This profile was prepared when Susan Pick was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
When Susan began her work thirty years ago, the Mexican government had finally allowed family planning programs to tackle the issue of adolescent pregnancies. Knowing that behavior change depends on more than simply education, Susan founded the Mexican Institute for Research on Family and Population (IMIFAP) to design and carry out innovative and interactive training programs geared towards improving people’s life skills in decision making, communication, self awareness and assertiveness. Through this program, she empowers peoples to improve to take renewed responsibility for their lives. After conducing surveys to understand the community’s needs and barriers to change, Susan piloted her data-driven program. She compared results to a control groups and found that many health and poverty problems could be alleviated using similar underlying principles and training techniques, but very different specifics. All of her programs are based on research and data; evaluation before, during and after training; creation of materials and training carried out in schools, communities, government and business. Through her combination of scientific research, health education, life skills training and advocacy, she has empowered people to take charge of their personal development and health. Through Susan’s insight that addressing the underlying problem of the lack of life skills could help people face the challenges and demands of everyday life, she was able to adapt her programs to other health and poverty problems, including HIV/AIDS, nutrition, diabetes, drug abuse, school performance, as well as cervical and breast cancer. Susan has specialized in the development and large-scale implementation of human development programs for underserved populations. She played a crucial role in the development and implementation of the national school based sexuality education program and then a nation-wide civic and ethics program as well as health, gender and empowerment programs adopted by the Mexican health sector. Susan’s group has now offered 40 different programs in Mexico, they have received more than 280 grants, and have improved the lives of 19 million marginalized people in 14 countries.