Fanta was born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire. Her thinking and the collaborative approach that she promotes in her work were shaped by her experience working in humanitarian relief at the grassroots level early in her career, and subsequently for a US-based grassroots grantmaker. Fanta firmly believes that positive long-term outcomes on gender transformation and social change can only be achieved if and when communities are at the front and center of all discussions. She strives to carry forward the grantee perspective into all programmatic and policy decisions, using a pragmatic approach that has been forged through years of designing and implementing development programs in several African countries.
Prior to joining the Girls First Fund, Fanta worked at the World bank in the Human development department. She managed loans and grants provided to government clients to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate social protection policies and programs. Her work focused on productive social safety nets (cash-based interventions to reduce poverty and improve human development outcomes), social assistance delivery systems youth employment, early childhood development, livelihood support, and post-conflict stabilization.
She holds a MA in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and a BA in International and Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I draw strength and energy from spending time with the grantees, listening to their stories and being challenged to find more effective ways to support their work. I thoroughly enjoy leading a team of dedicated professionals, who share my passion for co-creating a world in which there are no limits to what women and girls can achieve.
What brings you joy?
That first step off the airplane whenever I return to my home country; the sound of children laughing and playing; the underdog winning; Salif Keita and Nina Simone.
What three words would you use to describe your colleagues?
Committed, passionate, thoughtful.
What book, film or quote has shaped the way you think?
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” -Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living