Kate Clopeck: From Rocket Science to Rural Ghana

Did you know…
Over 884 million people across the world lack access to an improved water supply.
Approximately 2.5 million children die each year from waterborne diseases.
In Africa, approximately 700,000 people die each year from these preventable waterborne diseases.

Last week we mentioned how the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship inaugurated the weekly Friday speaker series. Sounds a little academic for a Friday afternoon, admittedly. But having worked for her last summer, I guarantee this week’s speaker, Kate Clopeck, founder of Community Water Solutions, is worth meeting. All you GlobeMed-inclined people oughta read up.

After graduating from UVA, Kate landed the “perfect” job as a rocket scientist (real talk, some people actually have the title “rocket scientist”). Yes, the salary and benefits were comfortable, but Kate wasn’t satisfied. In 2007, Kate returned to MIT to concentrate her graduate studies on the sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage technologies.

Over an intense January in Ghana, Kate met Vanessa Green, also an engineer. Both understood that the water needs in Ghana were not due to a lack of technical solutions, but rather in the implementation of those solutions. Intrigued by the idea of finding a sustainable implementation model, Vanessa and Kate collaborated to develop the community-scale, low-tech, social enterprise approach that formed foundation of their model. After tremendous fundraising to pilot their idea on Northern Ghana, in June 2008, Community Water Solutions was born.

Last summer, I, Leah Fessler ’15, served as a Community Water Solutions Fellow along with Zoe Anderson ’14, Kelsey Barton-Henry ’14, Meaghan Neil ’15. Our fellowship was co-led by Hudson Cavanaugh ’14 (who has also facilitated Kate’s spot on the TEDx 2013 lineup). This experience was unforgettable, and completely altered my notion of “non-profit” work. We can all vouch that Kate is not only intelligent, inspiring, and innovative, but also outstandingly personable and easy-going. If you are interested in global/public health, international development, engineering, African culture, Diet Coke (Kate’s first love), or perhaps rocket science, Kate is a contact worth cultivating. Plus we’ll get her to dance rul good:

Kate killin the Ghanaian dance moves last June
Kate killin the Ghanaian dance moves last June

WHERE: Axinn 219
WHEN: Friday, March 8 @ 12:30-1:30
COST: Free Lunch!

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