Colleen Davis – CSO Champion

“You can’t run from your passion. I believe I must live out my purpose and I am committed to be who my God has ordained me to be.” 

“As a child and young adult, I was intrigued by the dynamics of collaboration as I observed my parents interact with their close friends and colleagues. These included inspirational figures such as Angela and John Cropper, Hazel Brown, Asha Kambon, Sheila Solomon and many more who seemed driven to secure policy change and implement projects that would uphold human dignity.”     

Colleen Davis, former Executive Director and current Board Secretary receiving Veni Apwann’s Energy Chamber TT NGO Good Governance Award 2015

“My grandfather, Andrew ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, was a co-founder of the Postal Workers’ Trade Union in Guyana. My mother, Faith Wiltshire was one of the co-founders of the Housewives Association of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women. My father, Dr. Winthrop Wiltshire was a committed member of the Tapia House Group led by Lloyd Best. Both of my parents served at the Board level of Eastern Credit Union, my mother, as the President who presided over the development of Eastern’s La Joya complex. They provided poignant examples of diligence, perseverance, humility, courage and sacrifice in the sector. Such examples have powerfully impacted my 30+ year civil society career in Trinidad & Tobago as well as Canada.” 

“My understanding of what it means to be a leader in civil society has been informed by my personal core value of collaboration and an understanding that civil society can only be as strong as its weakest link.”  

In the budding CSO sector, Colleen Davis and her fellow collaborators realised there was a gap to fill in. There were many initiatives designed to help build the capacity of CSOs however, few were designed and operated by people with experience in CSO management. 

Veni Apwann is a collaborative effort that was conceived out of the need to assist and uplift other CSOs. 

“I feel most satisfied when I inspire individuals to see how critical their contributions to the sector are for the holistic development of our nation, our region and even the world at large.” Throughout its inception, Veni Apwann has helped build the capacity of over 500 CSOs. 

Being a pillar of strength for other CSOs is not the easiest path to take. “The path could be intense, fraught with intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics. However, I keep going, strengthened by God and driven by the potential I see in the individuals who serve civil society.”  

In providing the tools for other CSOs to grow, Davis herself has gained a lot from the endeavor. She learned about patience and how meaningful change takes time. “You bring your whole self (inclusive of your broken parts) to the work, which can impact the quality of that work. Pay as much attention to your own healing as you do to addressing societal ills.” This also extends to others as well. “Being willing to listen to and understand the perspectives of those in ‘opposing camps’ is critical for establishing sustainable partnerships which can achieve the common good.”

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