AGM 2012 Committee Breakout Reports

 

Membership Committee

Paula Goddard and Nancy Tumavick, Co-Chairs

The Goal of the Membership Committee is to expand the membership of the Association, through outreach and events. The membership dues and member benefits must be in balance to attract new members and serve their interests.  The USAID Alumni community is diverse, comprised of fully retired, re-hired, full-time working, and part time working individuals. The UAA serves those who want a social experience only, as well as those who want to engage in influencing USAID and stay engaged in foreign policy discussions. Therefore the membership strategy was designed to provide a variety of benefits and activities to serve the widest possible membership needs.

Chair Nancy Tumavick gave a summary of the activities of the Committee during 2012.

Achievements included:

  • Approval of our Membership Expansion Strategy by the UAA Board
  • Membership contribution structure approved
  • Progress on expanding membership beyond the Washington DC metropolitan area both in the US and overseas
  • Progress on expanding membership to FSNs now living in the US
  • Quarterly social activities for members in the Washington DC metropolitan area

Co-Chair Paula Goddard reviewed the dues structure and gave a summary of the year’s social events

  • Spring Reception in the garden at DACOR House;
  • Summer Picnic at Pamela Baldwin’s farm in Lovettsville, VA.;
  • Movie showing entitled “Point Four: The History of Alemaya (Ethiopia) College”

Former Mission Director Dick Brown has volunteered to put together a group of Alumni living in North Carolina. There are a good number statewide (26 or more). However they are not concentrated in one location and having meetings or events for all might be impossible. There no formal “chapter” process in UAA, so the North Carolina group possibly will be the first to organize at the state level.  Don Soules, Committee member, will follow up with Dick to develop the North Carolina group further.

Several  participants raised questions about whether the membership contribution should be revised to allow for “social members” who may attend a meeting or an event once a year but not more.  UAA Board member Margaret Carpenter explained the process for reaching decisions about the current contribution structure and that it is settled at least for one year. It may be revisited in the future, as there is a need to gather more information from members and potential members, to determine if the current contribution levels are an obstacle to bringing in more members of all interests into the Association.

 

Development Issues Committee

Curt Farrar and Larry Smucker, Co-Chairs

The UAA Draft Strategic Plan for 2013-2015 was used as the framework for the Committee’s discussion.  The group confirmed the importance of moving ahead, in response to USAID’s request, with a focus on urbanization along the lines set forth by Owen Cylke (who is leading the effort on behalf of the Committee).  There was agreement that UAA was not equipped to – and should not try to – provide expert technical assistance to USAID. Rather, the goal of UAA’s efforts might best be to help create an “enabling environment” which would give this critical issue a higher profile in USAID’s (and perhaps other agencies’) program(s). It was also agreed that it made sense to develop this area not simply as a narrow sectoral matter but as a part of a broader set of issues (e.g. sectoral change and the economic transition, demographics, industrialization and employment, environment and sustainability, financing of social and urban services).  Various specific steps in Cylke’s plan were discussed, including the arrangement of a number of presentations and workshops for USAID staff and, gradually, for others in the Washington community.  The UAA/DACOR Development Dialogue (DD) program was likely to be one venue, but the group agreed that other formats and locations should be considered as well.

The group encouraged the UAA leadership to continue discussions with USAID to determine additional areas for UAA involvement in USAID’s policy and strategy development.

It was also suggested that there might be specific areas of interest to alumni – with or without USAID interest – which would merit creation of UAA Development Issues Committee sub-groups – e.g., in agriculture and gender issues.  Alumni were urged to think about this and suggest potential topic areas to the Committee’s co-chairs. It was also noted that Susan Reichle and David Eckerson had stressed the need for attention to local capacity development – a group to advise USAID on this subject should be considered, either by the Development Issues Committee or by the Strengthening USAID Committee.

