The Evolution of Khuthaza

Encouraging change

 

Khuthaza Consulting is an independent off-shoot of Khuthaza Development Solutions, a non-profit that, for many years, supported transformation, in terms of race and gender, in the construction industry.

Khuthaza means “encourage” in isiZulu, and is a name suggested by a friend years ago when we were expanding the scope of the non-profit. The spirit of encouragement carries through in Khuthaza Consulting. We continue to encourage positive change through coaching and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The non-profit, which had started as a volunteer advocacy group known as Women for Housing, played a strong role in supporting women’s careers and businesses in the housing and construction sectors for many years. Equity, in terms of race and gender, was a central goal. We delivered professional and entrepreneurial development programmes, created valuable industry relationships, and developed an extensive network through which information, opportunities and skills were shared. As the Executive Director, I was responsible for the organisation’s leadership, strategy, growth, communications, stakeholder relations and operational management. We had a great team of colleagues and an expansive network.

Though Khuthaza developed a strong reputation and presence in the industry, the economy and industry conditions started to decline several years ago. After a few very difficult years we paused Khuthaza’s operations indefinitely due to challenges in securing sustainable sources of income. Conditions in the industry have unfortunately declined further. Following a break, exploring ideas, and research, I’ve redirected my focus.

Encouraging change, maximising potential

About: Liz O’Leary

Founding Consultant and Coach

About Me

 

As a Strategist and Coach focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion I aim to contribute to positive social change. In other words, I aim to be an anti-racism / anti-prejudice educator. While my main area of focus at this point is the education sector, the coaching aspect of my work will provide me with an opportunity to work with people across sectors.  

I have nearly 25 years of experience in socio-economic development and transformation in South Africa, including over 14 years leading Khuthaza Development Solutions, a non-profit focused on racial and gender equity in the housing and construction sectors. Prior to Khuthaza I worked for Nurcha, a housing finance organisation, now part of the Human Settlements Development Bank. My first work experience in Joburg was as a volunteer with Grasmere Community Development Trust, an organisation that provided basic health and social services in informal settlements. I had also previously worked for UNICEF-Boston on advocacy and fundraising. Throughout my youth I had a wide range of other jobs including working with my parents in family construction and property businesses.

My personal and professional experience has led me to pursue work directly aimed at preventing and reducing prejudice and racism. Following a period of exploration, research and developing my knowledge in this field, I have identified a great need and opportunity to work with school communities in South Africa and the United States.

I’ve known for some time that the next stage of my career would focus on “what we can do about racism.” Having done quite a bit of research, independent study, and looking at what both the academic researchers, educators and other practitioners on the ground are working on, I decided to focus my attention on working with schools.

Originally from small-town Goshen, Connecticut in the US, I have lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for nearly 25 years. I also love travelling and exploring this world we live in. In recent years I have thought more about how I became me, particularly in relation to my outlook on the world and its diversity, my perspective on racism and prejudices, and my commitment to fighting for positive change. I’ve identified critical factors and experiences that have contributed to who I am and hope to share some of these through my work. Though I am an avid reader, I have learned the most through openness, exposure, experiences and relationships!

Track Record

I have a track record of promoting positive change. This includes advocacy, policy development, leadership, and both the development and delivery of programmes focused on gender and racial equity.

Through my work with Khuthaza, the non-profit, I supported the development of women’s careers and businesses in the construction industry. As part of this I played an integral role in the development and implementation of the industry’s affirmative action policies, known as Black Economic Empowerment. As the Executive Director of the organisation, my work was recognised with several awards, including the Renowned Women Leadership & Empowerment Award from the Council for the Built Environment. I also served on several industry committees and was the first woman appointed to the board of the Cement & Concrete Institute in its 70 year history.

Education and Professional Development

    • 2018 – Professional Coaching Programme, University of Pretoria – Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) (Joburg)
    • 2008 – ImagiNation Leadership Programme, University of Pretoria – Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) (Joburg)
    • 1998 – MA in International Relations and African Studies from Boston University
    • 1994 – BA in History with a Minor in what was then referred to as Black Studies from Boston College
    • Over the years I’ve taken a number of professional development courses related to leadership, management, corporate governance, fundraising, social psychology etc.

In developing my knowledge related to these new focus areas, I have read extensively and met with a number of academics, educators, and practitioners in the field both in the US and SA. I’ve also attended a number of relevant courses including:

 

    • 2018 July – Reimagining Education: Teaching and Learning in Racially Diverse Schools Summer Institute, Columbia University – Teachers College (New York)
 
    • 2018 June – Race and Achievement Summer Institute, Newton Public Schools (Newton, MA)
 
    • 2018 April – Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools Institute, Harvard Graduate School of Education (Cambridge, MA)
 
    • 2018 March – St Benedict’s School / ISASA Social Cohesion Conference (Joburg)

Public Relations

Recognition

While working in the housing and construction space I wrote for many industry publications, spoke at several conferences and appeared on a number of TV and radio programmes. In 2006 I travelled to China with the Minister of Housing, Lindiwe Sisulu, and industry colleagues, to learn from China’s experience with rapid urban development.   

2013 Women in Construction Excellence Award from Totally Concrete

2009 OLAY Iconic Woman (Science & Technology) Award

2008 Renowned Women Leadership & Empowerment Award from the Council for the Built Environment

2006, 2007, 2008 Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans

Khuthaza’s work was also recognised by the Minister of Housing with the first Govan Mbeki Housing Award, Building Women magazine, the Institute for Housing, and other accolades.

Education and Professional Development

    • 1998 – MA in International Relations and African Studies from Boston University
 
    • 1994 – BA in History with a Minor in what was then referred to as Black Studies from Boston College
 
    • 2018 – Professional Coaching Programme, University of Pretoria – Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) (Joburg)
 
    • 2008 – ImagiNation Leadership Programme, University of Pretoria – Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) (Joburg)
 
  • Numerous professional development courses related to leadership, management, corporate governance, fundraising, social psychology etc.

In developing my knowledge related to these new focus areas, I have read extensively and met with a number of academics, educators, and practitioners in the field both in the US and SA. I’ve also attended a number of relevant courses including:

 

    • 2018 July – Reimagining Education: Teaching and Learning in Racially Diverse Schools Summer Institute, Columbia University – Teachers College (New York)
 
    • 2018 June – Race and Achievement Summer Institute, Newton Public Schools (Newton, MA)
 
    • 2018 April – Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools Institute, Harvard Graduate School of Education (Cambridge, MA)
    • 2018 March – St Benedict’s School / ISASA Social Cohesion Conference (Joburg)
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  • 2018 March – St Benedict’s School / ISASA Social Cohesion Conference (Joburg)

Public Relations

While working in the housing and construction space I wrote for many industry publications, spoke at several conferences and appeared on a number of TV and radio programmes. In 2006 I travelled to China with the Minister of Housing, Lindiwe Sisulu, and industry colleagues, to learn from China’s experience with rapid urban development.   

Recognition

2013 Women in Construction Excellence Award from Totally Concrete

2009 OLAY Iconic Woman (Science & Technology) Award

2008 Renowned Women Leadership & Empowerment Award from the Council for the Built Environment

2006, 2007, 2008 Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans

Khuthaza’s work was also recognised by the Minister of Housing with the first Govan Mbeki Housing Award, Building Women magazine, the Institute for Housing, and other accolades.