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News — 08 July, 2024

Staff Spotlight Series: Carter Draper

Each quarter, we feature one of our all-star staff members in a Staff Spotlight Series. Staff featured in this Series have been peer-nominated for their superb performance and values-driven work. This quarter, we spotlight Carter Draper, our Programs Senior Manager at the West and Northern Africa Open Mapping Hub.

What first attracted you to work at HOT?

In 2017, I had the privilege of being offered a leadership position within a dedicated tech team, where I had the opportunity to collaborate with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) for the first time. Together, we harnessed the transformative power of technology to drive meaningful social change. HOT’s ambitious vision to map all human settlements and integrate them into a global platform through localization deeply resonated with me. It symbolized a commitment to inclusion, active participation, and addressing development challenges supporting sustainable development goals.

The idea of joining the HOT team sparked my excitement because of the potential to work on a broader platform and collaborate with diverse teams. This presented an empowering opportunity to leverage technology to make a tangible impact in serving humanity. HOT’s core values aligned with my deeply held beliefs, and I was enthusiastic about contributing to their mission. I firmly believe that promoting participation, ensuring inclusion, and developing solutions that bridge global and local contexts are essential for advancing the well-being of all communities.

Tell us a bit about how your career/personal journey led you to HOT.

I hold a degree in Electronics Engineering and have extensive knowledge in leadership, management, and technology. I have participated in the US Department of State International Visitors Leadership Program and obtained Microsoft Certified Technology Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Technology Specialist (MCTS) certificates from India, as well as Mobile Technology for International Development from the United States. I have been involved in various global conferences, open government initiatives, and management leadership for sustainable technology development across Africa, Europe, and the Americas. My contributions to improving livelihoods through technology have been recognized with awards at both national and global levels.

As the Country Director at iLab Liberia, I managed a tech hub and utilized technology to drive positive social change and support local community initiatives through tech-based solutions. I supervised projects for esteemed organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, USAID, Open Government Partnership, US Embassy, and other partners. These projects encompassed a wide array of important topics, including youth empowerment, gender, peace-building, elections, health, education, media, entrepreneurship, entertainment, technology, climate change, disaster response, and other critical socio-economic issues.

While at iLab, I established a productive partnership with HOT for a World Bank project, leading to numerous subsequent collaborative projects, even after I moved on to HOT to contribute my expertise at a global level.

What is your current role at HOT, and how has it evolved?

In June 2021, I started working as a Global Projects Manager at HOT. In this role, I oversaw donor projects in Vietnam, Tanzania, Indonesia, and Zambia with the help of the global programs team. During this time, we were working on HOT’s decentralization policy and plan. After nearly a year in this role, I was assigned to the West and Northern Africa Hub (WNAH) in line with the realignment of global programs team members to their closest regions. After a few months as a Regional Project Manager, I was promoted to Senior Manager in Programs. In this new role, I have worked with support from the Hub’s Director and the Strategy and Implementation teams to manage the portfolio for twenty-four countries in the region. Since then, I have supervised the implementation of over ten projects, disaster activations, and local community microgrant activities in the region.


What fulfills you most about your role?

Growing up in a small town in Liberia during the 14-year civil crisis, I witnessed firsthand the immense struggles faced by local communities. These often-overlooked areas silently bore their own unique challenges. This experience has fueled my commitment to using technology for the betterment of humanity. As a Senior Manager in Programs at the WNAH, I am focused on ensuring that HOT’s open and participatory mapping workflows, open tech, and expert capacity building reach all twenty-four countries we serve and beyond. My aim is to bring attention to local communities that are frequently marginalized in decision-making and national development processes due to their lack of visibility. I am dedicated to addressing this issue and ensuring that every local community can effectively utilize our programs to map their own settlements and garner the assistance they require. By mapping out these communities and highlighting their specific needs, we can strive to ensure that their struggles are acknowledged by humanitarian organizations, as well as national and international development partners.

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Although the book primarily focuses on financial stability, I see it as an opportunity to explore mindset shifts that extend beyond finances. It’s a great read for personal development and improvements in different aspects of life.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

I feel incredibly fortunate to have a truly wonderful family! My beloved wife Zoe and our incredible children Ian, Titus, and Zara bring immense happiness and fulfillment to my life. I deeply cherish every single moment we share, particularly during my leisure time. Whether we engage in entertaining games, share heartfelt laughter, or simply enjoy each other’s company, these moments hold an incredibly special place in my heart.

Learn more about Carter here.

Photos courtesy of Carter Draper