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Knowledge Management for Accessibility With Hilary Wartinger of Save the Children

Introduction

Developing a web-based knowledge bank is only half the job.

How do all those juice informational resources in your knowledge bank get into the hands to the people who need them?

And what if those people aren’t in modern, internet-connected cities?

On the latest episode of the Nonprofit Thrive podcast, Hilary Wartinger, Senior Advisor on Knowledge Management at Save the Children, talks about managing informational resources online. Hilary shares her journey from the Peace Corps to Save the Children, discusses the intricacies of knowledge sharing in the nonprofit world, explains the importance of understanding audience needs, and talks about the role technology plays in bridging communication gaps.

Today's Guest
Hilary Wartinger

Hilary Wartinger

Hilary Wartinger is the Senior Advisor of Knowledge Management at Save the Children, focusing on the Healthy Newborn Network. With a wealth of experience in humanitarian contexts across Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Somalia, Hilary is committed to addressing crucial knowledge deficits in newborn health. Before Save the Children, she was pivotal as the Advisor of Sexual and Reproductive Health at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Hilary’s background includes service as a Peace Corps volunteer and academic achievements such as a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, alongside degrees in journalism and international relations. She specializes in devising strategies to ensure the accessibility and equity of health information in the digital sphere.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [3:24] Hilary Wartinger highlights why early exposure to diverse experiences shapes career trajectories
  • [4:39] How the Peace Corps sparks a passion for impactful international work
  • [9:06] Can small, personal impacts outweigh larger objectives?
  • [16:35] Choosing between field and headquarters roles in humanitarian work
  • [19:55] Why managing public health knowledge online is complex and demanding
  • [29:03] Promoting knowledge equity and democratizing health information
  • [31:55] Overcoming language barriers and technical jargon in global health communication
  • [37:23] Identifying your diverse target audience accurately
  • [41:59] Adopting mobile-first strategies to meet phone users’ needs

In this episode…

Knowledge management plays a crucial role in public health and organizational development. It involves the systematic process of managing, storing, and sharing an organization’s wealth of information and data. This encompasses reports, data, and lessons learned from both successes and failures. The objective is twofold: ensuring internal accessibility for staff and partners and making this knowledge available to the wider world.

The move towards equitable knowledge sharing aims to elevate and integrate diverse sources of wisdom. Public health professional Hilary Wartinger emphasizes this shift, acknowledging that all knowledge — whether from academic research, local traditions, or indigenous practices — is valuable and powerful. By fostering an open-source approach to information, organizations can promote a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of public health challenges and solutions.

On the latest episode of the Nonprofit Thrive podcast with Ben Freda, Hilary Wartinger, Senior Advisor of Knowledge Management at Save the Children, talks about managing knowledge online. Hilary shares her journey from the Peace Corps to Save the Children, discussing the intricacies of knowledge sharing in the nonprofit world, the importance of understanding audience needs, and the role technology plays in bridging communication gaps.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • “Your role is to tell the story, not to influence what’s happening immediately in front of you.”
  • “The essence of what we’re saying [on HNN] is staying the same, no matter the translation.”
  • “We have this image of someone sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee. But it’s not necessarily how it’s done everywhere.”

Action Steps:

  1. Embrace mobile accessibility for digital platforms: This ensures that resources reach practitioners who rely on their phones for information, addressing the challenge of delivering content to global audiences.
  2. Consider volunteer service opportunities: Hilary’s transformative experience in the Peace Corps showcases the impact of ground-level engagement and the value of cross-cultural competency.
  3. Utilize data analytics to understand your audience: Analyzing site traffic and user behavior can help tailor content to the specific needs of your beneficiaries.
  4. Incorporate equitable knowledge-sharing practices: Emphasizing the accessibility of technical terms can make vital information more understandable across different languages and skill levels.
  5. Leverage an advisory group for diverse expertise: Including thematic experts in the design and content strategy process can shape a more effective and comprehensive digital presence.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by BFC Digital.

At BFC Digital, we help nonprofit organizations thrive on the web so they can improve the world.

Our team of creative and tech experts understands that an online presence can help foundations and organizations accomplish their missions. That’s where we come in. Over the last decade, we’ve advised our clients on web design, front- and back-end development, and tech support.

We’re committed to supporting a select set of clients who continually inspire us with their vision for a better world.

To learn more on how BFC Digital can assist you in realizing your organization’s mission, visit bfcdigital.com, email us at info@bfcdigtal.com, or call 646-450-2236 today!

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:06

Welcome to Nonprofit Thrive, a podcast where we learn from the humans who are helping nonprofits succeed in the digital world. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Ben Freda 0:23

