For nearly three decades, Tostan has co-created and implemented human rights based-educational programs with communities across the African continent that inspire large-scale movements leading to dignity for all. Founder of Tostan, Molly Melching, came to Dakar, Senegal in 1974 as a graduate student and never left, putting down the deep roots required to work on community-led, transformative social change. She created Tostan and served as CEO for 27 years until 2017 when Elena Bonometti was welcomed as her successor through a collaborative model of transition where Molly moved to the new position of Founder and Creative Director. In late July 2020, we asked Elena and Molly to take some time to reflect with us on the intersecting themes of well-being and the transition process they went through. What follows is an edited version of that conversation. We began by inviting Molly to share how she has come to think about the transition in relation to her own well-being.
Molly Melching: For many years, the three-year Tostan participatory education program—called the Community Empowerment Program—has used the promotion of community well-being as a framework for our development work. We’ve focused at our organization for almost 30 years on supporting community members to collectively identify what community well-being means and looks like for them. We let them know that our goal is supporting them in achieving their vision of well-being—not trying to impose what our vision of well-being should be for them.
This is an excerpt from the article A Table for Two at Tostan: Organizational Well-being and Leadership Transition by Molly Melching and Elena Bonometti.
This article is a part of a special series on the connection between inner well-being and social change, in partnership with The Wellbeing Project, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Schwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum, and Skoll Foundation.