Renée Ramirez
Renée Ramirez
Panama, 2022-2023
My name is Renée and I’m spending a year in Panamá working with Fundación Calicanto. Calicanto is a Panamanian organization combatting gender-based violence through social and economic empowerment programs. I’m a Nashville girl and graduated from Belmont in 2021 with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Economics. This is such a privilege, thanks for following along! Read More About Renée →

April Update

Hola, hola, hola!
Highlights recently have been
  • Weekly volleyball (and now soccer) games.
  • A spear-fishing trip to Las Perlas.
  • My pastor from Nashville visiting for a day.
  • The first graduation of the year with Calicanto.
Current Projects

 I just presented my first project to the Calicanto team today! As mentioned previously it was an evaluation and structuring of the follow-up process (Seguimientos) for their main program. This was the first step in restructuring the Conexiones program and will serve as a backbone for the rest of the program’s development in the coming months.

Sharing an overview of what I actually did so you can understand my world a bit better:
  • Refined their key performance indicators, determining the content, structure, and method of the data we collect.
  • Designed presentations, program flows, operating documents, and engagement resources to support the implementation of their new program format for 4 follow-up intervals.
  • Wrote discussion questions, designed engagement activities, module outlines, and pre + post checklists across 4 follow-up intervals for both their female and male programs.
  • Organized everything on Google Drive (what a dream!)
  • Presented all resources to our team in Spanish.

I am finishing up final edits this week (incorporating moments to receive help on a case-by-case basis and access other foundation resources) and then I’ll be done with my first project! The last couple of months have been filled with a lot of foundational work to understand the team, program, and goals of this specific program and organization. That’s looked like a LOT of research, interviews, prototyping, reading, and meetings. There were many times when I felt lost in the weeds, but I have learned over the last few years working in development that in those moments it is important to continue to get input from outside resources and take small steps forward. It feels gratifying to see my project ‘to-do’ list whittled down and even more exciting to be providing a resource that will save the team time, provide guiding structure, and meet their needs.

*Just want to note that leading Collegiate DECA at Belmont prepared me enormously for this type of work. Being able to synthesize and communicate information in an attractive, concise, and timely manner through presentations is a skill that has been absolutely essential to my work post-grad. Vale la pena chicos!

On another work note, we celebrated the graduation of CAPTA 60 last week! Close to 30 graduates came to our in-person ceremony to be recognized for their hard work and receive their diplomas. It was truly such a joyful time!! I was touched seeing so many women come together to celebrate and encourage one another – what a delight to be able to serve and support them!

Scroll down for some photos of the graduation and check out our website to read more about the CAPTA program.

Something New

Had my first official surf lesson in Panama a couple of weekends ago and it was so fun! There is a beach about an hour away from the city that Tiff and I drove to with some friends. We ended up surfing during a mild rainstorm which was both thrilling and lovely! There was a beautiful moment when the sun broke through the clouds right as a wave was breaking and a flock of birds flew by and I think that will be burned in my memory for the next ten years – what beauty. Here’s to putting on tons of sunscreen and wiping out!

Something I’ve Learned

I have been learning recently that people only know what I tell them about both me and my work. If I don’t explain clearly, people will fill in the gaps with peripheral information and assumptions that may or may not be correct. If I want others to have a clear understanding of who I am, my experience, capabilities, and goals I need to take the space to communicate that without being sheepish. Similarly, if I want my team to understand the scope and breadth of the work that I am doing, I need to create a structure to intentionally communicate those key things. Working in Spanish has helped me see the need to communicate more than I might feel comfortable with. When I speak in Spanish, I often need to express concepts in multiple ways to ensure I am being understood in the way I intend. My personal default is to say less in most situations but because clarity and alignment are so integral to the successful adoption and implementation of these projects, I am stretching out past my comfort zone these days.

Structures I use to intentionally communicate about my work (both internally and externally)

  • Document outlines with a dedicated section for key points,
  • Communicating primary points at the beginning and end of a meeting.
  • Writing blurbs that explain my professional experience before entering an introductory meeting.
  • Strong LinkedIn, resume, + CV.
Something I’m Grateful for

I am grateful for Facetime and Whatsapp calls! I’ve just started missing my family and friends (took 4 months!!) and am grateful to be able to see and talk with them regularly. I am basically rebuilding my life in another country which is a hard but good thing. I feel grateful to have core friendships and wonderful family back home to keep in touch with.

Leaving you with a quote that’s been filling me recently by Scott Erickson

“I can help, I can be helped,
I can carry, I can be carried
I can move, I can be moved
I can repair, I can be repaired”

That’s all for now amigos,



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