Welcome. I’m Ben Freda, host of the show where we share the stories of leaders in the nonprofit space. The people behind the organizations, the foundations, the companies that help nonprofits change the world. We’ve had a number of episodes by now. You should check them out. For instance, we had recently an episode with Kate Purcell of KP Creative Strategy, where we talked about creative design and branding for social change, and we also talked about annual reports, which is something I’ve been on about for a little while, particularly how to make them digital. Another episode recently we had was with Eric Brown of Brown Bridge Strategies, who helped me sort of learn more about communications for impact and how if you’re using the term general public, you aren’t really talking about anything. I guess it doesn’t mean anything. I didn’t know that. So it was interesting. If you’re interested in those topics, please go and check those out. In the meantime, this episode is brought to you by BFC Digital, where we help nonprofits thrive on the web. If you work at a nonprofit or a foundation or any other type of social change organizations, I’m sure you know that unless you’re doing a big old, chunky web project with a budget in the 10s of 1000s, it’s very difficult to find reputable, responsive, friendly help to get your web issues taken care of. That needs to change. At BFC digital, we help our clients succeed on the web by being the web colleagues you wish you had at your own organization. We can help you fix bugs. We can help you evolve your web presence, design new campaign pages, integrate that donation system that’s wonky and weird, and we can do all of it without ever having you fill out a support ticket, because support tickets are insane and drive people crazy. You really just want to talk to a person. Go to BFCdigital.com to learn more. So today, I’m exceptionally pleased to have on the podcast someone who’s going to be help, going to be able to help us get to the bottom of issues that are faced by a lot of nonprofits that we work with. That is how to manage knowledge online. Knowledge Management online. Hilary Wartinger works for Save the Children US as a senior advisor on the knowledge management team, she supports healthy newborn network, which is attempting to address critical knowledge gaps in newborn health around the world, particularly the developing world. Her work in humanitarian settings has brought her to Bangladesh, Nigeria, Somalia, where she worked on a pilot program testing the The Newborn Health in Humanitarian Settings: Field Guide. Additionally, she’s led content development at a New York based nonprofit website. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She served three years in Eswatini before earning a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University. She also has degrees in journalism and International Relations. Very accomplished woman. Welcome.

Hilary Wartinger 3:23

Hilary. Hey, Ben, thanks so much for having me.

Ben Freda 3:26

Thanks so much for joining us. I’m really psyched to have you on today, and I know a little bit about your past, but for our listeners who know nothing about you, why don’t we start by telling us a little bit about you know, what you wanted to do as a kid. Let’s say where you grew up, and how you first got the idea that, Oh my gosh, I might want to go on, you know, be a Peace Corps volunteer.

Hilary Wartinger 3:45

Yeah, great question. I think when I was growing up, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I grew up in small town, Vermont, and so, like, really rural. And I think one of my earliest memories was really recognizing that Vermont, while beautiful and wonderful place to grow up, was not where I wanted to be, that there was so much more to the world. And so I really, I grew up, really wanting to travel and I wanted to find a job that would get me out. And so I didn’t really know what that was, yet. I learned about the Peace Corps through one of my, two of my high school teachers actually were both Returned Peace Corps volunteer. Corps volunteers, and so they both spoke very differently, but also very passionately about their experience. And so at the end of high school, I kind of had that in the back of my mind of like, All right, yeah, this could be, this could be a cool thing to do, but let’s get through college first.

Ben Freda 4:39

So that was, so that was, that was late high school. Do you remember where the high school teachers had been posted?

Hilary Wartinger 4:44

Yes, I do, actually. So one of them was in Kenya in the 80s, and then the other was in either Honduras or Guatemala. One of those two, I can’t that. I don’t exactly remember. And it was, was really interesting, actually, about them is. And one of them was my favorite teacher, and one of them was my least favorite teacher. And I thought, how interesting that someone like two such, like vastly different people who I had such vastly different opinions of, could have had such amazing experiences, and something like the Peace Corps, right? And so it really, it really, like, stuck with me, you know, all through, all through high school, or, you know, in my high school years and then into college, like Peace Corps was kind of always the end goal, at least for that part

Ben Freda 5:30

of my life. Interesting, interesting, yeah,

Hilary Wartinger 5:33

so I, I actually, um, I went into college thinking that I wanted to do, like, international relations, and that’s what I started studying. And then at Boston University. And then when I was in school, I found out that bu had this great program where you could do, basically, you could they had all these, like, smaller colleges that offer different degrees, like as part of the school, and so you could get two degrees in four years. So I always had a bit of an overachiever.

Ben Freda 6:07

Most people go to college and they’re like, I’m gonna get a degree. You’re like, I’m gonna get two,

Hilary Wartinger 6:11

and I get two. So I did that. Led me to get a degree in international relations, but also journalism, with a focus on photo journal,

Ben Freda 6:21

really? Oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah, so you were into taking photos.

Hilary Wartinger 6:25

Yeah, for a little while I thought I wanted to be a war photographer.

Ben Freda 6:28

Wow. Did you have anyone who is a war photographer?

Hilary Wartinger 6:32

I have through the through the programming or through the school? Wow. Actually, it’s kind of side note, but my graduation speaker was from that school was as a photographer named Tyler Hicks, okay? And he’s a photographer for the New York Times. He was in a graduate of my program, which is why he was our commencement speaker. But he spoke with us about three months after he had been he and four other three other journalists had been kidnapped and held for ransom in Libya.

Oh, my god, wow. So it was kind of a crazy like, he came back from that, and almost immediately went and spoke at our spoke to us. And I just remember thinking, like, how is he doing this? Like, how is he not traumatized? And how is he still a photographer? He still won a war photographer. I think he’s won, like, amazing prizes, and, you know, amazing work. And

Ben Freda 7:26

he’s still like, Yep, I this is what I want to do. This is my vocation. I did get kidnapped, but

Hilary Wartinger 7:31

I’m still gonna keep doing it. Yeah. Oh, and

Ben Freda 7:33

did that kind of, like danger kind of appeal to you, or were you was that a turn off the

Hilary Wartinger 7:37

danger? Um, appealed a little bit, but ultimately, what didn’t appeal what and why I stepped away from that was there’s a detachment in photojournalism and in journalism that you really have to have, because your role is to tell the story. It’s not to influence what’s happening immediately in front of you. And I really struggled with that part of it, with the inability to, like, you know, if something bad was happening in front of me, to not be able to do anything about it physically in this moment, to just be more passive and hope that the story I’m telling influences change down the line, you know,

