Get to know our Executive Director and Founder, Alphonsine Anderson

The Inspiration for Rising Above the Storms

Last month, Alphonsine Anderson had two wonderful opportunities to share her story and the experiences that inspired her to create Rising Above the Storms.

The first came from Cisco, the employer of Alphonsine, and many RAS volunteers and donors. This year, February 15-19 was a special week at Cisco. It was the first World Social Justice Week, run by Cisco’s Inclusion and Collaboration Communities. The week was full of special guest speakers, including Alphonsine, that discussed a variety of topics on race, equity, human rights and much more.

Alphonsine had the opportunity to share the story of her family, including her parents and two older siblings, who were murdered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. She discussed the vulnerable youth in Rwanda and how Rising Above the Storms aims to help and support these children. “I see myself in the eyes of those children. I could have ended up on the street. I could have been one of them,” Alphonsine says.

Additionally, Alphonsine spoke to the hope RAS brings for a brighter future. Sharing her own story, she says, can hopefully encourage others that no matter the difficulties we face, we can do something to be somebody or to positively impact someone else, as Alphonsine did by supporting 5 family members while she also attended graduate school. Just as one person can impact 5 lives, RAS aims to expand our reach to make a difference in hundreds of lives.

To hear more about Alphonsine’s story, how to get involved, and the vision, mission, and values of RAS, listen to her World Social Justice Week talk.

Also in February, Alphonsine was interviewed on the podcast “We Are for Good: The Podcast for Non-Profits.” The hosts of the podcast asked Alphonsine about her inspiration for RAS and how she got to where she is today. Alphonsine shares pivotal moments along her journey, such as when she first received a salary and could buy her siblings new clothes. It’s “the greatest memory of my life,” she says.

You’ll also hear from Board Member and Director of Marketing and Digital Experience, Devin Hood on what led her to get involved in RAS. Devin shares how the Board had to pivot from a 5-year plan to a plan of survival and recovery during COVID. She also talks about the RAS digital and social strategy and the importance of being vulnerable and standing in your truth.

Listen to the full podcast to hear more about RAS’s advocacy for children in Rwanda, how the organization has grown, and its vision for the future.

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