Walter Proper

With JSI since 1989

Director of Country Field Support, Advancing Partners & Communities Project

How long have you worked at JSI?

Visiting Livingstone and Mosi oa Tunya

On August 1st, I will have worked at JSI for 30 years.

What did you do before joining JSI?

I worked for 3.5 years as a consultant training director for the US Peace Corps designing and directing pre-service training for Peace Corps volunteers in the Middle East, West Africa, and in the Pacific. As a training director, I’ve trained in Morocco, which is my Peace Corps country. Mauritania, Yemen, when it was South Yemen,  Kiribati, a small island nation, and Micronesia. 

What does your job entail? And what does your project do?

My current position is to provide senior management oversight and support to our Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) country offices.  And I have had the occasional opportunity to do some on the ground technical work in the areas of organizational development and advocacy. APC has been a wide-ranging project. We work in the areas of family planning and reproductive health, HMIS, results-based financing, post-Ebola support, with local capacity building cutting across all areas. The other part is the role I have had in mentoring and developing JSI staff.

What’s your best learning experience on the job? 

Managing the growth of the Zambia office pushed me in many ways to learn many new things and to walk the walk of participatory management.

Celebrating the Holi holiday in New Delhi, India

What is the most challenging part of your job?

My job has changed over time. I think the current challenge is funding… well perhaps it’s always the funding! Also, delays in funding from the U.S. government—and what that means for our country offices. That is our biggest challenge. But it is always rewarding to see our work actually saves lives and helps the disadvantaged.  

What is the most fascinating place you have traveled to in your time with JSI?

I am always in love with Thailand. The people are beautiful, the land is beautiful, the food is great. I have traveled all over Thailand, both for work and pleasure. The northern part of the country is interesting. I like Bangkok, and I have spent a lot of time in the south, as well. I love Thai food—especially Thai street food. 

What do you do in your spare time?

Until recently, I have been the busy father of a son, who is now 19 years old.  I’ve been pretty devoted to him. I also enjoy going to the gym, watching the squirrels steal my homegrown tomatoes, and being with friends.

Early days in Zambia, with the small JSI team and Walters son

What is something professional/personal that you would like to accomplish this year?

Well, I hope to have a smooth ending to Advancing Partners &  Communities project. 

What is something that no one would guess about you or something you would like for other people in the office to know about you?

Well, my joke is that, for a time, the President of Guinea and I were the supervisors of the Minister of Health, who was Abdou Diallo when he took a leave of absence to take that position. Dr. Abdou always tells me that my biggest accomplishment was taking a doctor and making him into a logistician.   

Jean Luke Picard with hair – JSI Halloween

What else would you like your JSI colleagues to know about you?  

I thought I would be here at JSI for just two years when I took the job!

If you could give advice to a group of people at JSI that would make their lives healthier or better, what would you tell them?

I would say for younger people at JSI, for people coming in, that ‘JSI is a great place to learn, develop, and take initiative. But if you are waiting to be told what to do or you are waiting to tell people what to do, then this is not the place.’ That is what I have told people throughout my career here. Doors are always open here at JSI all the way to Joel, but you have to knock!

A Project to Remember

My seven-and-a-half years in Zambia was very rewarding.  I was the country director of an office of three projects that went from 4 people to over 160 with a $92 million yearly budget.  To know that many of the staff at that time have gone on to do very well is very satisfying to me. I believe the work of the DELIVER, SCMS, and the Department of Defense Systems Strengthening projects did a great service to the Zambian people.  This endeavor also allowed me to help develop senior and junior people in their roles by empowering them to grow and through constant performance improvement. Also, the family planning logistics system in Jordan, which I facilitated the design and implementation of in the late nineties, is still working—with some adjustments—makes me proud as well.

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