In September 2012, I had the opportunity to apply for the position of Grant & Subcontract Officer for the SIKA-West project, an influential initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development and administered by AECOM. Following a successful interview, I was delighted to accept the position on October 02, 2012, marking the beginning of my journey with the project.
Several months later, I had the privilege of meeting Kara Dixon, who joined the program as the Grant & Compliance Manager. Kara’s profound impact on my professional growth became evident as she not only demonstrated expertise in her role but also exhibited qualities of kindness, dedication, and support. Her openness to share knowledge and her unwavering enthusiasm for the program’s success were truly inspiring. Kara’s mentorship led me to embrace programmatic excellence, emphasizing adherence to USAID regulations and fostering virtues of kindness and empathy within my professional approach.
In my role as the Grant & Subcontract Officer, I assumed responsibility for overseeing and managing the comprehensive output of the logical framework in Herat. With a steadfast commitment, I ensured the effective execution of over USD $5,000,000 in grant funding across the program’s target districts. Handling 180 grants and training awards, I consistently upheld the highest standards of quality and compliance.
Over the course of three years working closely with Kara, she made the difficult decision to return to the United States. Her departure marked a significant loss, as she had been an indispensable manager providing unwavering support to me and my colleagues.
While her absence from the program was felt deeply, the profound influence of Kara’s mentorship remains, reminding me of the transformative power of a compassionate leader. Her unwavering support and encouragement have left an indelible mark on my life, instilling in me the values of dedication, inclusivity, and genuine care for others.
Fast forward to June 2021, when Afghanistan faced a dramatic shift in its security situation, I found myself compelled to seek refuge in the United States. During these challenging times, I reached out to Kara, requesting her assistance in securing a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) through a recommendation letter. To my immense relief and joy, Kara responded promptly, expressing her understanding of the risks involved, having experienced the situation herself during her time in Afghanistan. Her commitment to my well-being was evident as she assured me that she had already initiated the recommendation letter, providing a much-needed sense of hope and comfort during the uncertainty.
Kara’s unwavering support did not waver even after Afghanistan’s fall. Her glowing recommendation letter opened doors for me to embark on a new chapter in the United States. Beyond the professional realm, Kara’s mentorship and support have played an invaluable role in my personal growth. I am filled with deep gratitude and determination to pay forward the compassion and guidance she extended to me.
When reunited in Washington DC in March 2023, Kara’s gracious invitation to lunch offered an opportunity to reconnect, reigniting memories of her influential mentorship. As our conversation unfolded, I was reminded of her lasting impact on my life and career. Kara’s dedication to humanitarian causes, commitment to excellence, and her passion for making a positive impact on the community continue to serve as a beacon of inspiration for me.
With Kara’s lessons imprinted in my journey, I am committed to carrying forward her legacy of kindness, empathy, and dedication to excellence. As I embark on this new chapter in the United States, I strive to create positive change and contribute to the greater good, just as Kara has done for me.
As I embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, I do so with gratitude for the impact Kara Dixon has had on my life’s trajectory. Her mentorship has been an invaluable gift, and I will forever cherish the memories and lessons learned under her guidance. With a renewed sense of purpose, I am eager to make a positive impact in the world, fueled by the support and inspiration she has provided me along my journey.