Welcome to the Well Aware team! Would you mind introducing yourself briefly?
“Thank you, and of course! My name is Sarah Andrews, and I’m honored to be joining the Well Aware team. A little about me: I have over 15 years of professional experience in the international social impact sector, working on issues related to health, girls’ education, food security, and more. My husband and I have lived in Austin since 2007 – with brief hiatuses in Denver and Nepal – and we have two young daughters (10 and 7) who keep us very busy!”
Can you share a bit about your background and professional experience that led you to join our team?
“After graduate school, I worked as a beat newspaper reporter in Boston, mostly covering crime and local politics. But my favorite assignments were always those that allowed me to explore complex human and social issues. When I decided to move on from the newspaper industry, I felt drawn to use my communications skills to help nonprofits who were working on these complex issues, so I segwayed into nonprofit marketing and eventually organizational strategy and management.
From there, I had the opportunity to serve as the executive director for an organization working on educational access for girls in rural Nepal, primarily by addressing the infrastructure barriers that were keeping girls out of school. While often the barrier was a lack of adequate classroom space, in many communities we’d find that girls were being kept out of school because they had to spend hours each day walking to collect water for their households. Creating access to water in these communities had a huge impact on education rates for girls and brought so many additional benefits to the whole community.”
"Witnessing this first hand has given me a deep respect for and understanding of the Ripple Effect of impact that Well Aware talks about in relation to water access. It really does change everything."
What are some of the key highlights or achievements from your career that you’re particularly proud of?
“I feel very fortunate to have worked with many amazing social impact organizations throughout my career. A few highlights include: being part of the capacity-building team to construct the very first earthbag school buildings in the Everest region of Nepal, including the first female college dormitory in the district capital (which enables 80 girls per year to attend university); leading a comprehensive disaster and rebuilding response in communities impacted by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; launching physical activity programs for children in schools in Colombia and Kenya; working on legislation in Texas to fund meal delivery programs for homebound individuals; and, as a reporter, covering the first same-sex marriage in Newton, Mass.”
Your new role is Chief of Staff. What are you most excited about stepping into this role?
“Everything! I feel fortunate to be arriving here at a time when the team is launching initiatives to expand on Well Aware’s 100% success model in the water sector to include programs that more specifically address sanitation, hygiene, and public health, especially given the significant impact these programs will have on young girls and women.”
What are your short-term goals as a team member?
“To work with the team to build a new strategic plan for growth and expansion over the next three years, to help scale up our end-of-year giving initiatives so we can realize our goals, and to come up with a clever nickname for myself to cut down on internal confusion now that there are two Sarahs on the team!”
What are some of your long-term goals as a team member?
“Well Aware champions and implements innovative ideas that have the potential to transform the water sector on a massive scale, and our commitment to locally-led development and sustainable, lasting solutions sets us apart. As an organization, we have the unique ability to not only cultivate the resources needed to address the challenges communities are facing, but also empower communities to implement solutions.”
"Long term, I look forward to working with the team to continue to build on this culture of depth and innovation, form new partnerships, and help more communities in East Africa and beyond receive clean water for life."
Do you have a personal work philosophy or mantra that guides your approach to your role?
Yes, and probably too many to list! But in terms of guiding my approach to work and life, a philosophy I try to follow is to focus less on the traditional outcomes we might associate with success and instead focus on cultivating the behaviors that make us deserving of success, such as integrity, consistency, and right action. This doesn’t mean I don’t set or endeavor to achieve big goals, but I find when the primary focus day-to-day is on becoming deserving of success then the outcomes usually follow.
Another daily go-to is the principle of “mood follows action,” which helps me remember that taking action in small ways – moving energy through physical activity, meditation/breathwork, making a to-do list, tackling the hardest task at the start of the day – helps me to maintain energy and alleviate feelings of stuckness if and when they arise. This works for organizations, too, as a reminder that we can’t control everything, but we can control our actions and the way we show up.
Outside of work, what are some of your passions and interests?
“I’m a lifelong yogi and certified yoga instructor, and while I don’t teach quite as much as I used to, I still make it to my mat most days to practice. I also love being outdoors, hiking, walking, photography, reading, and writing. And, of course, traveling, and spending time with my family.”
Anything else you’d like to share with our supporters?
“Just that I am honored to be doing this work alongside the Well Aware team and all of our supporters, and I look forward to hopefully meeting many of you at a Well Aware event in the future! Please also feel free to reach out to me to introduce yourself anytime.”