By bringing on board the thoughts, expertise and experience of a small cohort of truly committed people, the future is looking brighter than ever for the SockStar Project. As January came to an end, the newly formed Strategy Panel had their debut meeting. Khursheed Khurody, Crispin Lyden-Cowan, Rob Waller, Philippe Van Den Abeele and Dan Newton came together (virtually, of course!) along with founder, Lew Bedford, to kick off six months of collaboration and exciting conversations.
Often, understanding the inner workings of a project like Sockstar can feel a little perplexing so we want to take a moment to explain the purpose of the panel and share some hopes as we move ahead.
Creating a space for open and detailed conversations about the work of the Sockstar in supporting teams of wildlife rangers is the starting point. The beauty of this is that the outcome of discussions is not preordained - it’s all about problem-solving and organically building ideas to grow the project in the future. Strengthening SockStar’s existing foundations and operations will be key. This means producing a strategy of long-term sustainability to support groups such as the Ulinzi Foundation’s wildlife ranger unit in Kenya and the Game Rangers International Anti-Poaching Units. Keeping this basic priority in mind, the panel will start to think about how best to bolster the organisational side of the project. This will include questions such as how best to attract increased investment and support from donors. From the meetings which will take place, the plan is to distil a collection of focussed goals - a holistically formed plan for SockStar’s future!
Each individual who has joined the group is an existing Sockstar supporter, passionate about planetary protection and willing to dig into the granular details of translating ideas into action. With an expansive range of backgrounds, current careers and banks of knowledge, the panel is well-equipped to take a multidimensional approach to strategy formation. We are also delighted to be planning periodic consultations with in-country leads, including Raabia Hawa, who can offer invaluable feedback in the form of updates, contexts and challenges. This creates opportunities to fine-tune the supplies and resources we provide and to maximise the impact of every penny donated, and importantly, to listen rather than tell the ranger groups what they need.
There is a real sense of energy and optimism surrounding the foundation of the panel and the initial discussions it has been having. Khursheed Khurody, SockStar panellist and strategic advisor to multiple global non-governmental organisations, took a moment to consider why she decided to get involved. Khursheed responded as follows: “I opted to join the SockStar Strategy Panel because I need to engage with those who protect precious wildlife. The Sockstar team has robust values. For me, therefore, they provide an excellent platform from which we can best leverage higher points of excellence.” This concept of engagement is so powerful and the panel will provide further opportunities to consult with rangers on the ground and respond as effectively as possible to their unique needs in varied circumstances.
One of the most exciting aspects of the newly formed strategy panel is the ideas which will crystallize, in perhaps unexpected ways, as discussions are born from multiple perspectives and visions. The panel will provide fertile grounds in which the potential of the Project can truly take root as well as opening up prospects for development and evolution.