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Alumna helps lead effort to aid Navajo Nation during Covid-19 pandemic

Rachel Svetanoff

Promoting social impact has always been a priority for Krannert MBA alumna Rachel Svetanoff.


At Purdue, she worked as a graduate assistant with the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Management and as a leader of Student Pugwash USA, which promotes social responsibility in science through an international network of students, professionals, academics, and activists.


Today, Svetanoff (MBA ’18) serves as a consultant for Johnson & Johnson's Global Public Health department, working with the CaringCrowd team, a fundraising platform that helps 501(c) (3) nonprofits achieve their global health goals.


Among these nonprofits is JB Dondolo Inc., which Lumbie Mlambo founded in 2012 with the mission of removing barriers that underserved and impoverished communities face to accessing basic needs.


“I read their story about installing a water filtration system at a health clinic in rural Zimbabwe and wanted to interview the team about their work to illustrate the impact we're making at CaringCrowd,” Svetanoff says. “The founder and I made a connection, and I was so compelled by her story that after the interview I asked to join the organization.


“Hitting the ground running, I joined the board of directors and have contributed to growing their partnerships portfolio, programs, and recognition, including making it past the first round of the Global Water Partnership Changemaker Awards process.”


She’s also helping lead JB Dondolo’s recently launched “Music for Water” competition, an annual fundraising campaign open to amateur and professional musicians that will benefit the Navajo Nation and other underrepresented communities that need access to clean water to protect themselves from COVID-19.


JB Dondolo also has partnered with Disinfect & Shield, a disinfecting company that will provide hand sanitizers and disinfecting products to the Navajo communities.


According to NEJM Catalyst, the Navajo Nation has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The infection rate of over 3,500 per 100,000 residents surpassed New York City by mid-May, resulting in more than 6,500 cases and 322 deaths. The death toll also is disproportionate. In New Mexico, for example, Native Americans represent 53% of COVID-related deaths in the state although they represent only 11% of the population.


“The Navajo Nation experiences some of the highest rates of water poverty in the United States,” Svetanoff says. “Not having indoor plumbing, clean water or sanitation in their homes makes it impossible for them to follow hand-washing guidelines to slow transmission of the virus. When people haul water to their homes, whether from stores and/or watering sites, they are still exposing themselves to others.”


In the “Music for Water” competition, musicians will produce high-quality recordings of songs and compete for the top five spots to receive a distribution deal with their record label partner Grand Mountain International Records. One song will be chosen to be the song of the year, announced at JB Dondolo’s fifth Equanimity Awards honoring Krannert alumnus Roland Parrish.


“By participating in the Music for Water competition, original water-themed songs will help amplify our message that water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right and that all communities deserve a voice for water,” Svetanoff says.


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