1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a social worker and researcher with skills and expertise linked to the fields of early childhood education, non profit management and community development.
2. What work do you do?
I am proudly a social worker. As an early childhood development (ECD) specialist with expertise in facilitation, programme development and monitoring and evaluation in the ECD sector, I have assisted in developing the training manual based on the nutrition guidelines for ECD centres with UNICEF and National Department of Health. I am currently the National Programmes Lead at The Do More Foundation working towards supporting the implementation of the National Integrated ECD Policy.
3. How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the industry for 10 years.
4. Has your work always been your passion? Tell us why?
It has! Children and families.
We are not expecting too much to want the very best for the most vulnerable citizens of our country. With great change impact in our world and in families daily leading to an unknown future that lies ahead. The children of South Africa deserve to have the odds be put in their favour.
5. Being a women in the industry – what does it take?
In the dynamic realm of social work and Early Childhood Development (ECD), being a woman in a position like National Programmes Lead requires a unique blend of qualities. It’s about channeling empathy and deep compassion to understand the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, fostering resilience to overcome setbacks, and becoming a voice for those who need advocacy the most. Cultivating strong leadership skills and organizational acumen is vital for steering national programs toward success.
Understanding the intricacies of diverse cultures and backgrounds fosters meaningful connections, while continuous learning keeps social workers abreast of evolving methodologies. Collaboration becomes a cornerstone, fostering partnerships that enhance resources and support networks. Amid the demands of this deeply rewarding but emotionally taxing profession, self-care emerges as a crucial practice, ensuring mental and emotional well-being. As a woman in the industry, it’s not just about embracing these qualities; it’s about using them to empower, advocate, and shape a brighter, more compassionate future for communities in need.
6. What has been the most difficult challenge of your career?
Navigating for purpose work and still holding my value.
7. What advice do you have for other women in your industry?
I am passionate about women in leadership. For fellow women in my industry, I would say, explore your strengths and your unique identity in the field of education or development. Merging these interest with an entrepreneurial/business perspective have been game changing for me. In a field as diverse and impactful as social work and Early Childhood Development, your empathy, ability to collaborate , and compassion are your greatest assets. Seek out opportunities and using a strengths based perspective, seek out the possibilities that exist and not that barriers.
Continuous learning is key – stay updated with the latest research and trends to enhance your skills and knowledge. Being relatable to real world problems is where you can have the most impact. Being evidenced driven in the way you operate again is the game changer.
Lastly, be proud of your achievements and contributions. Celebrate! So much of development work goes unseen. Use your platforms to share your journey.
8. Plans for the future?
Continue to grow in the ECD ,nutrition and parent support fields. As The Do More Foundation we are passionate about partnerships and I look ahead excited about the possibilities of this growing in the years to come
Dr Jessica Ronaasen has a PhD focusing on the essential management competencies of ECD principals in South Africa. She is Mandela Rhodes Scholar and was awarded facilitator of the year at the National Development Agency ECD Awards in 2018. She has also received an award in the civil society category from the National Development Youth Agency Awards. Most recently, Jessica was the winner of the Mandela Rhodes Foundations’ Aanit Prize 2022 for social impact in Africa.
Twitter: @jeronaasen / https://twitter.com/domore_org
Facebook: Jessica Ronaasen / The Do More Foundation