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 →

Learning Learning Learning!

Happy March everyone! Capping off February with one last blog post. The rainy season will be starting soon here in Panamá so I am soaking up the dry days and sunshine while it’s still here.

Highlights recently have been:

  • Celebrating my birthday in Panamá
  • Filipino Boodle Fight
  • Weekly volleyball clinics
  • Exploring my neighborhood in El Cangrejo

Current Projects
My first project with Calicanto is restructuring their follow-up process for program graduates. The alumni program as a whole has gone through a lot of changes over the last couple of years and is currently a hybrid of a lot of different things to meet a lot of different needs. The goal is to help clarify what information is most useful to collect in measuring program impact along with reducing the time team members spend on the follow-up interview process. I’ve spent the last month gathering context on the program through interviews, internal reports, and data sets and am now starting the process of organizing focus groups and getting feedback from my first draft of recommendations. My main objective is to determine a follow-up format that serves both the Conexiones team and the Calicanto alumni; balancing their needs for relevant programming and a streamlined workflow. This is Carnival week in Panamá which means that I’m off until Thursday and will resume scheduling zoom calls and interviews later in the week.

Something New
I just started an online ‘Project Management for Development’ course hosted by the International Development Bank. While I already have varied experiences in program, business, and organizational development, I am looking forward to learning more about managing initiatives well to ensure the best outcomes. I’ve also been reading + listening to one new podcast, research paper, report, or interview during my work week to get fresh input and context about the field I’m in.
So far I’ve explored:
– Esther Duflo’s work on Gender Inequality and Economic Development (obsessed with her).
– Outcome Management for Nonprofit Institutions by the Urban Institute
– Toward Realizing the Potential of Latin America’s Women Entrepreneurs: An Analysis of Barriers and Challenges by the Latin America Research Review

Context and input are important to me as they help me feel equipped to make decisions that are strategic and grounded in reality. By continuing to learn, I am investing in the quality of my work for Calicanto and my personal professional capacity. One of my favorite professors in college (I love you Dr. C!) often told me that I was a hard-core nerd haha – someone has to like reading this stuff! All that to say, I love learning and have enjoyed creating a more structured environment to do that in.

Something Difficult
Working in Spanish has been hard for me! I can’t communicate as well or professionally as I could in English so have to take a lot of time to write out what I am going to share in meetings, check my grammar often, and continue to study to improve. I am meeting weekly with a friend to practice speaking, reading the newspaper, books, doing word puzzles in Spanish, and pushing myself to continue to speak. I often feel silly making mistakes; it is humbling and hard but something I am committed to. I’ve been studying Spanish very intentionally for the last 10 years and really want to nail this down so I can continue to connect with my family, my heritage, and use Spanish in a professional work setting. On a positive note, I am finally understanding how to use the indirect object (don’t ask me how I literally couldn’t explain it to you, it just feels right now). Merecerá la pena!

Something I’ve Learned
My team did a Strengths Finders workshop last week and it has been so helpful to understand more about each person I’m working with. We’ve had some really honest and healthy conversations the last couple of days which I am grateful for. One thing I learned from this experience is that 7 out of my top 10 themes are in the strategic thinking category. Just being aware of this has helped me understand my own thought process + actions better. At times I can feel overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to collect before taking the first step, come off cynical + skeptical as I analyze ideas/situations/problems, and just get plain lost in the weeds of my brain! It has taken a lot of growth, discipline, and therapy to get to a healthy place with my analytical brain. Being aware that this is how I am wired has definitely helped me give myself more grace and understand the unique ways I can contribute and also be a hindrance in teams and relationships.

Something I’m Looking forward to
I get to visit my sister in Germany in 3 weeks and I can’t wait!!! Haven’t seen her in person since October when she moved there for grad school. We’re meeting in Madrid, Spain to visit some friends and family and then capping off the trip seeing some of her closest friends on tour in Berlin. So excited to give her a hug and spend time together.

That’s all for now chicos, let’s talk more soon.



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