Empowerment in Conversation, Part One

Two friends to explore how women can better support one another.

For every ambitious female, there is an unspoken truth behind her path, empowerment, career and successes. What the outside world gets to see from the surface, is just part of the joy, sweat and tears.

The art of female empowerment involves navigating friendships, supporting one another and building dream team collaborations.

Enter Jemi Laclé and Claudia Koerbler. Laclé is a project manager and partnership lead in Energy Sector Open Data and Analytics at the World Bank. Koerbler is a global storyteller and knowledge management specialist with the World Bank.

Both women are global connectors and international development specialists. Here, readers learn how each of these women focused on empowerment and navigated their unique career path.

Laclé (left) and Koerbler (right) pictured at the Kennedy Center

Laclé: You live in Washington, D.C. What brought you to here?

Koerbler: I grew up in a small village in the South Eastern part of Austria, bordering Hungary and Slovenia. Growing up in a small town always made me curious to experience what is out there in the world. At the age of 18, I left Austria and moved to San Francisco to study [languages]. I ultimately lived in many different countries over the last 15 years.

I ended up working in D.C. for the Ministry of Finance at the Embassy of Austria. Ultimately, my path in D.C. evolved and after my tenure in diplomacy, my career manifested in international development for the World Bank Group and the United Nations.

My passion has always involved international development, languages and how we can use policy development to implement global solutions. This is also what brought me to Kenya to shoot a documentary called Nashukuru: Storytelling in the faces of poverty. Storytelling to me personally has become the most essential and influential way to expose our shared humanity.

Culturs: What about you, Jemi?

Laclé: I was born and raised on the small island of Aruba, which is in the Caribbean near Venezuela but is nevertheless part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. I am Dutch and a European citizen.

Aruba is a multicultural, multiracial and multilingual country. Even our native tongue, Papiamento, sounds like a worldly mix-and-match, resonating and portraying the diversity on the island.

My parents have always traveled, and we visited South America, the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. These experiences exposed me to new cultures, traditions, tastes of cuisines, as well as extraordinary people from all walks of life.

During childhood, I realized that establishing relationships and having dialogues with people worldwide brings us all closer together.


Culturs: Tell us about your friendship.

Koerbler: Our friendship is dynamic, transparent and authentic. We are different in many ways, from our cultural backgrounds, life experiences and styles. However, our differences are how we complement each other as friends. Most importantly, our life values align. We both share an optimistic outlook and are committed in driving social change forward.

Culturs: How are you able to form a female team of empowerment beyond surface-level friendship?

Laclé: Many people focus on their own ambitions, goals, dreams and personal professional advancement. However, friendship is crucial in both the personal and professional trajectory. It is the people that you surround yourself with that will be your reflecting mirror. It’s important to have an inner circle that you value, respect and that believes in you.

True friends are not only there during good and bad times and to push you to reach your goals or even work jointly to put make those goals become reality. We believe as friends, we have different approaches and different dreams. One way we as friends can support one another is to not judge and wholeheartedly become your “Board of Director” for our friend in help them realizing their ultimate dreams.

We are a “dream team” because we support each other in our dreams with a critical eye and always bear in mind the best interest of the other.

Look for part two of this conversation between friends in the Autumn 2019 issue of Culturs.

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