Lucy O’Keeffe was born and raised in Grahamstown and after nearly a decade of studying and working in the United Kingdom, returned to her hometown in January 2011 to pursue her dream of making a lasting contribution in the field of rural development work. “I believe development is not just about a particular segment of our society, it is about creating a more equitable, socially just society for all of us and I strongly believe that we all have a role to play”.
Lucy, who has been involved in community development work at one level or another throughout her life, is passionate about working with rural communities as they represent a section of our society that has been particularly marginalized and neglected. Lucy holds an MSc in Wellbeing and Human Development from the University of Bath and a BA (Hons) in History and Politics from the University of York. She has over twelve years fieldwork and project management experience in the NGO and private sector in South Africa, Kenya and the United Kingdom.
In her capacity as Director Lucy leads the organization by working with the Board and management team towards a compelling strategic vision for positive and lasting social change through collaborating with community, donor, government and civil society partners. Lucy sees her role as providing effective, innovative leadership to sustain and develop the organization and people. “One of the things I love most about my job is that there is no ‘typical’ day. It’s always different, never predictable. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to a job that connects with my values and what energizes me as a person. If you’re lucky enough to do a job like that, it makes it very easy to get out of bed in the morning.”
In a challenging and complex sector in which there is unlimited demand Lucy is motivated by the resilience of the people she works with. “It can be very challenging to know where to focus our limited resources, especially when we inevitably become so intimately involved with the lives of individuals and communities but I am continually inspired by the ability of the people we work with to cope in the face of enormous challenges”.