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Meet Avanti

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Once upon a time (February 2013, to be exact), I’d dropped out of my Masters in Social Work program, was working as a cater waiter and applying for jobs like wild fire… Basically, I felt like my life was in shambles. But then the stars aligned and I came across the opportunity to be a Special Events Intern with KCA. This was a DREAM, events and social justice, all neatly packaged together; my perfect pair! I applied, interviewed and got the position (things were turning around). Fast forward six months and I was bidding the KCA Team farewell, as NYC rent, an unpaid internship and catering gigs were no longer a feasible combo. But I must have made an impression beyond the baked goods I frequently brought into the office, because 8 months later I was offered the opportunity to interview for a position.

I am now part of the KCA Team as the Administrative Coordinator. I love that everyday of my job is a little different. The common thread seems to be coordinating, which is fitting as it’s in my job title. I coordinate schedules, meetings, office supplies, and interns. I also dabble in online auctions, travel arrangements and e-commerce. Sometimes my work has me darting around, but most of the magic happens in my “man cave” (better known as my desk). I would describe it as handsome, but eclectic.

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My secret to staying on top of things is my rainbow, also known as Google Calendar and coffee (dark roast with a splash of milk, almond, soy, half and half – I’m not that picky). In Google Calendar everyone has their own color, and at times it is a scavenger hunt to try to find the bit of white for a pressing meeting, and when I do I may or may not bust out a few celebratory dance moves. I think one of the best parts of my role, (there are a lot), is that I can do something that utilizes my wheelhouse of skills in the context of social justice and something greater than myself. I may not run a clinic that serves close to 12,000 people, like Dr. Pasquine, director at Alive Medical Services. Or help give a voice to more than 10,000 vulnerable children like Jackie and Eureka at Operation Bobbi Bear. But I know I am part of their team, even though I am thousands of miles away.

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Last August my life was changed when Mum Carol, the director at Ikageng, entered my life. Her heart is filled with so much passion and love, it radiates out through her smile that wrinkles her nose. It was our first time meeting and I was in essence a perfect stranger, but she hugged me with such vigor and warmth that I thought my heart would melt and my bones would break. During her time in NYC, we became a dynamic duo. She would summon me when her computer would not do what she wanted and she helped me learn a little Zulu. I reminded her to take a deep breath when she was juggling the oversight of Ikageng from thousands of miles away while also completing coursework in the Human Rights Advocate Program at Columbia University. She motivated me to strive to be the best version of myself. A picture of us sharing her first Thanksgiving is also in the “man cave” and instantly reconnects me whenever I feel distanced.

My first year at KCA has been filled with adventures, from helping move our office from DUMBO to Manhattan, to clearing out a mystery storage unit in Chicago, to running the LA Marathon to raise money. I cannot even begin to fathom what lies ahead, but I am giddy with anticipation. I’ll end with a quote since I put one up on our chalkboard everyday (and who doesn’t like to end with some Oprah?)

“When I look into the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes.” – Oprah Winfrey

  • London Bell

    This is such a wonderful and inspiring story! Keep doing great work!

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