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Donna Harris is a Development Practitioner. She was born, raised, and educated in Guyana to tertiary level where she had her early working foundation at the Guyana National Engineering Corporation Limited (GNEC). She started out as a Management Trainee, in the Finance Department, and later became Planning and Projects Manager.
GNEC, a nationalised company under the Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham government, was formerly known as Sprontons. This company, though primarily involved in steel works, also built and maintained our local ferries, military vessels, and heavy-duty machinery.
Donna was one of Guyana’s children who were among the earlier beneficiaries of a national agenda to create a New Guyana. A Guyana, whose government invested heavily in an indigenous Education Programme to equip Guyanese in its thrust for nation building.
To this end, education became public, was made free from nursery to university; boys and girls from different socio-economic backgrounds sat in the same classrooms, shared and learned from each other, and participated in extracurricular activities.
There was also a new education curriculum specifically geared to an Indigenous Development Strategy that would exploit our natural and human resources for the benefit of the nation. Education formed part of the overarching goal of building One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
In 1982 Donna graduated from the University of Guyana with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science, Management (Distinction). She also achieved a Master’s Degree in Science at the University of Bradford in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Her educational foundation in Guyana and the experience gained at GNEC created further opportunities for employment in the Caribbean and ultimately at the World Bank, an affiliate of the United Nations.
Donna is an Alternate Executive Director at the World Bank Group, appointed in November 2018. She represents Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Prior to taking up the position at the World Bank, Donna was the Social Protection Specialist/Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank in Kingston, Jamaica.
The World Bank, which was established in 1944, officially began operations in June 1946. The Bank has more than 180 member states which are represented on the Board of Governors which meets once a year. The governors are usually the country’s finance minister or Governor of the Central Bank.
As per the Bank’s website, it works in every major area of development, providing a wide array of financial products and technical assistance. The Bank also helps countries share and apply innovative knowledge and solutions to the challenges they face. And as Donna advocates on her Twitter account, #BuildbackbetterpostCovid. #EndPoverty
Executive Directors (or Alternates) fulfill a dual function, as officials of the Bank and as representatives of the member country or countries that appointed or elected them. There is deep pride that among this distinguished group of people, helping to shape the developmental trajectory of nations around the world, sits our girl-Donna Harris.