Radhika Prabhu

Transforming Volunteer Experiences into a Meaningful Career: An Interview with Radhika Prabhu

By Social Media Intern, Ashley Farhat

Published on March 8th, 2021

Volunteering was the impetus for me to pursue a career in international developmentThe whole adventure was due to strong women who gave me their complete and unconditional support!” – Radhika Prabhu

International Women’s Day 2021

International Women’s Day commemorates the many social, economic, cultural, and political achievements women have constructed globally and celebrates the progression of gender equality. 

To honor IWD 2021, we spoke to Radhika Prabhu, one woman who has utilized her career to create meaningful impact for women internationally. Radhika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She currently serves as Executive Director of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council at the U.S. Department of State. This position allows Radhika to work in conjunction with the private sector, civil society, and government officials in both the U.S. and Pakistan in an effort to advance women’s economic inclusion and reduce economical barriers to women in Pakistan.

Global Brigades staff members and volunteers became better acquainted with Radhika and her work during GB Week 2021, during which she served as our keynote speaker. 

Volunteers in the field working during their 2018 Brigade.

Volunteering in College

Similar to Global Brigades student volunteers, Radhika’s college experiences aided her tremendously to discover a passion to make sustainable impact both locally and internationally. Through Radhika’s personal and ambitious endeavors, her network of hardworking and successful women in college encouraged her to develop a passion for creating sustainable impact in international development through volunteer work.

Did you have any volunteer experiences in college that led you to your career today?

Volunteering was the impetus for me to pursue a career in international development! The then Chairwoman for a global non-profit, the Art of Living Foundation, was aware of work I had done through the Foundation in partnership with communities in Mexico, and she suggested I connect with an acquaintance who happened to be Mexico’s Minister for Youth and the Environment to discuss my vision. I was a junior in college and I will be eternally grateful to Shirley for her faith in me.

The Art of Living Foundation is an international volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to creating a violence-free society. Radhika utilized connections within her network to build upon a plethora of volunteer opportunities during her college years, ultimately leading her to her volunteer journey with Art of Living.

I reached out to the then Minister to explain my interests and she invited me to meet her. A few weeks later, during my spring break, I found myself traveling to Mexico, sitting across from the Minister to explain the organization’s work and my vision. The Minister was a visionary and introduced me to incredible leaders – in academia, non-profits, communities, government institutions, artists, and grassroots activists. They all helped pave the way for years of development work conducted through Art of Living in the country.

A local GB staff member and a volunteer in conversation during a 2017 Leadership institute.

Radhika was able to turn her newly found inspiration into sustainable action through her connection to Mexico’s Minister for Youth and the Environment by expressing her vision for progressive change. Radhika’s apparent passion allowed her to turn her ideas into actions.

Through a girlfriend who worked at the World Bank, I became aware of grant opportunities for community development and applied. I was subsequently awarded funding through the World Bank’s Youth Innovation Award and the World Development Report Grant to pursue a dream of engaging young people to be stewards of sustainable development. It was through these efforts that I learned how to manage programs and teams, translate my ideas into impact, and work with governments and corporations. It also led to me working for the Foundation to steward similar efforts across the United States and Canada. My mom was my constant companion throughout this time and both my parents gave me their undying support.

Radhika’s volunteer work ultimately enabled her passion for sustainable international development and allowed her to build upon and expand her skill-set. She denotes her early volunteer experiences to be the foundation of her current achievements.

These experiences propelled me to pursue my graduate degree at Georgetown and pursue a career in international development. The whole adventure was due to strong women who gave me their complete and unconditional support!

A community member poses with Business Brigade volunteers.

Global Citizenship

At Global Brigades, we encourage student volunteers to become Global Citizens through empowering communities and reducing inequalities in health, business, engineering, water, dental, and legal entities in an effort to incite sustainable impact. Below, Radhika discusses how she defines Global Citizenship.

What does the term “Global Citizen” mean to you?

Thriving. It is being proud of where you come from while appreciating and drawing wisdom from every tradition and culture in the world. In the Vaidic tradition, which my family follows, it is an idea known as “Vasudaiva Kutumbhakam”, or one world family. It’s an ancient but ever relevant recognition that we are all connected.

In 2019, Radhika was named an AAPI American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leader by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network. Radhika, alongside her peer professionals, continues to develop a footing for volunteers and future generations to initiate lasting and meaningful impact from a global standpoint. Through coordinating an inspired team across both the United States and Pakistan, her work aims to increase and improve upon opportunities for women within the Pakistani economy. To learn more about Radhika and her work as an Executive Director for the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council at the U.S. Department of State visit https://www.state.gov/biographies-u-s-pakistan-womens-council/.

A volunteer during a 2018 Honduras Leadership institute.

Become a Global Citizen

Global Brigades offers meaningful volunteer experiences, both in-person and virtually, for students interested in pursuing careers in Medicine, Public Health, Engineering, Business, and Law. To start your path toward becoming a Global Citizen like Radhiku Prabhu, visit our website to learn more about our programs.

Global Brigades