Ben Freda 8:15

right? Yeah. And I guess, I guess, to be honest, if you were an absolutely objective journalist. You wouldn’t even care about the like. You wouldn’t have an outcome you wanted. I suppose you would just want to reflect what’s happening in reality at the moment, without any agenda, which would be so hard when you’re talking about war zones, absolutely,

Hilary Wartinger 8:34

it’s incredibly difficult. And side note again, I don’t know if you’ve seen the new movie civil war that just came out, but to see it on Saturday. Yeah, okay. It’s all about this. Oh, wow. It’s told from the perspective of two war journalists. Wow. And it was, I was watching this line. I’m so glad I didn’t do this. I could not have done this. I was not have been good at this. This is not me

Ben Freda 8:59

so much. Yeah, internal tension and guilt and shame and craziness about about that, I’m sure. All right, so you decided, all right, I’m not going to be a war journalist, but Peace Corps after that four year period still sounds pretty good. So you applied, still sounds good. So I applied,

Hilary Wartinger 9:17

and I got accepted in end of early 2012 so I went, I started my service in 2012 in Eswatini. At the time it was known as Swaziland. They have since changed their name back to away from the colonial English name to their to the what they call themselves, like to the name of their own country and in their language.

Ben Freda 9:42

Side note, I very rarely, I don’t list. Typically, when I’m doing these podcasts, I don’t list out a ton of questions, a few, not a ton, because the conversation goes where it goes. But one of the questions I had for you was, where’s Eswatini? I’ve never before. Okay, so it’s the old Swaziland,

Hilary Wartinger 9:57

Swaziland. And even more, do. Biography for you. It is in southern Africa. It’s one of two countries, Lesotho being the other that is almost completely surrounded by by South Africa, gotcha. So Lesotho is 100% shares 100% of its borders with South Africa. Swatini shares 75 with South Africa, and the other 25 is with Mozambique Gotcha. So to give you some geography, but it’s fully landlocked. It’s really small. It’s only about the size of New Jersey, and has about a million people in it at any given point. And it’s a fascinating country because it is ethnically and tribally one people Gotcha. So there’s not a lot of it’s also one of the last absolute monarchies in the world, right? That King is fascinating. If you ever want to read about Game of Thrones in real life, like, go check that out. He has, I think, at last count, 15 wives, and has been king since he was 18 and is in his 40s now. Yeah,

Ben Freda 11:02

wow, wow, yeah. Did you get to this gentleman? Oh,

Hilary Wartinger 11:06

  1. Oh, God, no. He’s highly elevated and protected. The closest I got was one of the princesses.

Ben Freda 11:14

Oh, one of the princesses being one of his daughters,

Hilary Wartinger 11:17

or one of his No, like one of his sisters or something. It’s like a, it’s a his father had 70 children. So, you know, there’s a lot of like royal offspring, royal family.

Ben Freda 11:34

That makes sense. So what were you doing? So you went from, I guess, DC or Boston, Boston, to Swaziland or Eswatini, and where were you posted? And what did you do

Hilary Wartinger 11:45

there? I was posted in kind of the southeast part of the country, and was in a mountainous area known as chisolwani, and I primarily did community health projects. One of the other kind of sad like things about Swaziland is they at the time, I think it might be different. Now, I haven’t looked at the stats recently, but at the time when I was there, they had the highest prevalence rate of HIV in the world. So as I said, it’s a small country. There’s about a million people. And at the height of the epidemic there, there was 25% of

Ben Freda 12:24

the population have had HIV. Oh, my God, that is a lot. What is it? Now, you know,

Hilary Wartinger 12:29

I’d have to look it up. It’s probably not, it’s smaller. But again, it’s, you know, HIV being a lifelong disease. It’s, it’s one of those things that it takes a while for that to drop. Sure, I could I could Google it, but yeah, don’t, yeah, we could, yeah, we don’t need to. We can add again. Let

Ben Freda 12:47

the listeners do that themselves, I suppose. But yeah, that makes sense. And so you were working in community health projects

Hilary Wartinger 12:54

there, yep. So everything that we would do is because of that high prevalence, right? Everything, all of the projects we did had to connect in some way to HIV, but it wasn’t hard to do that. Basically everything would eventually connect. So I did some projects in schools, working with mostly teenage girls to support life skills and empowerment projects, that sort of thing. I also did a lot of work with kind of the local preschools, probably the closest analogy, but it’s essentially because there’s so many, because of the high HIV rate, there’s a lot of orphans and vulnerable kids who are living with grandparents or aunts and uncles, and so there’s community support systems to help provide preschools, but also nutrition, like food and that sort of thing. And so I did a lot of nutrition work, supporting garden growth and healthy eating, and especially for those kids, because they’re often, you know, they’re one of a bunch in a family, and sometimes not supported the way they should be, right? Gotcha. Or they’re being taken care of by their grandma, grandmother, you know,

Ben Freda 14:07

so Right, right? And did you feel like you were making a difference while you were there?

