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‘It is important to collaborate as one global community’

As executive director of CEED Concordia, Hawa Keita supports youth and communities around the world
July 26, 2022
By Marco Buttice, BA 21

Hawa Keita (left) has been involved with CEED Concordia since 2019, two years after graduating from the John Molson School of Business.

It takes vision, determination and persistence to lead change for societal good. As executive director of CEED Concordia, Hawa Keita, BComm 17, puts her skills to use to help youth initiate positive change in their communities around the world.

“We arrange trainings and programs that young people need for the future in subjects such as technology, education, environmental sustainability and more,” says Keita of the non-profit organization. CEED has been active in Montreal and Gulu, Uganda since 2006, with a focus on international development and support of communities through educational services.

“We especially try to involve Concordia students to be a part of curating this project,” says Keita. “Not only for them to gain experience in international development, but to become exposed to this emerging field.”

As part of her duties, Keita is responsible for making sure that the organization’s programs run smoothly while also managing funds, media appearances and guiding a team of staff members in multiple countries to reach her goals.

In recognition of her work in her community and abroad, Keita was named a Top 30 Under 30 by Corporate Knights in 2021. The award lauds changemakers under the age of 30 who are leading initiatives in environment and sustainability. Keita is specifically recognized for her efforts for steering CEED through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the organization to adapt to a new set of challenges.

“Everything was initially uncertain, but as a collective we have been able to maintain our impact,” she says. “Our income has grown exponentially in the last year, and we have been able to extend our work to other countries such as Colombia, Ghana and Senegal.”

‘Finding a strong support system’

Keita maintains that experience gained through Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education as she pursued her studies in finance at the John Molson School of Business were vital to her success.

“The three Co-op internships I completed were really helpful in everything I’m doing today because I began to develop the many skills that I am using right now,” she says. “The degree as a whole allowed me to have the perfect fundamentals to manage all that is on my plate.”

Keita encourages current students to take advantage of opportunities at Concordia to network and explore as much as possible.

“Do not be afraid to expand beyond the classroom,” says Keita. “The university experience is not solely about the courses. It is also about finding a strong support system and getting to learn more about yourself and your interests.”

Keita is currently finishing her final term with CEED after three challenging and rewarding years with the non-profit. While she will be returning to school to pursue an MBA, she says that she will always remain invested in international development in order to support people across borders.

“For me, it is important for us to collaborate together as one global community even if we are in the same or different countries,” she says.

“No matter where my path leads, I want to impact as many people as possible and in the best way.”

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