places, we didn’t have good internet connections. But we were usually able to overcome difficulties by communicating effectively,” she said.

Despite these obstacles, Crow-Yang greatly enjoyed her work in Ghana.

“I love being in the field and seeing how I make a difference,” she said.

Crow-Yang believes that her education at Whitman was very influential in preparing her for her work with USAID.

“Whitman provided me with a strong sense of community and a desire to give back. A liberal arts education gave me the ability to approach problems creatively and innovatively in order to find sustainable solutions,” she said.

Her next assignment is in Bangladesh, where she will be working on disaster relief and health programs.