Hilary Wartinger 14:12

Yeah, it’s certainly a smaller difference than you think you’re going to have, especially as an idealistic young 20 something, I was very convinced I was going to change so many lives, and everything was going to be, you know, a big, empowering, amazing, wonderful thing, where I could look back and like the whole village would thank me, right? You know, that sort

Ben Freda 14:34

of thing, and the whole, it didn’t end up that way. I’m sure, I’m sure, you made quite a difference. Oh,

Hilary Wartinger 14:38

I mean, I, I made a lot of I made a huge difference, but the difference I made was more on a person to person level, and was smaller and smaller changes. Like one of my friends there, I remember at the very start she of my time there, she would see me carrying a water bottle around for drinking water, and, you know, kind of stand. Heard carrying out gene with you. And she finally asked me, like, why I do that? And I told her, so I can always have water with me. And she was like, Well, why don’t you just buy a soda or, you know, whatever. I was like, well, and so through our conversations, she unders, she started to kind of like, get this idea of, like, oh, maybe a water bottle is a good idea. Like, maybe I should drink more water, which is not necessarily something that was like culturally done. It was you drink coffee or tea, or you drink soda or, you know, and so she, by the end of my time, there she was, she had a water bottle, and she was carrying it around with her. So it’s little changes like that. Yeah, it was certainly a lot more of of the kind of thing that I felt I had, and the bigger impacts. But I can say, you know, I walked when I left my my community. I had started a couple of gardens and public spaces. I had refurbished the preschool and supplied it with some books and toys. We built a library and the public’s and the two schools. So, I mean, there were certainly tangible differences that I made interesting.

Ben Freda 16:01

That’s really interesting. I think there is, I imagine that idealism is shared by a lot of people who join the Peace Corps, who think, I’m going to change the world, and then you get out there and you’re like, Well, it’s a little harder than I thought. I guess it’s not as easy as a 20 something deciding to change world. I guess, you know, no, that’s interesting. That’s cool. So you, you finished your so that’s a two year posting, right? It’s a two

Hilary Wartinger 16:22

year, but I actually did a third. You can always extend with Peace Corps, they want you to stick around if you’re having a good time. So I ended up staying a third year.

Ben Freda 16:31

Got you and then what did you do after that grad school? So I

Hilary Wartinger 16:35

applied to grad school in Swaziland, and ended up I actually figured out while I was there what public health was. This was pre covid, so no one now, you know, isn’t it was a little more niche than it is now, right? And so I didn’t, I’ve been doing these public health projects without really knowing what it was or how to make a career out of it, right? I got you. And so in talking to other people who are working there, and people at Peace Corps and you know, kind of expat community, I realized like, oh, I want to keep doing work like this on bigger scales. I need a public health degree.

Ben Freda 17:14

So you go, you get your public health degree. And then after that, how do you you’ve basically never wavered in terms of, I want to work in, you know, humanitarian development, or whatever, um, how, what did you have in mind in grad school that you were going to do afterwards? Like, what? What were your dream jobs, where, how did you end up? Where you ended up? Yeah, I

Hilary Wartinger 17:32

think, um, I wanted to work in places. I was humanitarian was, was the focus. But really, what it came down to is, I wanted to work in places that didn’t have a lot of resources. Okay, I like being a problem solver. I like kind of as I, you know, along the lines of earlier like, I like the more difficult places, like, I like to be in places where things are a little harder, yeah, not necessarily the danger, but, you know, the challenge of it, sure. And so I really gravitated to humanitarian areas, and this was in like 2017 2018 so the Bangladesh Rohingya crisis was just starting, and so I had the opportunity to go to Bangladesh and work to help set up some clinics with The goal was to help set up clinics in the large Rohingya refugee camps,

Ben Freda 18:26

right? And so those are on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, right? And so people have been fleeing Myanmar and they end up in Bangladesh, yeah, is that right? And then, okay, and then they’re there, and then

Hilary Wartinger 18:36

they’re pretty much all dumped into these kind of there’s really, at the time, there was one really big camp. I think there’s more now where they’re a little more, they’re still the main ones, but there’s a couple more spread out throughout Now, throughout the area. And so I did that for a few weeks, and ultimately they didn’t. The organization I was working for didn’t end up setting up those health clinics there, but it was another just great opportunity to see and to be on the ground and figure it out. And I’d also kind of, at that point, I there’s really two tracks you can take as a humanitarian. You can either be in the field going or be a responder. We call them, like, be on the first response teams, where you’re you’re spending a lot of your time abroad. You’re spending your time in these zones, like doing the work on the ground, being being there on the front lines, or you can get the headquarters based jobs where you’re working out of, usually New York, DC, European kind of like Geneva, Rome, UK, that sort of thing. And at the time I, you know, I just come from three years living abroad. I was living in New York, and I was really loving New York, and wanted to kind of settle down a little bit and at least spend some time living in New York as an adult. And so I looked for a job that would be more headquarters based.

Ben Freda 19:55

Got you Okay, but how did you you? At some point you ended up in Somalia. Oh, yeah,

Hilary Wartinger 19:59

that was. In grad school. So I did. I spent three months in Somalia as part of my grad school program. And you told

Ben Freda 20:05

me a story once about the airplanes. Oh, yeah, share that story. Yeah, sure.

Hilary Wartinger 20:11

So I was in a part of Somalia called Puntland, which is kind of, there’s, I would say there’s kind of three areas to Somalia. There’s Mogadishu area in that area, which everyone knows about. That’s the area that is like most there’s the most conflict and most issues there from the like geopolitical side. There’s Puntland, which is kind of the medium area. And then there’s Somali land, which is kind of its own autonomous area, and it’s very peaceful, or mostly peaceful. And to fly into or to fly into Somalia, regardless of where you’re going through the UN you have to go through all three of those places. And you kind of they make stops along the way.

