Meet Our Trainers: Milka Dinev
Meet Our Trainers: Milka Dinev
This is an installment in the “Meet Our Trainers” series, where we get to know InsideNGO’s trainers beyond the classroom. In this blog post, we highlight Milka Dinev, an accomplished and multilingual trainer for InsideNGO.
Milka will be co-facilitating our three-day workshop on USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants & Cooperative Agreements (in Spanish), November 8-10 in Lima, Peru. Register here.
Q: How long have you been working in the international development sector? How did you get your start?
A: I have worked in the Development Sector since 1981 – 35 years of professional experience. I started working as a Program Officer with Canadian CIDA here in Lima Peru, covering our development program in Peru and Bolivia.
How did you get involved with InsideNGO?
When I worked for Pathfinder International as the Director of the Peru office, my CFO, Ms. Beverly Armstrong, introduced me to InsideNGO as they needed a trainer that could do the trainings in Spanish. So I started doing trainings in Rules and Regs [USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants & Cooperative Agreements] in Spanish for the first time, most of them in Lima. Pathfinder afterwards transferred me to the USA to become the Global Director of the ESD (Extending Service Delivery) Project in Washington DC. I continued helping InsideNGO as a practitioner, and providing the trainings in Spanish, until I joined InsideNGO in 2011 as a permanent employee for two years. Now I am back in Lima, and I train for InsideNGO two or three times a year, either in Peru or in Colombia, or wherever I am needed. I love to train in USAID Rules and Regs, Project Management, and Proposal Development—I have done all these workshops in English, French, and Spanish all over the world.
Where in the world have you travelled, and which has been your favorite?
I have had the opportunity to travel most of Africa, Latin America, and some countries in Asia. I love every place I visit, each with its unique history and characteristics. I do not have one favorite.
What's a project you previously worked on that you found particularly interesting or rewarding?
Since I work in health and reproductive health, all my projects have been rewarding! I am particularly rewarded by the fact that I made a contribution to the reduction of maternal mortality in Peru. When I started working, our maternal mortality rate was about 420 [per 100,000 live births]; after 35 years we are at 77, and it is continuing to decrease. Our work in emergency obstetric care and in family planning have saved the lives of many women in my own country.
When you aren't travelling or working, what do you like to do?
I read at least one book every 10 days – historic novels are my favorite. I crochet a lot and have knitted more than 100 baby blankets, and I love movies. I also love the beach and swimming. I try to spend as much time as possible in my beach house, doing all my favorite things. When I am tired and need a break, I love trashy romance novels.
You speak Spanish, English, French, and Bulgarian, and the last one is rather uncommon. Why did you learn Bulgarian? Any plans to learn new languages?
My dad was Bulgarian, so my mother, brother and I learned Bulgarian when my grandparents came to live with us from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. We learned super quickly – I visited Bulgaria a couple years ago and realized that I have kept my fluency! I can also communicate in Italian and Portuguese (very similar to Spanish). I bought a Rosetta Stone program for Arabic, and I am hoping to have some time in the future to learn some Arabic.
You have several degrees and certifications. What inspires you to keep learning?
The more I read and learn, the more I realize I know very little. I am constantly hungry for more information, trying to find ways to make my job easier and faster, learning new tools to make life simpler.
Are there any particular moments from previous workshops that stick out to you—a funny story, an "a-ha!" moment, or anything else you remember well?
I love it when the trainees come up to me and say “why didn’t I know all this before?” or “I should have done this course 10 years ago when I started working.” Several trainees are “repeat” trainees: They like the training so much that after two or three years they want to refresh their knowledge – it is flattering to me that they want to listen to me all over again! My favorite ice breaker or energizer is musical chairs, however, I now separate women from men, as the first time I did the musical chairs, some women went out flying as the men were pushing for a chair! Now, I do two separate groups to prevent accidents!
Milka Dinev has 33 years of experience in the management of development projects and has worked as a donor with CIDA and as an implementing partner for USAID, DFID, NORAD, BMGF and private foundations working for CARE, Pathfinder International, International Relief and Development (IRD), and InsideNGO. She currently works for the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC). She is an engineer with an MS in Business Administration. She is also PMD Pro certified and has trained hundreds of professionals in the development sector. Would you like to train with Milka? Check out our USAID Rules & Regulations workshop in Lima, Peru.