Geralyn Sheehan

Geralyn Sheehan is a consultant providing advice and training on how to effectively mobilize successful community action. Sheehan works in urban and rural settings in the United States and internationally. Her consulting is based on the belief that community improvement occurs only when ideas and solutions are born from community members’ own action. Sheehan works firsthand to identify and mobilize the unique strength of each community, always with an emphasis on economic sustainability. She believes that practical systems must be designed to assure sustainability of any community effort or initiative.  

Sheehan currently lives and works in Nicaragua assisting Opportunity International, a Christian microfinance organization, to combine asset-based community development strategies with  already successful microfinance strategies. Opportunity International (Opportunity) provides microcredit to the poor in 28 countries. Sheehan believes that traditional microfinance is necessary but not sufficient to achieve long-term, self-sufficient communities among the world’s poor that earn $4 per day or less. The blending of asset-based community development strategies and microfinance leads to long-term solutions such as good-paying jobs, improved access to education, healthy drinking water and growing new and expanded markets for micro entrepreneurs. The result of her current work in Nicaragua has been the development of new loan products, new training for community leaders and training for microfinance loan officers to create self-sustaining communities driving their own economic growth.

Sheehan has been a faculty member at the Asset-Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University since 1994. As a faculty member, she has consulted, provided training and authored books for use by community leaders both in the USA and internationally. Sheehan authored the ABCD publication “Building the Mercado Central: Asset-Based Development & Community Entrepreneurship. She also co-authored “A Guide to Capacity Inventories: Mobilizing the Community Skills of Local Residents.” These books highlight examples of community members using asset-based approaches to lead change and improvements in their community. Sheehan taught asset-based community development and organizing strategies at the Community Leadership Institute at the Center for Non-Profit Management, University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sheehan received her master's degree in public administration from Harvard University, JFK School of Government. She also has a JD degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sheehan was awarded a Fellowship in International Development through the Kellogg Foundation and Partners of the Americas in 1992 and was granted a Bush Leadership Fellowship in 1994 to further her studies in community and economic development at Harvard University.

Contact Information
Geralyn Sheehan
Opportunity International-Nicaragua
Carretera Nandaime, Km 48 ½
Granada, Nicaragua
Nicaragua office: 505-2552-7108
USA office: 612-991-9461
Skype: geralyn.sheehan

Other Organization information
Opportunity International web site: Opportunity International is a Christian microfinance institution operating in 28 countries.  Opportunity’s mission is to provide opportunities for people living in chronic poverty to transform their lives. Opportunity’s strategy is to create jobs, stimulate small businesses and strengthen communities among the poor. 

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