Ben Freda 20:58

It’s like a bus with like stops, but

Hilary Wartinger 21:01

a plane. So everyone flies into Mogadishu. It goes from from Nairobi to Mogadishu, to land, to Somaliland, and back, like, that’s the loop, gotcha. So everyone flies into Mogadishu. So even though I wasn’t going to Mogadishu, I flew into Mogadishu. Yeah. And so I’m on that. I’m on a un plane run by World Food Program, and where it’s a small, probably 10 seater plane to, you know, two seats on each side, kind of thing, sure. And we’re flying in over the ocean into Mogadishu, and it’s beautiful. And looking out the window, it’s stunning. And like, Okay, we’re coming into land. This is great. And then all of a sudden, the plane tilts dramatically. And instead of looking out at this horizon, I’m looking down into the ocean. Oh my god. And then we do these kind of crazy turns and big maneuvers and twists and and we’re like, upside down. We’re not upside down, but, you know, we’re this way, we’re that way, or whatever. And then we’re on the ground, and I’m just kind of sitting there, like, I just happened. Because I’ve been on plenty guys like, I This isn’t how we supposed to land. And a man sitting across from me kind of looks over and smiles. He goes, Huh, first time was that. And he explained that it’s to that all of the planes do that blending into Mogadishu to avoid anti aircraft missiles, which, I feel like that’s the kind of thing you should tell a person when you get on the plane, that we’re going to be doing this. But regardless, it was an entertaining experience, which, which kind

Ben Freda 22:37

of begs the question of, and I think you were talking when you told me this story. I think you were talking about your parents or something. Because something. How, when you told, you know, when you were a kid, and you talked about the Peace Corps, and then when you went after college, and you’re like, I’m going to do the Peace Corps, and then I’m going to do these things, how did your parents react, or your family? Were they worried for you? Were they excited for you?

Hilary Wartinger 22:56

Yeah, I mean, I’m sure they were worried. They didn’t generally let it show they were pretty, they’re very always been supportive, and have known that I wanted to do like I wanted to travel, I wanted to be out and doing other things. The only time my mom has ever expressed any concern was actually when I got the position to go to Somalia. I was with her when I did my final interview and got the they basically offered me the job in that interview. And so I, like, got off zoom. I was like, oh my god, I got it. I’m going to Somalia, yeah, my mom just, she just looks at me, she’s like, I’m really happy for you. But does it have to be Somalia? Yeah,

Ben Freda 23:34

she probably watched, like, Black Hawk Down or whatever, and she’s, like, dangerous. I mean, it is, yeah. And we have a lot of preconceived notions about those places. And often, I think our preconceived notions about those places are too dramatically dangerous, but, but it is true that the UN plane has to bank to, like, avoid anti aircraft fire. So you know, there maybe is some, some, some basis for those concerns. And just

Hilary Wartinger 23:57

to clarify, there was no active firing happening while I was right, of course, just the potential. You don’t want to. You know, it’s easier to shoot a plane that’s coming in nice and predictable.

Ben Freda 24:10

So it’s just potential anti-aircraft fire. Okay, all right, fine. Well, then I don’t know what we’re concerned about, then that’s funny. So okay, so you do, right? So that was during grad school, yeah, like a grad school program. All right, so you’ve done that, you’ve done these things, and you’ve decided, alright, I want to move back to New York, or, you know, and eventually move out to LA, which where you’re at. Now, can you talk a little bit about the transition to working for Save the Children? What you started to do there, what you do now, what your job is, what knowledge management means, all of that stuff.

Hilary Wartinger 24:41

So I got that I started looking at. So I left my last job in 2022, and I had been really enjoying it, but knew I needed something different. And you know it was, I’d been traveling the pandemic. I’ve been traveling a ton. I was going to Nigeria every two months, basically, and it was a lot, and it was exhausting, and I knew I wanted to continue working in this field, but have a job that would be less travel, be a little bit more consistent, the more stable, little less hectic. And I found this role of Save the Children that was advertised as supporting the healthy newborn network leading in strategic planning and development as it goes moving into a new stage. And I love strategy, where I love doing kind of like creative thinking about big picture issues, like the challenge of solving problems, as I mentioned. And so I really thought this could be a fun space. And as my is, my now supervisor explained to me, when she was hiring me, she’s like, we were really looking for a unicorn, because we wanted somebody who could think strategically about this sort of thing, who understood websites. Maybe, had it run them, or had, you know, at least, created one on Squarespace, or, you know, knew what they knew something about websites and how they operate, but who also had the public health background, who could talk, who could write, technically, think, technically, understand the content that was going up on the site. And I got really lucky in that I actually checked almost all those boxes for just about and the ones I didn’t check, I was willing to learn more and grow. And so I was thrilled to start this role, and I loved it ever since. And what I kind of, you know, it started off as early thinking about strategy and all that, but where it’s really shifted for me, and where I really found the most excitement is thinking about the knowledge management side of it, and specifically thinking about it from a what’s the right word I’m thinking of, but thinking about it as like an equity issue. So, yeah, and so knowledge management, you know, essentially, is, how do you from an organizational standpoint, from a company standpoint, how do you manage and store and share the information that you generate and the data that includes the data, the reports, the learnings from things that worked and didn’t work. And how do you a store that internally? So how do you make that available to your staff, to your partners, to anyone who you know works for for your organization? But also, how do you share that with the world? And how do you make that accessible to the world in whatever way you want it to? So HNN or healthy newborn network is is as an offshoot of Save the Children is kind of interesting, because we don’t focus on just save the children’s information. We focus on information from and knowledge from all like the public health world globally, where we’re unbiased, not partisan in that regard. And so what I love about that is it really kind of challenges this idea that knowledge should be owned, that there should be knowledge should be available to everybody, should be open source, should be accessible, and historically, public health and kind of global development, and all of this has really been built upon this kind of top down, global north to global south, first world, third world colonies, or colonial power to colonies’ structure. And I think that I don’t like that. You know, I want to push that out. I want to get rid of that as much as we can, and really try to bring up the local knowledge, the, you know, the cultural knowledge, the indigenous knowledge, like all of this information that we as a as a culture and as a world have have grown and developed over time. I want to make that more equitable and more evenly shared, and to recognize that all knowledge is past power and all knowledge is worth having

