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Emily Groves '05 and Inca ruins

After four years of researching public policy for The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Emily Groves ’05 is gaining firsthand perspective on the people behind the policy in Peru’s Sacred Valley, the Urubamba Valley of the Andes, near the Inca capital of Cusco and south of the ancient sacred city of Machu Picchu.

Groves is a volunteer for Awamaki, a Peruvian nonprofit that supports community development initiatives near Ollantaytambo, Peru. Well-known for aiding microenterprise craft cooperatives, the organization also offers programs in health, education, and sustainable tourism.

Emily Groves '05 and weaving

Women warp looms at an Awamaki weaving co-op in the mountainous community of Kelkanka (12,000 feet), where the Sacred Valley Health monthly mobile clinic is held.

Groves travels to rural communities to teach English, support mobile medical clinics, and help people with disabilities. She also advises the organization on management systems, fund-raising, and strategic planning.

“Working at the NGO level has taught me more than I could have imagined,” she says. “There is so much to learn from other cultures and other ways of life, especially when you are able to live, work, and speak the language of the population.”

Emily Groves '05 and clinic

Quechua villagers wait to be seen by a doctor at a monthly mobile clinic in the village of Yanamayo.

Groves also co-founded Sacred Valley Health to provide health care to the rural inhabitants of the Ollantaytambo District (about 10,000) by combining regular monthly mobile clinics with community health worker training. She is developing training programs and raising funds for the initiative. The goal is to expand services to all 30 villages in the district.

Emily Groves '05 and dinner

The Sacred Valley Health team has dinner with the Yanamayo village president and his family after a mobile clinic day.

An English graduate and Marquis Scholar, Groves says, “So much of what I learned at Lafayette shaped who I am today. Strong writing and research skills have been important in all of my professional roles—especially at Brookings.” Groves is the daughter of Bruce Groves ’75 and sister of Anne Groves ’13.

Groves credits Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, professor of German, for fostering her interest in languages and Dan Bauer, professor emeritus of anthropology and sociology, for her first taste of policy writing and local government work during her Technology Clinic class’s Easton riverfront redevelopment project.

In 2006, Groves won a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship and traveled to Peine, Germany, where she taught English, American studies, and British studies, and researched the relationships and stereotypes generated through German and American media.

One of her last projects at Brookings involved managing a multimillion-dollar program that used national data to conduct virtual policy experiences for the assessment of strategies to increase opportunities for children and youth from low-income families.

“I researched social policies, developed outreach plans and management systems, wrote strategic and fund-raising proposals, ran events, and collaborated with foundations and other networks,” she says. She worked with Gordon McDonald ’95, former Brookings assistant director for special projects and now a senior adviser at the U.S. Treasury.

Emily Groves '05 and hiking

Emily Groves ’05, with alpacas nearby, hikes around Mount Ausangate, the highest mountain in southern Peru.

In May, Groves will return to the United States for her next challenge, which she hopes will strike a balance between policy making and public service. Forever touched by her experience in Peru, she will continue to serve the country’s people as a board member of Sacred Valley Health.

Categorized in: Alumni, Alumni Profiles, Alumni Success Stories, News and Features
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  1. Peter says:

    Yay! Greets from Germany! Still remembering the fun times we had back then in our wg. Good to see your still coming around!

    Greets from Amsterdam!

  2. miguel salinas says:

    Nice article. Excellent work in communities that really need the help. Looks a little chilly in some of the pics. I spent some time in the Altiplano in La Paz , Bolivia – some of the pics look very similar.

  3. Sara Pozzi says:

    Wow! What amazing work you are doing! Thanks for sharing about your work in Peru. I teach high school Spanish in New York, and I will be sure to share this with my students. Sincerely,
    Sara Pozzi

  4. Laurie deLaski says:

    Great work you’re doing. Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

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