Letters From Leadership
Marking 20th Anniversary In A Year Unlike Any Other
From the CEO, Alicyn Yarbrough
Just a few months after I stepped into my new role as Glimmer’s CEO, I was tasked with leading us through a global pandemic and, later in the year, heartbreaking conflict in Ethiopia. I have to admit, my anxiety rose as I wondered if I had what it took to navigate these challenges. The distance between our teams across two continents seemed even greater than ever before. So did the reliance on us by our communities where we work in rural Ethiopia.
What has guided me most during this time is my priority to put people’s well-being first. For us as an organization, this boiled down to safety of our people and connection to each other and our purpose. First and foremost, I applied a laser-focused discernment in our work by asking at each turn what is best for the safety of our staff and the people in rural Ethiopia. Putting people first also meant creating connection during a time of deep disconnection. I prioritized open communication and sought to clarify the role and purpose for every person on our team. During this unprecedented time, I applied inclusivity in decision-making, leading to an organizational cohesiveness that was even greater than years prior.
Throughout this difficult year, I was uplifted by my team members in the US and Ethiopia, each of whom reflected back to me what it means to be resilient. While it was not the year we expected, I am incredibly proud of the constant flexibility through these dynamic times. We pulled on every resource available to us to navigate difficult decisions on how to continue our work. Our 20 years of experience in country came together to allow us to navigate the challenges and sustain as an organization in 2020. Through it all, this team has demonstrated unshakable determination and optimism as we continue forward.
The commitment of Glimmer’s partners and supporters stands out as a key highlight from 2020. Our donors and local development partners stood behind us and with us, making resilience as an organization possible. Not one stepped away or backed down. For this, we are incredibly grateful.
In rural Ethiopia, I am heartened to see women who were once powerless holding up their families during the most challenging of times. In this report, you’ll meet two women, Tadilo and Workie, who are taking care of their families and thriving. With the support of microloans in 2018, they are now bringing in steady incomes, which helped their children stay healthy throughout 2020. Tadilo and Workie grew into leaders this year—inspiring women in their communities to follow their lead. It is incredible to see women who had little opportunity and agency just a few years ago develop into empowered, independent entrepreneurs.
While this year shifted our work in many unexpected ways, it has not deterred us from our mission. This year we finalized a five-year strategic plan and launched a new data and learning framework. We are dedicated to continuing with our plans and evolving as we learn. In the 2020 update that follows, you will see that we are not slowing down—in fact, our work is needed now more than ever. I hope you will join with us on our path forward.