In her own words: HopSkipDrive Safety Advisory Board member Dr. Nana B. Afoh-Manin
Written by Aylin Cook
One of our newest HopSkipDrive Safety Advisory Board members, Dr. Nana B. Afoh-Manin, will be the guiding force behind COVID-Safety and community wellbeing initiatives.
Dr. Nana Afoh-Manin. is a community-centered emergency doctor, social entrepreneur and humanitarian disaster relief consultant with an extensive track record of being a champion for equity in higher education. Inspired by the charitable works of her late Ghanaian mother, Nana embarked on her own path of service completing medical school and residency in Emergency Medicine. Dr. Nana continued her training honing in on social determinants of health disparities and forced migration.
She has trained clinicians, field officers and participated in disaster/humanitarian teams across the US, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. She was a clinician for the U.S. National Disaster Management Team and served in Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and the Ebola Crisis Center base as part of the CDC.
Pivoting in her career, Dr. Afoh-Manin founded the Shared Harvest Fund, an innovative, community-centric fintech platform which helps get people out from under massive student debt.
Work during COVID-19
At the advent of the COVID-19 health crisis, Dr. Afoh-Manin founded the myCOVIDMD initiative to create community-based COVID-19 testing pop-ups for the under-resourced in Los Angeles and other metropolitan cities.
In her own words
Here, Dr. Nana Afoh-Manin shares how her childhood experience led to her unique career in medicine, public health and entrepreneurship.
My first coveted job was as water fetcher at the age of 4, carrying buckets of water to my great grandmother to cook with. I had to learn to be careful and efficient or the task would take all day. Out of necessity, I learned to carry water jugs on my head. Fast forward to sinks, yet still the daughter of an immigrant mom, running a lean side hustle, was part of the territory.
Whether it was braiding hair, or selling donuts, my grit and creativity has always been my lucky charm. I am a first-generation college graduate but come from a legacy of entrepreneurs. I’ve gone from being the assistant to the savviest Ghanaian market women to an Emergency Doctor and Global Public Health practitioner to now founding my own people operations technology platform for social justice that is disrupting how we finance higher education. We exist to show that talents and lived experiences are valuable currencies in today’s global market.
My humble upbringing nurtured the cognitive empathy to understand the plight of others while being solution driven to help them actualize their own self-worth. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I’m serious about social change.
My mother died at my wedding when I was 22 years old and literally passed me the baton. No time for tears, just razor focused on continuing her legacy. Grit and optimism are my superpowers. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in karma: the opportunities that come when you least expect it is likely due to seeds that were planted for you, by you, or despite you, for better or worse.
I was a “latch-key” child growing up, which meant I was often left home alone while my mother worked her graveyard shifts. I took this as her unwavering trust in me to take care of business even when others aren’t watching.
I learned early on how to manage on my own, use my better judgement and not let my fears take over. As a doctor, I’m the unlikely brand to swerve to the unpredictable world of becoming a social entrepreneur.
I truly believe that we humans are at our best when we do for others. Rather than being comfortable, It was more important to me to create a platform that helps to eliminate the barriers that get in the way of people living out their best lives.