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Kimberly Abbott

Vice President of Marketing and Communications at World Learning

Best career advice you ever got?

Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Favorite thing about your job?

Working in a multicultural environment where you hear different languages spoken every day and meet people from all over the world. It is a constant reminder of how interconnected we are.

What would you be doing if not this?

I have always wanted to be an interior designer. I have the instincts, but I want to learn the real art and technique of design.

What’s something work related that keeps you up at night?

There are so many corporations moving into the international development space. They want to do the right thing, and they have the money to do it, but they don’t necessarily have the experience to get the best outcomes or help the most people. Leave it to the experts in the field, or better yet, partner with them.

Most memorable Communications Network Experience?

Do I have to pick just one? I think the best thing is the energy, the ideas, and knowing that you are in a room full of people who understand what you do, even if you work on very different subject areas.

Your most overused word or phrase?

Amazing or innovative.

Best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

I heard an NPR interview with an autistic boy who built a replica of the Titanic out of Legos and is now touring around the world with it. He described his autism as a gift. I loved that because he could be a catalyst for changing the narrative around autism.

Also, the KQED Mindshift podcast, CFR Infoguides, and Lesley M.M. Blume’s Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises.

And Crisis Group’s CrisisWatch and anything produced by The Fuller Project.

Guilty pleasure?

Wine, goldfish crackers and binge watching Unreal or The Crown.

How do you define success?

When your program or idea creates opportunities for people that they wouldn’t otherwise have or gives them a platform or recognition they deserve. Even one person. It never gets old.

Most important thing you’ve learned in the last five years?

Patience.

What are you most interested in learning from your colleagues in The Network — and what could folks learn from you?

I love unexpected synergies. I want to hear about new innovations in other sectors – the environment or technology or the arts – and think about how I can apply those advancements to international development, diplomacy and education. 

I have worked in journalism, politics, foreign policy and international development, in corporate, government, think tank, and nonprofit settings. I bring all these perspectives to my work in marketing and communications, and approach problems with an understanding of how these sectors intersect, but also the unique characteristics of each.

Networking is like breathing to me; I think it is because of my love of interconnectedness, and the idea that we are all here to help each other, ultimately.  My mind naturally goes to how the work one person is doing can impact the work another is doing. How can we partner and create something new? How can my contact in this sector help this organization? Who do I know here who can bring a unique perspective to this problem we are working on? What can we do to make this work better, faster, smarter?

Also, working in breaking news taught me to be a “fixer.” I look at every problem through that lens and think, “What are 10 ideas to fix this right now, right this minute?” If one doesn’t work, I move to the next, and keep generating ideas until I have a solution.

How has The Network been helpful to your work/your career? And why?

I think I have been stuck in the DC-NY corridor mindset for a long time, and it is nice to meet people from NGOs and foundations across the U.S.  Through The Network I have met fascinating people working in Idaho, Seattle, Kansas and Kentucky, for example.

It is the smartest communications networking group I have come across. I tell everyone in my field that if they can only attend one conference a year, this should be it.

 

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