Top 30 Under 30 2020
Casey Kennedy is the education program director for Sierra Leone at CAUSE Canada. She is an enthusiastic optimist, motivated by the prospect of living in a world free from violence, poverty, and the deprivation of basic human rights. Motivated by stories of injustice, she studied international development and has since worked in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Sierra Leone to do her part in making the world more fair and just.
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Currently Residing In: Sierra Leone / Calgary, Alberta
Projects and Organizations
2017–Present: CAUSE Canada – Education Programs Director
I currently work as the education programs director for Sierra Leone with CAUSE Canada, where I oversee the CAUSE Kids education programs. I work closely with field staff to implement program monitoring and evaluation, reporting, and processes to ensure sustainable programming with a measurable impact.
2018–19: Justice Education Society – Program Officer
I was the program officer for Justice Education Society in Guatemala City, managing a project to build a technological platform for victims of violence in Guatemala, in partnership with the country’s governmental institutions and victim services providers.
Other Associations: Stardale Women’s Group, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, Fig Tree Foundation, Group Excellence Tutor
Which of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals resonates most with you?
The SDG that most resonates with me is SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The key words here are “for all.” Education is a right for all, not a privilege, and it is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Formal education is important, but we as Canadians cannot choose to be ignorant about the pressing issues existing in our society. Education about health and sanitation reduces mortality rates and disease; education about gender equality reduces gender-based violence; education on climate change reduces our carbon footprint. Issues in the developing world affect Canadians too, as we are a country composed of immigrants. We cannot only focus on domestic issues and turn a blind eye to those less fortunate who we do not see and meet in our daily lives.
What current issue is inspiring you to take action?
I have a passion for making quality teacher training more accessible in remote regions of developing countries. The quality of a teacher’s instruction directly impacts a student’s ability to meet learning outcomes and forms the way the next generation thinks. It is crucial that students learn how to critically think and analyze so that they learn to use their voice and speak up for their rights.
What advice do you have for other young adults looking to get involved in sustainable development?
Reflect on what deeply moves you… the stories that make your eyes water, the stories that infuriate you, the stories that inspire you… and volunteer with organizations whose mandates are to take action on these issues. By volunteering, you will learn the complexities of the problems and learn skills that can help build your career, all while generating a feeling of contribution and generosity within yourself that is incomparable to anything else.
“Work to ensure the most vulnerable individuals enjoy freedom from violence and the power of free choice.”