The President’s Young Professionals Program—Mentorship, Leadership, and Innovative Solutions for the Government of Liberia

Stefanie Buttner – President’s Young Professionals Program, Class IV

Photo of Stefani ButtnerAfter graduating from United Methodist University (UMU) with a Bachelor's Degree in Management, Stefanie Buttner began working as an event planner. Still, she was not happy with her job because it did not fulfill her aspirations to work in an office setting. Stefanie believed she was not gaining valuable skills for the future and wanted more. Everything changed when she saw an advertisement for the President’s Young Professionals (PYP) Program in a Liberian newspaper—an innovative program that prepares highly qualified Liberian youth for leadership in public service, and equips them with tools to positively contribute to the overall development of Liberia.  She decided to apply with the support of her mother, who urged Stefanie to pursue the program for the experience.

She decided to apply with the support of her mother, who urged Stefanie to pursue the program for the experience.

To Stefanie’s delight, she successfully made it through the application process and was accepted as a member of Class IV. She is now the only PYP working in the new Project Management Office of the Budget Department within the Ministry of Finance. She has finally received the office experience that she desired, learning to work with Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), a computerized planning and budget formulation process. The work she is doing is innovative. Of all the new opportunities, Stefanie has been in awe of her ability to express herself and contribute useful ideas to the various government projects on which she works. Most of all, Stefanie feels that the PYP program has been an incredible learning experience which has provided her with invaluable tools for success as she embarks upon her chosen career path.

Stefanie has been in awe of her ability to express herself and contribute useful ideas to the various government projects on which she works. Most of all, Stefanie feels that the PYP program has been an incredible learning experience which has provided her with invaluable tools for success as she embarks upon her chosen career path.

Much of her experience has been influenced by the superiors that she had the pleasure of working with as a PYP. Each PYP has an assigned mentor. Stefanie views her mentor, who works with USAID-GEMS (Government & Economic Management Support Project), as an older sister with whom she can speak to about more than just workplace matters. She has also benefited from her dedicated boss who acts like a second mentor at times. She describes him as an individual who, “will push you until you learn it,” when she is met with challenges.  From all of the skills she has acquired from working with her mentors as part of the PYP program, the most beneficial for Stefanie has been the ability “to think critically and create solutions to difficult situations.”

From all of the skills she has acquired from working with her mentors as part of the PYP program, the most beneficial for Stefanie has been the ability “to think critically and create solutions to difficult situations.”

Stefanie’s major accomplishments have been the recognition of her potential by the Ministry, which has boosted her self-esteem, and the ability to accomplish tasks successfully when placed in a position of leadership. She recognizes the role she can play in passing along the lessons she has learned, and hopes that she can serve as a mentor to future PYPs. Her advice to a new class of PYPs would be to know that they are there to better their skills for their future, and remain focused. For her future, Stefanie is determined to make use of her talents and pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Planning, and is entertaining the possibility for law school as well. Her goal is to establish a consulting agency for environmental and urban planning.

To learn more about the President’s Young Professionals Program, please visit pyppliberia.org.

The President’s Young Professionals Program (PYPP) of Liberia is a prestigious two-year fellowship that places recent Liberian college graduates in important government roles and provides them with training and mentorship as they support the government’s top priorities. Launched by H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2009, the PYPP is now one of Africa’s most competitive programs for leadership in public service.