October 30, 2023
By Janice Biehn
When Jackie Koster was 25, working for the International Organization for Migration, she was tasked with editing a Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian dictionary of migration terms. She spoke none of the language, and to an outsider, the languages are basically the same. But her boss thought that neutrality made her a perfect choice. “It was a really critical reminder to me of what is common in language and in ways of working.”
PWRDF is pleased to announce that Koster will bring that experience to PWRDF as Director of Programs and Partnership, effective December 1, 2023. Since the dictionary job, she has carved out an impressive 16-year career in humanitarian relief with World Renew, the development and relief agency of the Christian Reformed Church.
“My focus has been disaster response and humanitarian relief,” she said in a phone interview from Geneva, Switzerland. Being overseas is typical for Koster, who has logged a lot of travel time in her life. Born in Australia, she moved with her family to Indonesia and then to Richmond, B.C., as a teenager with her two brothers and sister.
Working in disaster response for the past 15 years has given her a front seat to the effects of climate change. “El niño patterns are changing and people’s resilience is getting lower and lower. Responses used to be three to six months, now we’re often there for as long as eight years. In 2001 in Kenya, the herdspeople had 100 cattle each. Now in response to the drought, nobody has 100 cattle, it’s more like 10, if any.”
Koster also has a lot of experience in governance. “I like policies and procedures,” she says. “They’re like the rebar of an organization, helping it withstand any difficulties.”
These governance and managerial skills will be handy at PWRDF where Koster will oversee the our relief and development team, working primarily from her home in Hamilton, Ont. “I am excited to be joining a team and an organization with such a strong reputation for working in meaningful partnership with so many others. These are challenging times, and they call for a collective response.”