Blog / Impact & Interventions,Stories from the Field / Driving impact at the grassroots: Know our team

Driving impact at the grassroots: Know our team

Antara Foundation
Antara Foundation
Published on May 29, 2024 |

Our team is at the heart of our mission. Antara Foundation comprises a dynamic, diverse and entrepreneurial team, conjoined by an overwhelming sense of purpose to – ‘ensure every mother and each child has an equal start to a healthy life’. Our people come from different corners of India, with varied backgrounds and skills, all passionate towards a shared vision.
We pride ourselves on our culture. Antara Foundation is all about putting the community first. It’s about creative thinking, being open to feedback, the willingness to learn, and transcending our comfort zones. We strongly live by the values of humility and integrity. We apply business thinking to social problems, with a sharp focus on execution at the grassroots (a ‘dirt under our fingernails’ approach).
In this article, we highlight some of our key field-based roles, and how they all come together to drive impact at the last-mile.

Program Officers
Our program officers handle different blocks within our districts, each looking after 150 to 200 villages, covering a population of 150,000 to 200,000. The program officer is responsible for end-to-end execution of all interventions in his or her block and owns outcomes in that geography. For this reason, we often refer to a program officer’s role as the all-important “CEO of a block”! Working at this scale single-handedly is possible through our leverage model of collaborating and working through the existing government system – frontline health workers, health facility staff, supervisors at different levels and senior block and district officials.

Program officers spend more than 80% of their time in the field, with the remainder of the time spent in design, planning and analysis. Typical tasks include intervention implementation (e.g., group trainings, on-site handholding, execution logistics), progress monitoring (e.g., observation of intervention activities, data collection, outcome assessments) and government liaison (e.g., orienting officials, review meetings, joint field visits). Data-driven analysis and decision-making helps the program officer prioritize weaker geographies.

Program officers are constantly challenged to go above and beyond. For example, issues of missing roads or critical infrastructure gaps may need powerful ground-level data and focused discussions with senior officials to highlight impact on health outcomes and initiate action. People management skills are key to motivate frontline workers. The fast-evolving public health landscape means that program officers are always learning, adapting and drawing insights to refine our interventions.

Through my work, I am able to make sure voices from the field get heard. I ensure the right stakeholders know what action to take and where. I also really appreciate the fact that I am creating a health system (through our interventions) that can stand the test of time.
– Senior Program Officer, Antara Foundation
There is tremendous personal growth in the work that we do. It’s the whole thing. From learning to be confident and assertive, persuading people, getting people to take me seriously while at the same time learning to not take myself seriously.
– Program Officer, Antara Foundation

Nurse Mentors
Our nurse mentors are medical professionals with significant technical and practical experience on maternal and child health. They drive two important interventions to bridge critical knowledge and skill gaps – ‘nurse mentoring and facilities enhancement’ and ‘MNCHN1 capacity building’.
Nurse mentors train birthing nurses to carry out deliveries properly, manage complications, and re-organize and enhance labor rooms. Their typical tasks include gap analysis, comprehensive classroom trainings, observation of live deliveries, and bedside handholding to birthing nurses. A nurse mentor usually trains 15-20 nurses over a year, across high-volume delivery points in the district. They conduct group trainings and on-site guidance for frontline health workers on essential themes such as managing high-risk pregnancies, managing malnourished children, home-based newborn care, and so on.
Antara Foundation’s nurse mentors have one of the most intense, but satisfying roles in the organization. A complication well-handled, or a critical case referred in time by their mentees has a direct bearing on a mother’s or child’s life. Truly saving lives, one safe delivery at a time!
“My wish is to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths and enable greater institutional deliveries through my role as a nurse mentor. My job gives me the opportunity to constantly keep learning, apply innovative teaching methods, and become a role model for my trainees. I hope my nurse mentees ultimately become nurse mentors themselves and are able to train many other government nurses to provide quality services and save lives.”
– Nurse Mentor, Antara Foundation

Antara Foundation has one of the most rigorous and experiential Fellowship programs in the development sector that attracts some of India’s brightest young professionals. Fellows are placed across our program districts, and work closely alongside the program team, supporting program design, field implementation and monitoring, government relations and communications. In the process, they acquire invaluable knowledge, skills and an unparalleled grassroots experience.
Fellows first shadow and apprentice under our program officers. They imbibe crucial public health and MNCHN1 concepts, learn the art of interacting with and training frontline workers and communities, and gradually assume larger responsibilities. Over time, Fellows lend incredible support to program officers, and many take charge of sub-block units in a span of just a few months. Fellows also initiate side projects (e.g., document case studies, write blogs and research pieces) to capture and demonstrate field insights.
Several of our Fellows accept full-time roles with us post their tenure and become valuable trained team members. Read a blog by one of our former Fellows (now a Program Officer) on some of her field experiences (link to blog).

“What inspires me to do what I do are the frontline workers, women and men I meet on field who have challenged norms and gone out of their way to bring positive change to their life, work and communities. It pushes me to do my best as well. What drives me is the idea of meeting people and working on projects that challenge my perception, judgment and abilities.
– Fellow, Antara Foundation

“The best solutions to complex problems often come from those closest to the issues.”