Cate Biggs

Cate on a documentary project in Liberia, 2009.

Cate Biggs is  a free-lance writer, consultant, and adjunct professor committed to a broad notion of global education~ life-long learning in any context. An “information concierge” (filtering, digesting, synthesizing are among her verbs), Cate has created presentations and communications to help the general public engage in conversations about international affairs from a place of comfort, confidence, and capacity.  In addition to writing layman’s guides to critical global issues, she has documented the work of  extraordinary organizations and individuals who are addressing these issues, and has traveled with international NGOs in Africa to tell stories from the field.

“Too many people skip the international news because they feel they have been dropped into the middle of ongoing stories they don’t understand,” says this passionate news nerd.  “Most non-experts (parents, professionals, the average global citizen) are simply not naturally equipped to follow current world news and trends – we need smart dummies guides to fill in background and context, so the stories make sense.  And we need to add texture, soul, and heart to this content knowledge so that people can engage in the important stories around them in the global community.”

“You can be that smart person in the room…when your children come home from school talking about world matters, at the dinner party where the conversation turns to international news, in meetings where global issues are an increasingly important undercurrent to understand.  Better yet, you can take that knowledge and do something with it – as a volunteer, donor, activist, or advocate – for international causes.”

Cate first began this information crusade in the realm of K-12 education, teaming up with World Savvy, an education non-profit, to develop an on-line magazine for teachers (a smart dummies guide to global affairs).

As lead researcher and writer, Cate tackled countries – Sudan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, Mexico – and big issues – Democracy Around the World, Global Poverty and International Development, Human Migration, Water, and The Global Status of Women.  One-stop shops for everything you need to know to talk intelligently about a subject in the news – from maps to timelines, to perspectives and analysis from all around the world and all along the political spectrum.

As time went on, Cate came to feel this concept had legs beyond educators, and began to write for NGOs, foundations, and donors working on the issues she had covered in the Monitor.

In 2007,  she traveled to Rwanda with US-based NGO Axis of Hope to report on a regional post-Genocide conflict prevention conference involving youth from Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2009, she teamed up with photographer Nancy Farese on a trip to Liberia to profile individuals and organizations (The Carter Center, Right to Play, and Mercy Corps) active in the reconstruction and development of the country following the civil wars of 1989-2003. Highlights of the trip included almost getting arrested (twice), and interviewing President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first ever African female head of state.

Blending narrative and images, Cate and Nancy created products to educate the public about the complexities of women’s empowerment efforts in Liberia and beyond. The goal was to shed light on this important trend in the development field, and to explore how different players are partnering in creative ways to create new paradigms of aid to Africa.See blogging on some of their adventures at  PhotoPhilanthropy’s Liberia Blog and The PhotoPhilanthropy Blog and photo essays from their 2009 trip published with the San Francisco Chronicle Shifting Perspectives: Liberia Through Different Lenses.

In 2010, Cate and Nancy  returned to West Africa exclusively with The Carter Center to take a deeper dive into the organization’s programs in the areas of peace, justice, health, and mental health.  Back to Liberia and this time to Ghana as well, they interviewed government officials, spoke with international experts, worked alongside Carter Center staff, and spent time with local stakeholders in an effort to raise awareness and enhance support for The Center’s important work.  More blogs, a video documentary, and presentations to small groups followed; and, in May 2011, Cate delivered a feature presentation and led a panel discussion at The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco about The Carter Center.

Cate’s work is not only telling stories, but also unpacking the concepts and challenges underlying the work of these organizations and changemakers.  Really seeking to explain why what they do matters.  In a unique and fresh voice… with humility and passion and humor… smart, but accessible and not too wonky…new angles and nuances beyond the sound bites..exploring the gray areas.

Cate has a BA from Yale University in American and African-American Studies, and a Masters in Social Welfare Management and Planning from UC-Berkeley.  She has been a high school teacher, a K-12 Global Education consultant, and worked extensively in the non-profit and foundation realm.

In 2014, she collaborated with World Savvy, The Asia Society, and Columbia University Teachers College to create a class based on the material here for the Global Competence Certificate.  She currently teaches this class on-line to K-16 teachers from around the country and internationally.

She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and three daughters on whom she routinely turns her zealotry for international affairs. Despite the eye-rolling at dinner table discussions, Cate hopes she is turning out passionate global citizens of her own.

3 responses to “Cate Biggs

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