Ben Freda 29:03

and worth sharing. So this is a great point, and I wonder if we can make it specific to healthy newborn network. So so people that don’t know Healthy Newborn Network is a program of Save the Children. There’s a website, and it has tons of resources about newborn health and maternity health, right? So everything from scholarly articles to blog posts, I guess, but probably mostly have more heavily on the academic side. So, yeah, so, so, so what are some? Yeah, I could see how there might be some, like local knowledge, for instance, on the ground, in places, particularly developing places that might have been ignored, that you might want to add to this, to this resource, is that kind of what you’re talking

Hilary Wartinger 29:41

about? I mean, that’s certainly part of it. We’re trying to get more research articles and more blog story posts and more lessons learned and guidelines like things from that were written, published and conceived in the global south and developing countries. But also, what we’re trying to do is make sure that the knowledge that we do have that is coming from kind of the global north is coming from your western publications is accessible to people in right, around the world, right? And there’s challenges to that, obviously, language being a huge issue technical capacity, you know, a lot of these journal articles are written for experts in the field, and are really challenging to understand, even if you speak English and understand the content, you know. So there’s a lot of issues around that, and we’re certainly not doing it perfectly, but the goal is to always have things be available and accessible as much as we can.

Ben Freda 30:46

That’s great. I wonder. This is something I just saw somewhere, and I wonder what your thoughts are on this about AI, which is obviously very troubling in some ways and very interesting in other ways. But I saw it somewhere. Someone had posted a they were, they were had taken over health care management for their ailing father, and they had gotten a report back from the doctor that said, here are there? Here are the seven issues that your father has. And it’s like he has an edema in the bilateral section of the something. And he copied it pasted into chat GBT, and was like, Can you translate this and make it readable by a 10 year old or something, and then AI just spat out the same report. But like, this person has an enlarged kidney that’s bumping up against his rib or something like that. And I’m doing this wrong, but there was some method of translating it because, you know, I whatever we you have an advanced degree. I’m sure reading a medical journal article is not easy. You know what I mean, even if, even if you are from, you know, an advanced economic, educate, educational type background, unless you have the expertise in the field, do you think there’s, like, a Is that something you guys think about it all, or is, is there there’s got to be challenges with that too, you know? Yeah,

Hilary Wartinger 31:56

it’s absolutely something we think about, and it’s something we’ve been thinking a bit about is like, how do we what you know with AI? AI is only as smart as you make it, and the information you feed into it, as we all know, and AI almost always needs checks on, and especially when you’re dealing with things, I think, like medical issues, and you’re trying to then put that, or you’re trying to put something very technical out into the world that has gone through AI as guidelines or as recommendations, you absolutely need that, like extra layer of checking,

Ben Freda 32:34

because it’s medical data you’re it’s medical advice you’re giving. Oh no, it’s not really, but, yeah, but,

Hilary Wartinger 32:39

but there’s one thing we’ve all learned, is that people about the internet is people will read what things on the internet and follow it, and they won’t fact check. They will do you know, they will do what they want with the information. Once the information, once the knowledge, kind of leaves our hands and is put onto the internet, we have lost all control over what happens with it, and so

Ben Freda 33:00

people start drinking bleach. People start drinking bleach for covid and stufg.

Hilary Wartinger 33:05

Absolutely. And so we think about that a lot. It’s like, if we’re going to be putting medical recommendations, even if they’re vague, like, even if they’re broad, medical recommendations, we need to make sure that it’s as accurate and honest and true as possible, and then there’s little room for interpretation as possible. With it too, we’re having the same issue, you know, with the site now we’re putting in language trend like aI language translation through Google into H and N in our current redesign. And something we think about a lot with that too, is we’re going to have to make sure that for every language we have up, that it’s translating properly. For the same reason, you know that, even in translating to other languages, to make sure that the content is and the essence of what we’re saying is staying the same, right? Yeah, because

Ben Freda 33:57

the computer could change it without you really ever knowing, because you don’t speak the language it’s translating into. So, yeah, for sure. Yeah, that’s an issue. So, so in the current project that we’re doing together to make a new site for Hnn, what to are we, you know, I’m not the one doing it, so I don’t, I’m not. I don’t have the but I think we’re using Google Translate IO for the G translate IO for the for the automated translations. And I think there’s an interface there where you can actually go and adjust the translations it comes up with. Is

Hilary Wartinger 34:26

that accurate? Yeah, okay, yeah. You can, which is why we chose it, or a large part of why we chose it is so that we can help. We can tell Google that, you know, when translating this word from English to French or English to Spanish, the translation needs to be this, you know, so that we can say, like, because there’s so many words, that’s one of the challenging things with like Google Translate, is the nuance to language is often lost. And even like myself, like, I’ll, you know, read something in a language on the internet and be like, wait, what does this mean? We’ve all done that. Like, we’ve all taken the sentence in English, put. And just put it back to English, and it’s a really different sentence, and it’s hilarious. It’s so funny. Yeah, exactly. It’s so funny. But again, that that gets really challenging with with, you know, even the most vague of medical advice,

Ben Freda 35:13

yeah. And you probably want to trans adjust the translations, not, like, universally, word for word for everything, like, oh, translate this into a different word for everything. You probably want to look at the translations on it, on a content item by content item basis, almost, yeah, yeah.

