Meet Our New Director of Communications & Member Relations

Niagara Foundation welcomes Mignon Senuta as our newest team member in Chicago!

Interview by: Mevlut Hilmi Cinar, VP of Development and Strategy

Hilmi: Mignon, explain to our community how you found yourself in Chicago, and subsequently, as a member of the Niagara Foundation staff?

Mignon: Well I’m originally from Maryland…but I’ve called Chicago home for the past 8 years. I first moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University, where I studied Political Science, International Studies, and Spanish. I left Chicago to join the Peace Corps in 2012, serving for 26 months in Botswana, an interesting and sparsely populated country in southern Africa. I returned to Chicago in August of this year in search of my next role.

Hilmi: Botswana sounds like an interesting place to live and work! Tell us a little bit about your experience there.

Mignon: My primary role was to serve as a consultant, or capacity builder, for local, community-based organizations. I worked in tandem with directors and coordinators of these NGOs to implement individual and community-level interventions. My larger intention was to strengthen systems, improve financial sustainability, and enhance organizational development, in order to mitigate the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I had a lot of secondary projects, as well. Most notably, I planned and implemented several youth camps and workshops focusing on gender equality, health education, and life skills. These were my most meaningful projects. I also served on the Volunteer Advisory Committee, as a liaison between Peace Corps staff and volunteers, an advocate for policy changes, and a technical and emotional support for other volunteers.

Hilmi: Did you know what you were getting into beforehand?

Mignon: Not necessarily. I wasn’t even sure what part of the world I would be heading to until a few months before; I had a few cancellations before Botswana. I knew the experience would be rewarding and foster growth, regardless. Flexibility is key when applying for the Peace Corps… [Laughs]

Hilmi: What encouraged you to apply for the position with Niagara? Why did you think you would be a good fit?

Mignon: Niagara’s mission – fostering global fellowship and intercultural dialogue – is extremely worthwhile. I’ve always been passionate about these exchanges, but my interest was solidified during my Peace Corps service. Two-thirds of Peace Corps’ goals are related to cultural exchange. The importance of creating a better understanding of Botswana on the part of Americans, as well as creating a better understanding of Americans on the part of Batswana, cannot be understated. If I didn’t focus on these goals, on establishing trust and building relationships, my projects would have failed. It is a nonnegotiable first step and suggests why there is a two year minimum for Peace Corps service…it takes time and perseverance to do this!

My interest in contributing to development, event planning, and fundraising efforts, as well as having a hand in the management of programs – such as Niagara’s Blue Dot membership program – suggested I would enjoy and thrive in the role. I love how Niagara is able to bring such a diverse group of people…of leaders…together. I’m excited to participate.

Hilmi: On behalf of the whole Niagara family, welcome aboard! We’re thrilled to have you join us.

Mignon: Thank you! I’m equally excited to be here and look forward to contributing to Niagara’s mission and development with grit and integrity.

The views and opinions expressed on The Falls are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Niagara Foundation, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.