Allegra Panetto grew up in a small town in New Jersey and went to college in New York City where she studied Human Rights and Russian. She joined Peace Corps and served in Malawi, Africa. With this stint, the seed of desire to travel and experience different cultures had been sown. In the years to follow, Allegra traveled extensively and was enriched by her experiences and exposure.
Allegra currently lives in Durham with her partner of 5 years, Ben, and their dog! Allegra and Ben met in Peace Corps in Malawi. They then met their best friend, their dog Mphatso (pronounced Pot-so and appropriately means “gift” in the local language) and decided to bring her with them.
Allegra is a Masters student, studying International Development Policy at Duke. She embraces diversity and really enjoys learning from colleagues and professors about their experiences around the world. Her areas of focus are Peace-building and Conflict Resolution as well as gender issues in development.
Allegra’s favorite thing to do is travel. Over the last 10 years, she has been to more than 20 countries, and feels very fortunate for it. She also enjoys biking, yoga, cooking and delicious spicy food.
Allegra started volunteering and community service at a very early age. Allegra’s love for volunteering is based on her belief that you learn so much by giving back. Volunteering has given Allegra meaningful and poignant experiences in life. In high school and college, she worked with at-risk youth in schools in Harlem and as an ESL teacher for adults on the Upper West Side. The two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer gave her the opportunity to install solar electricity at a rural health center, and building desks for a secondary school. She also taught at the secondary school and was an instructor at a country-wide girls empowerment camp called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), which is a worldwide Peace Corps Initiative.
Allegra began volunteering with InStepp last fall when she started her graduate program. She came across InStepp Inc. when she was looking for community service opportunities to satisfy her scholarship requirement. InStepp’s mission to empower women is a cause that immediately resonated with Allegra and she found the programs and services offered by InStepp to be impressive. Allegra serves as a communications volunteer and also helps with special events as needed. InStepp Inc. inspires Allegra because of its focus on providing women with holistic services with the objective to empower them to rebuild their lives and be independent. It is humbling to see how the women who come to InStepp Inc. are empowered and determined to make a life for themselves and their families against all odds. Her experience with InStepp Inc. has made Allegra aware about the challenges and issues faced by the communities served and the ways to address them.
Per Allegra, InStepp is a very inclusive and welcoming organization that will help volunteers find a role to contribute virtually, and in a meaningful way. Allegra is optimistic about InStepp’s continuing mission in the community and feels InStepp Inc. can do so through partnerships.