Who Tells the Development Story?
Too often, the stories and opinions we read about international development are missing perspectives from developing countries. The result? Solutions, stories, and ideas about climate change, urbanization, human rights, infectious diseases, and food security that may completely overlook the best answers—those rooted in lived, personal experiences—for a healthier and more prosperous future.
In 2013, the Aspen Institute launched the New Voices Fellowship—a groundbreaking program to equip experts from developing countries with the skills to play a more powerful role as leaders and advocates in the global development discussion. Today, the program has trained and mentored more than 170 experts from over 40 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Burness was brought on at the program’s outset to serve as its media and communications partner—with a focus on supporting the fellows’ craft by editing and placing their opinion pieces. For the past 10 years, we have worked closely with the New Voices Fellowship to ensure that each fellow (about 15-25 fellows each year) has a clear vision of the key elements of an op-ed and what they want to accomplish with their piece.
When the piece is final, we leverage our contacts with opinion editors around the world—a list of over 100 personal contacts at global, regional, and national media outlets—to pitch and place the pieces in outlets that will reach the fellows’ key audiences.
Results and Impact
Since 2013, Burness has worked with the New Voices Fellowship to edit and place over 350 op-eds, in outlets ranging from the New York Times to the Jakarta Post and Zimbabwe Herald.
These pieces, and the profile they’ve helped generate for the fellows’ important work, have opened up doors for meetings with policymakers, TV appearances on major news networks, invitations for TED talks, and even new partnerships and funding.
Here’s a snapshot of some of those placements over the years:
- Guardian (UK), Marianna Assis (Class of 2021): Saving Roe v Wade is not just a US battle but one for women across the Americas
- NPR Goats & Soda, Maji Hailemariam (Class of 2021): Opinion: Africans Shouldn’t Have To Pull Strings To Get COVID Treatment
- AllAfrica.com, Deborah Nakatudde (Class of 2020): Uganda: Let’s Save Ugandan Lives with Abortion Law Clarity
- Think Global Health, Etta Madete (Class of 2020): A Wake-Up Call for Healthier Design
- Africa Report, Walter Ochieng (Class of 2019): Universal Health Care in Africa: Will things be different this time?
- Boston Globe, Michelle Dubon (Class of 2019): Desperate Guatemalan women will not be deterred, even in the face of grave risk
- Quartz Africa, Ndidi Nwuneli (Class of 2018): Fake processed food is becoming an epidemic in African urban life
- Al Jazeera, Quratulain Fatima (Class of 2018): Across the world, militaries have a sexual violence problem
- Guardian (UK), Assia Sidibe (Class of 2017): A tale of two droughts: one killed 260,000 people, the other none. Why?
- Los Angeles Times, Minda Dentler (Class of 2017): Global health efforts are in jeopardy: A polio survivor reflects on proposed cuts to foreign aid
- Stanford Social Innovation Review, Sathya Raghu (Class of 2016): A Permanent Path Out of Poverty for Small-Scale Farmers
- NPR Goats & Soda, Rasha Jarhum (Class of 2016): A Yemeni Mother’s Plea: Don’t Forget Our Children
- Devex, Rubayat Khan (Class of 2015): Technology for development: Skiing on a grass slope?
- CNN, Elsa D’Silva (Class of 2015): Don’t harass women in public
- Mail & Guardian, Evans Wadongo (Class of 2014): SA govt must face court for xenophobic violence, migration policy
- Scientific American, Jensi Sartin (Class of 2014): In Indonesia, a Worrying Silence on Climate Change
- CNN, Kennedy Odede (Class of 2013): Nelson Mandela saved my life
- Huffington Post, Mohamed Ali (Class of 2013): As Migrant Deaths Mount, EU Needs to Rethink Border, Aid Policies