It was also agreed that the UAA/DACOR DD program should be enhanced by increasing the number of featured speakers in the next two years and that a number of these might be part of a thematic series.  Committee members were urged to make suggestions for both themes and speakers they believe would be of interest to a wider audience, including the State Department alumni in DACOR.  In addition, to make management of the process of selecting topics and speakers a bit more structured, the Committee co-chairs were asked to designate five members for the DD sub-committee led by Gary Merritt.  Members were encouraged to attend more of the DD sessions as well.

It was also noted that a volunteer was needed to act as an “archivist” to help organize and place important development documents on the UAA website.

It was agreed that an email would be sent soon to all committee members to gain further guidance on the issues noted here and to receive indications of interest in volunteering to lead and/or participate in UAA activities.  Members were urged to become active in the committee’s work.

 

Strengthening USAID Committee

David Cohen and Pamela Mandel, Co-Chairs

 There were 22 attendees at the Strengthening USAID Committee breakout session.  There was a lively discussion, mostly focused on the Europe and Eurasia Bureau (E&E)/UAA Mentoring Pilot Program.  Dr. Anne Patterson, the USAID coordinator for the Pilot Program, was able to attend the session.  She reported that Mission Directors in the E&E Bureau have been advised of the Program, and have been contacted about identifying potential mentees.  To-date, there are four possible mentees in Russia, and four in the Balkans.  Some 11 attendees at the session expressed interest in being mentors.

Attendees expressed some concerns about the mentoring program, including:

  • Constraints of mentoring at a distance
  • Mentor experience may be out-of-date
  • The importance of differentiating between other Agency mentoring programs and what the UAA mentoring program can/will provide

The co-chairs clarified that they are envisioning a mentoring program that will help mentees with the thinking process, with problem solving and with some personal issues.  Mentors will provide guidance in skills/tasks to mentees in a different way than that provided by consultants.

While some of the guidance may reflect earlier experience in project development and host country contracting, for instance, UAA mentors will not be counseling on going back to the “old ways” of doing things, but learning from that experience and adapting program processes and design tools to today’s political and development realities.

Next steps:

  • Identifying and matching E&E mentee needs with potential mentors
  • Developing training programs for mentors/mentees

It was pointed out that this mentoring program is not the sole focus of the Strengthening USAID Committee.  The Committee welcomes ongoing input from those who attended the session, and anyone else who wishes to have a more active role in the Strengthening USAID initiatives.

In the longer term, as Haven North articulated, the Committee should consider focusing on thinking about where development should be and could be in coming decades, and the potential role of UAA in advising the Agency.  Collette Cowey suggested that the Committee could undertake a ‘visioning exercise’ to advance its thinking on this.

 

Public Outreach Committee

Ann Van Dusen and Brad Langmaid, Co-chairs

The Public Outreach Committee, including several new members, met to review UAA experience in tapping the expertise of USAID alumni to inform audiences around the country about development and development assistance.  While it is clear that many alumni regularly speak to university and community groups, drawing on the experience with USAID, the Committee has not been able to mobilize a Speakers Bureau with enough depth to publicize to groups such as Foreign Affairs Councils or Rotary Clubs.

Several steps were suggested to restart the speakers program.  First, the Committee wants to poll the UAA membership on their recent speaking engagements of development related topics.  Second, the Committee suggested starting in the Washington DC area, and perhaps start with the career offices of local universities to assess interest in having alumni come speak about development and careers in development.

The Committee discussed the advisability of posting bios of UAA members on the website as a way of increasing interest in reaching out to members for their expertise.  Some thought that members would be reluctant to share this information in so public a forum, but this is a question we can pose to the membership when we poll them about their recent speaking experience.

The Committee also discussed the proposal that it take the lead in reaching out to other organizations whose membership and membership interests might overlap with the UAA.  These could include the USGLV, Chambers of Commerce, the Peace Corps Association, and others.  The initial step would be to inform these networks about the UAA, but with a view to possible joint activities at some future date.

 

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