Hilary Wartinger 35:26

And as we’ve been writing, it’s been making it really interesting, because as we’ve been writing new content for the site, you know, we’re completely redesigning how the site looks, but also the content and or our content, like what we you know, our generated content for the study is completely new across across the board. And so in writing that we’ve been being really we’ve been really thoughtful and be we me, I’ve been really thoughtful to make sure that I’ll take the credit. Yeah,

Ben Freda 35:53

you should. You are you are in charge of this, for sure,

Hilary Wartinger 35:58

I’ve been really thoughtful to make sure that we’re using words that are easily translated and accessible, so that a it’s a little bit easier for us down the line, but also so that we’re accessible regardless of your medical degree or your your level of education, because we have amazingly talented, highly educated people coming to our site that English is not their first language, yeah, and so they’re trying to read the site, and there’s this incredibly technical jargon, and then just, it’s like, I don’t understand this, even though they probably know what it is in their own language, and are experts on it, right? More than we are? Yeah, exactly, more than I am, for sure. That’s interesting. So, yeah, so we’ve been really thoughtful about that kind of thing. And this is, you know, this is what I talk about when I talk about knowledge equity and knowledge management, is, you know, how we present knowledge and how we how accessible it is really impacts its uptake and use, and who has access to it, and who can, you know, use it as it’s intended to be used.

Ben Freda 37:09

That’s really interesting. So maybe can you give us a quick sort of overview of the different audiences you’re thinking about when you’re thinking about doing this for Hnn, particularly, who are you trying to make it most accessible for? What do these people look like? Yeah,

Hilary Wartinger 37:23

that’s a great question. Um, we’ve spent a lot of time over this process thinking about our audiences. Because Had you asked us two years ago, who’s the agent and audience, we would say global health practitioners, okay,

Ben Freda 37:36

And that means like doctors, nurses on the ground, doing newborn health where they are?

Hilary Wartinger 37:41

I guess? We didn’t define it. We just said global health practitioners, and there was no real understanding of like, okay, well, what does that mean? Are we talking about a midwife who works in Malawi, who runs, you know, works out of her small community health post, who is looking up things on her smartphone. Or are we talking about the Save the Children country office employee who is managing 10 different help, like 10 different clinics, and has a technical degree, but is, you know, operating out of DC. You know, who are we talking about? Those are both global health practitioners, right? But they’re vastly different.

Ben Freda 38:29

Or the researcher at, you know, Princeton or wherever, who’s doing research on maternity health,

Hilary Wartinger 38:34

Exactly, whatever, I mean. Or the researcher in Somaliland. You know, all of that. So we really had to do a deep dive. And so where we’ve kind of landed with it is we are, for the most part, aiming for kind of that mid-level practitioner, so not your nurse on the in the field, but like at the small health post, but their boss, and then maybe the person you know, and then from there up to, you know, kind of like the the researcher at Princeton. We’re trying to cover that area. But that being said, it’s also the internet. People find us, and we need to be, we need to have content for that nurse at the health post, because she might, she might Google us. She might find it.

Ben Freda 39:22

Yeah, she’s gonna the resource of the library is there. She’s gonna find she has access to everything that’s there. That’s really interesting, yeah, so identifying that audience has been important to understand how to approach the accessibility issues. Absolutely,

Hilary Wartinger 39:33

it’s been really important. And as I said, it was challenging, because we we had to recognize that we couldn’t be everything for everyone that was in our role. And so to really make identify, like, who’s the priority? You know, who are we really trying to reach? Who are going to have the biggest impact on all of that was really important.

Ben Freda 39:54

By the way. How did you figure that out? And I know part of the answer to this, but how did you go about figuring that out? In a way that maybe would be useful to other people who are looking at the beginning of a project they’re doing, or whatever, thinking, Yeah, we only have a vague idea of our audience. What steps did you take to figure that out?

Hilary Wartinger 40:10

One of the biggest things we did was we looked at our Google Analytics honestly, and we looked at our we looked at where people were coming from when they looked at the site. And what we learned is that over 75% of our daily audience is coming from the Global South, is not coming from Europe or or the US, wow, or Canada,

Ben Freda 40:31

yeah, sure. Which is so that was huge. That’s a big surprise for a US based nonprofit, yeah,

Hilary Wartinger 40:38

it was massive. That was massive for us, and we kind of knew it, but it was once you had the data to actually say, oh, like, this is real. And we’ve been that way, you know, we looked at the historical data, it’s been that way for a really long time. And part of that is like, you know, there’s a lot of history behind why that is. There was big push, but it’s still consistent to this day, which is really thrilling. You know, our biggest audiences are in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Colombia, where they’re not the US

Ben Freda 41:10

and that also. So there you go, right like you know that, so that that automatically speaks to translation capability. So what languages need to support, right off the bat, even without knowing sort of what the capabilities of the individuals are in those places, they probably speak

Hilary Wartinger 41:25

that language. The other thing that was really telling for us, and really impacts how we designed a new site, was over 50% of our audience is coming from their phones. Yeah. And now another thing we always talk about, things have to be mobile first. But that was even more important for us and as a Knowledge Library, as a resource library, we deal with PDFs. We have 1000s of PDFs that you know on your computer, very easy to open and download and hold on to, but how do you do that on a phone? It’s like next to impossible. PDFs

Ben Freda 41:59

don’t go together well.

