Irina is the CEO of RenovaBR, a Brazil-based political leadership incubator featured in our “28 Non-Partisan PLIs to Watch” list. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader with a background in finance and business development.
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How would you describe your political path?
My trajectory in politics only really started officially when I took over as CEO of RenovaBR! We are a Brazilian political leadership incubator for ordinary people who have an interest in participating in politics, either by being elected into office or in a bureaucratic role. Before joining Renova, I worked in education and infrastructure, which are fields intrinsically linked to politics here in Brazil, though I did not have direct contact with government relationships in these roles.
What are the most useful lessons you've learnt on the way?
The most valuable lesson I have learned is that dialogue is crucial to a political project that improves a country. Our democracy is made up of a wide range of groups, all of which must be taken into account in policymaking. At the core of democracy is respectful dialogue with all these groups, including crucially people who think differently and who have different backgrounds to one’s own.
What are the top three things that could be done to get courageous, ethical and trusted politicians in your area?
Politics is the biggest arena for change in a country. In countries such as Brazil, where there is a strong distrust of politicians and disbelief in their ethics, it is necessary to:
Attract talent with strong existing morals to formation courses like the ones we have at Renova.
To continuously train them based on data and evidence, in order to better prepare them for real life representational duty. We must offer them the necessary tools for them to be successful in their campaigns and mandates.
To complement these two strategies, it is crucial to maintain a welcoming community that embraces people despite their differences in ideology and origin.
What ideas and/or people are inspiring you at the moment?
The possibility of strengthening an international network of leaders who are engaged with transforming their societies into better places. Having a strong knowledge exchange with the people that were prepared by other political leadership incubators, such as the Collège Citoyen of France or the Fratelli Tutti Political School in the Vatican, has been a source of inspiration.
What story do you want communities to tell about politicians?
I’d like them to tell the story of a generation of leaders who changed the population’s perception of politicians, a perception which was transformed into a belief that politicians are ethical people committed to inclusive public policies and are representative of gender, race and regional diversity. I also want people to talk about how RenovaBR helped lead this story of transformation in politics.
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