Leading change, paving the way for many

Johanna Leblanc is a Foreign Affairs and National Security Professional who wants her legacy to be such that  influenced policies that promote the interests of all nations and people but also empowered women and girls all over the world to live a limitless life and to focus on their education.

Q : Can you introduce yourself and your work ?

A : My name is Johanna Leblanc.  I am a Foreign Affairs and National Security Professional.  I monitor legal proceedings of detainees who have been accused of war crimes in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to ensure that the rule of law is applied appropriately. In addition, I serve as an adjunct Professor and sit on the Commission on African Affairs as a Commissioner.

Q :     Tell us a bit about your childhood, your ambitions and who inspired you to be who you are now?

A : I had the unfortunate privilege of being born into a dysfunctional family that did not have the capacity to raise nor protect me. At a very young age, I was mentally, physically, and sexually abused by my mothers’ husband and found myself without a home.

Although, I am building my career in the area of national security and living the life that I have always dreamed of, I want my legacy to be much greater than professional accomplishments. I want to be remembered as someone who cared deeply about humanity and inspired millions of people. Therefore, I am writing an autobiography to shed light on my journey and tragic childhood that is scheduled to be released soon.

By the grace of God and the help of amazing mentors who He has placed in my life, I hold a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. I also hold a Masters of Science in Public Administration from Florida A&M University, and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Bethune- Cookman University. Currently, I am pursuing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law at The George Washington University Law School

My story is a testament that anything is possible through hard work, prayer, faith, and determination.

Q :     What do you think about empowerment of women ?

A : Because historically women have been disfranchised in a patriarchy society, it is critical for us to be empowered by hearing about the struggles and successes of other successful women. Even more importantly,   it is imperative for women to have access to resources that will aid in their ability to contribute to society. In the context of Africa, public policies must reflect the needs of women for the development of nations and societies. We need more women to serve in various roles to ensure that our voices are properly heard.

Q :     What are some of the challenges you have faced in the typically male-dominated profession of politics?

In certain parts of the world, some people have questioned my educational and professional achievements due to my gender, race, and age. My intellect and ability to perform have also been undermined.  Therefore, I constantly have to prove myself.

Q:     What were some of the biggest obstacles to reaching where you are today?

A :Lack of financial and emotional support from my family were perhaps the two biggest challenges early on. There were times, especially when I was in high school where learning was not necessarily a priority, surviving was. In fact, from high school until graduate school, I always worked several jobs simultaneously in order to support myself.

Q :    What is your message for other women and girls who may be inspired by your journey and achievements in Africa?

A : I have lived and worked extensively in Southeast-Asia, Southern and Western Africa on access to legal justice, child marriage issues, and electoral reforms.  Therefore, I have a first-hand knowledge of the unique issues that some African women face daily. However, I urge women to live a limitless life. Move to the beat of your own drums. Do not listen to the naysayers. Do not be afraid to take the road least travelled.

As former president Barack Obama once said” Making your mark on this world is hard. It takes commitment, patience, and a whole lot of unplanned setbacks”. And he is right, on your journey to success you will be faced with various challenges but you must not waiver because there is no triumph without struggles.

Q :     What is your last word ?

Be bold and confident. Anything is possible, but you must first believe in yourself. “GO GET EM TIGER”

Editor : John H . Sime

Craig Zelizer

Craig Zelizer

Dr. Craig Zelizer is the Founder of PCDN.global, which connects a global community of changemakers to the tools, community and opportunities to build careers of impact and scale change. He has strong experience in the development sector, academia and social entrepreneurship. From 2005 to 2016 he served as a professor in the Conflict Resolution program at Georgetown University (where he still teaches). He has led trainings, workshops and consultancies in over 20 countries organizations including with USIP, USAID, CRS, Rotary International and others. Craig is a recognized leader in the social sector field. He has received several awards including George Mason’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution’s alumni of the year award and an alumni career achievement award from Central European University. Dr. Zelizer spent two years in Hungary as Fulbright Scholar and was a Boren Fellow in Bosnia. He has published widely on peacebuilding, entrepreneurship, and innovation in higher education.
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