As a veteran international development specialist, Vivian Lowery Derryck spent 35 years trying to influence governments in Africa by working with State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials, African heads of state, and non-profit leaders across the continent. She believed the right outside pressure and expert collaboration could meaningfully shape U.S. foreign policy toward Africa and improve democracy in African governance. Derryck left her tenure as Senior Vice President and Director of Public-Private Partnerships at the former Academy for Educational Development (AED) and joined the inaugural Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellowship program at Harvard University. She thought it would be an ideal opportunity to build on a long-standing desire to start an institute to build African democracy and strengthen good governance on the continent. She launched the Bridges Institute to promote civil society as a pivotal actor in bringing about more inclusive and effective policy dialogue in Africa. This case follows her journey and raises important questions about how to achieve such large scale change.