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Alumni Spotlight: Nekpen Osuan ’10, Co-Founder, WomenWerk

October 2017–Nekpen Osuan was recently awarded a Women in Power Fellowship, a program offered by the 92nd Street Y that provides senior level women across all professional sectors the peer support, mentorship, training and coaching needed to advance them to the highest levels of leadership.

What is your background?
I am from Nigeria and was raised in Houston; I now live in Harlem. I studied at Baylor University, where I received a BA, and Columbia University, where I received an MA. I currently work as an analytics strategist and project manager in financial services.

Tell us about your work.
Since leaving I-House, I have worked for education management firms, New York City government and now a Fortune 100 financial institution. I have also done meaningful work for non-profit education initiatives and served locally on community and education councils and the Manhattan Borough President’s Computer Science and African Immigrant task forces.

How did living at International House contribute to your worldview?
Living at International House taught me that no one people, race or creed has a monopoly on great ideas and talent. I’ve met brilliant people from across the globe and learned to appreciate differences. This is an important perspective to have as I now work on a global team. It allows me to lead juniors and learn from mentors who are different from me.

What are you most proud of?
Starting my women’s empowerment nonprofit WomenWerk, which is now approaching its fifth year of offering consistent programming for women in the New York-New Jersey area. Also being named among the 2017 City & State New York Above and Beyond Women and being selected as a 2017 Council of Urban Professionals Fellow.

What lessons from International House did you bring with you into your fieldwork as you piloted WomenWerk?
Diplomacy is one key lesson that I learned at International House and use daily. As a Resident Fellow and Resident Council member, I regularly had to work with people from across the world with different perspectives. Through those experiences, I learned to see things with empathy and strengthen my ability to effectively communicate my ideas to build cohesion.

What lessons can you offer fellow I-House Alumni who are hoping to follow in your footsteps and launch a non-profit of their own?
Find the right group of people to mentor and guide you. After a tough first year building WomenWerk, I learned the importance of partnering with allied organizations and finding individuals who believe in and are willing to invest in your cause for the long haul. It really takes a village to be successful in the social impact business.

What do you miss about living at International House?
I miss the social interactions with people working in different sectors and with different passions. It can be difficult to do so now with the busy schedule friends keep and we all live in different parts of the city.

What is your fondest memory or connection from your time at International House?
The Sunday Suppers. It was great to gather as a community. The Suppers had amazing speakers and meaningful networking, which I will always cherish.