Marcia Kalvon Woods: Understanding and Working with Complex Challenges

Marcia Kalvon Woods: Understanding and Working with Complex Challenges

What I gained was the confidence and courage to lead when the road ahead is unclear.”

Marcia Kalvon Woods is an advisor for the José Luiz Egydio Setúbal foundation, with a mission to improve the health and quality of life for children and teenagers across Brazil. She’s also an alumni of THNK’s program for Leaders in Philanthropy, and she spoke with THNK Director of Non-Profit Programs Michele Ernsting about her work attempting to make complex societal problems more manageable.




Cultivating trust in order to navigate complex challenges

“My priorities are to really understand the complex challenges we are trying to tackle, by listening to hundreds of stakeholders, from communities to policymakers, to ensure our response is relevant. Meanwhile, inside our organisation, I’m helping the doctors and trustees who are new to philanthropy fully understand and appreciate our impact.” 

“To work with complex challenges in health care, you need to build relationships and really listen to each other. You need to express the same values internally as you do to your partners. By bringing in your own vulnerability, you create trust and a space for others to voice their fears. This dialogue process can seem chaotic, but if you can do this well, the results will be beautiful. You are bringing everyone’s voice together in this diverse country to solve things together.”

Learning to stand in the Spotlight

“As part of THNK, I also learned new ways of leading. In the past, I felt uncomfortable being in the spotlight. Then I realised that sometimes you must speak up to serve the cause. It’s not about vanity or ego. It’s about stepping in to serve. This reframing brought me a lot of peace and confidence.”

“Everyone in society can help make things better; make people healthier and happier. No matter if it’s small or big, we all have some responsibility. Your wealth makes you more accountable for how society is. It’s about social justice. It’s my purpose. It’s what drives me to do the work I do.”

THNK and Philanthropy

Marcia attributes much of her success to the skills she learned during her time with THNK’s Leading Philanthropy program. You can learn more about our programs for leaders of non-profits and philanthropies at our informational webpage.

If you’re more interested in our other leadership training, we have open enrolment programs for three career levels.