The Importance of Partnership: Why Making a Difference Takes a Community

By: Natalie L. Boehm, MBA, RBLP-T

Since launching The Defeating Epilepsy Foundation, my goal has been to carry out the mission of my organization and to improve the care and lives of individuals battling epilepsy. Achieving this goal, I knew from the beginning was not possible unless I was willing to work with others who shared a similar goal. One of the biggest challenges many entrepreneurs face is who can they partner with and trust? Who will share the same values as them and work with them to make a difference?

I spent a lot of time when I first launched and still do researching organizations that work in the same area. Are they truly passionate about what they do? Do they have a good reputation? How have they truly made a difference? These are questions that must be asked before committing to any project.

This past year I started creating a project to help individuals in Africa battling epilepsy. I was researching how to get medication to patients in need and was told about the ROW Foundation. ROW Foundation works all throughout Africa helping patients in low-income areas receive the medication they need to control their seizures. I met with Lori Hairrell the project manager of ROW Foundation and after speaking to her knew this was an organization I wanted to partner with. Researching the history of their organization and seeing what they were accomplishing I knew partnering with them would help in making a difference.

The reason I share this information is there is a lack of organizations supporting each other in the epilepsy community. A lot of organizations see others as competition and while we may be to a degree, we cannot cover and do everything. As social entrepreneurs, we need to be able to achieve our goals and making a difference by helping one another, not building walls.

ROW Foundation recently asked me to help take part in a project with Pretola Global Health and Consulting in helping to train doctors and nurses in low-income communities. The Epilepsy Management and Assessment Course is a three-month course that covers many areas doctors and nurses need to know about when working with patients battling epilepsy. Understanding what epilepsy is, mental health care, pre- and post-natal care for mothers with epilepsy, are just a few topics that are being offered in this very important course. For many individuals in Africa who are unable to get care due to a lack of resources, this is a first step to them getting the care they need and having a doctor who understands what they are going through. By partnering with ROW Foundation, we have been working to get the word out about this important project and do what we can to make a difference for individuals battling epilepsy. Projects like this would not be possible without organizations coming together and contributing to help make a difference in the community.

To learn more about this important course, you can visit Pretola’s website at or email them at to receive the information. I thank ROW Foundation and Lori Hairrell for the opportunity to work with them and help to establish the need for projects like this. Thank you for your support and together we will defeat epilepsy.

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