Melinda Davis, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a BA in psychology and peace studies, arrived in Rome at the end of February as the first participant to the Pope Francis Integral Human Development Program. Through this initiative, highly qualified professionals spend a period of time in Rome working in support of the Holy See policy-making efforts. The program is the fruit of the collaboration between the Holy See Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Catholic Peacebuilding Network and the Rome Global Gateway, and is generously funded by a grant from FADICA.
Davis' road took her to Rome as the junior coordinator for the Security Task Force of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission. The Vatican COVID-19 Commission was created, in collaboration with other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and other organizations, to express the Church’s solicitude and care for the whole human family facing the COVID-19 pandemic, including analysis, reflection on the new socio-economic-cultural future, and the proposal of relevant approaches. When the pandemic started, Melinda was working as a temporary office assistant at the Kroc Institute under the mentorship of Jerry Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies, who was serving in the Security Task Force. As the need for another junior coordinator for the Security Task Force arose, the Pope Francis Integral Human Development Program hired her to work directly with the commission.
Davis will stay in Rome at least one year with the possibility of another year renewal.
As the junior coordinator for the Security Task Force, Davis supports the coordinator and they manage a "network of networks," so to speak, of partners both inside and outside the Vatican. Davis works on food security, health security, nuclear disarmament, peace-building, emerging technologies, and many more.
“Being part of this program is an incredible opportunity to build and maintain relationships, both internal and external, and also be mentored by senior professionals in the Vatican and elsewhere in the Commission,” says Davis. “I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn and serve the Church's mission.”