Hilary Wartinger 42:00

They’re not friends at all, and we still haven’t figured that out. So if anyone does figure that out, please let us know.

Ben Freda 42:07

Yeah, not Yeah, it’s a tough one, tough one.

Hilary Wartinger 42:11

It’s a huge stuff. It’s really challenging. But we still wanted to make sure that if people, you know, when we have 50% of our audience coming from our phone, like the website, needs to be a little bit better about that. I

Ben Freda 42:21

think, I’m sure we talked about this, but, but that’s actually kind of rare in the nonprofit world, at least in us, the people always say you got to design mobile first. You got to do mobile first. It was kind of a buzzword, but I would say the vast majority of the nonprofits we work with, people are accessing their websites on desktop. They’re at work, usually on a laptop. And it’s really, oftentimes, organizations like yours, where it’s direct services, it’s information to the people doing something on the ground, where they’re looking at it on the phone, because they need to know it right then. So yeah, but yeah, go ahead.

Hilary Wartinger 42:53

I mean, it’s that, but it’s also just, it’s technical capacity. I mean, I mean not capacity and, like, actual ability. But very few people in Africa and Europe or in Asia and South America have desktops. Yeah. Everyone like that. Their access to the internet, to work, to everything is done off of your phone.

Ben Freda 43:16

It’s surprising to people too, because we have this image of someone sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee at a WeWork or wherever, you know, like getting unlimited coffee and sitting there, and they open up the laptop, you know, and they start talking. It’s not necessarily how it’s done everywhere. Interesting. We have only a couple more a minute or two. But I want to also just ask you quickly about advisory boards, because I know you have advisors at using on this new website redesign. And I thought it was interesting, and I think will be helpful to other people to know, you know, how you recruit people to look at your designs, at your ideas, at your audience understandings, and how you’ve kind of kept them on task and got them to give you usable information. Can you talk about that a bit?

Hilary Wartinger 43:58

Yeah, I can speak to it. So we brought the advisory group together. It’s a group of thematic experts in public health, all from Save the Children. And it was twofold. It was a to be the kind of sounding board for design decisions for the site as a website, but it was also for the content aspect. One of the things we’re doing in the redesign is we’re expanding from just newborns and mothers to also all of the other people involved in the newborn and mother’s life to the other health issues that affect them. So we’re adding new resources on nutrition, on and reproductive health and rights, climate change, humanitarian conflict, all of these various other things, child health, etc. And so we really needed to bring these folks in from the technical perspective, but also, now that we have them, let’s see what they think of the website. And so, it’s been a challenge to keep them to task and on board. Forward. They’re incredibly busy people most of the time, we’ve certainly struggled with that. But I do think overall, what’s been really, what has really worked is, is keeping the mission at the forefront, like keeping this idea of like, we’re trying to bring information and knowledge to as many people as we can through this platform. And how do you, if you were looking for something, what would you look for? We always try to ground it to them, of like, what do you need out of this? What would be beneficial for you? What’s beneficial for your colleagues? And while there’s certainly been recommendations they’ve given that I’m not taking overall, it’s been really helpful and has really shaped in some ways, like where the site is now to have these varying opinions. I’m really excited that, you know, the site’s almost ready. We’re going to be able to show it to them in a few weeks, and I’m really thrilled to see what they think, because I think that’ll be like a really good. So far, they’ve just seen mock ups and basic kind of content stuff. And so I’m really excited for them to really interact with the website and see where, see what they think.

Ben Freda 46:13

That’s gonna to be cool, that’s gonna be cool. And by the way, for anyone listening, if you’re looking at the site, after about what may are we saying, late May? May 20, okay, great. If you’re looking at the site after May 20, if you’re looking at the new site, if you’re looking before, then you’re looking at the old look anyway,

Hilary Wartinger 46:30

Which is still pretty good.

Ben Freda 46:32

It’s still pretty good. No, it’s not bad. It’s not bad at all. Yeah, you just, you just had learned so much since it went up that it was time to sort of rejigger things and execute on those new things that you knew. So that makes tons of sense. And we, of course, are over our time, but that makes total sense. I had 100 other things to ask you, but hey, can I suppose the last thing is just, if people want to learn more about you, Healthy Newborn Network, etc, where do they go to find out more?

Hilary Wartinger 46:57

So the healthy newborn network is, healthynewbornnetwork.org, so that’s where you can find our site. More information on me. You can find me on LinkedIn. Feel free on there. Hillary Wartinger, I should be the only one, and I, yeah, reach out. Please feel free. Can also put my email if we want. Hwardinger@savechildren.org. Just save children. Not the there’s no the in there. I’m happy to chat about this. It’s always fun to talk about knowledge and equity and who has power.

Ben Freda 47:37

Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been really, really great. Thank you so much.

Hilary Wartinger 47:41

Thank you so much. Ben, this was great.

Outro 47:45

Thanks for listening to the Nonprofit Thrive podcast. We’ll see you next time, and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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