Ana Maria Philippi (KILP 1), Directora Ejecutiva, Fundacion de Vida Rural (The Foundation of Rural Life), Santiago, Chile
This article was originally published in the December 200 issue of the KFLA Newsletter.
Ana Maria Philippe Leading a team of 100 staff and consultants, Ana Maria Philippi is responding to the educational needs of the rural poor across Chile. Through her nonprofit organization, Fundacion de Vida Rural, Ana Maria is combating poverty by operating a boarding school for children, and providing vocational and technical training for men and women. The various programs are aimed at developing the capacities of those living in poverty to allow them to improve their quality of life. Ana Maria, now in her twenty-first year as executive director, takes pride in having built the organization from a small to a mid-sized operation that is well-regarded, responsive, and effective. Her approach has been to ascertain the educational needs in rural communities and forge alliances with the public and private sectors to secure the necessary resources to address them. Says Ana Maria, "We are well-known and respected because of our accountability, responsiveness, transparency, quality work, and our capacity to convene people in the field." Her personal view of management is informal and team-focused. Ana Maria also remains involved in all the organization's teaching, traveling, and organizing activities.
"I'm convinced that I am not considered a 'normal' director of a foundation," she says. "I approach the staff as friends, showing no preferences within the group. The responsibility each takes for his or her task makes the difference when we work as a team." She adds, "I try to be behind, to be invisible. In many occasions, people don't know I'm the director. There's no need for that." Ana Maria's passion is people. She says, "I learn so much through my interaction with others and with people who are so poor and have a lot of needs. But they are strong and they teach me about life, how to live my own life and how to understand others' lives." While she draws energy from those she works among, she keeps motivated by continually saying to herself: "Keep going; many others need you (and you need them)."
Ana Maria's advice to aspiring leaders in her field is both instructive and informed: "Be honest about your capacities and limitations; don't go beyond them. Be open to others; try to find solutions with the participation of others. Don't disguise who you are to get the approval of others; be yourself through the good and the bad. Try to find or create spaces to share with others, beautiful spaces."