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UAA Secretary’s Report

First Annual General Meeting of 10 Nov 2009

The first UAA Annual General Meeting was called to order at 9:35 am on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, in the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA.  The day-long event was attended by 106 alumni. Co-Chair of the Interim Executive Committee, Patrick Fine, introduced the day’s agenda which included a summary of progress to date in forming the organization as a legal entity, reports from the UAA working groups, two panel presentations and a UAA business meeting. Members who had not already voted electronically cast their votes for the first Board of Directors and results were tallied and announced at the end of the day.

During the opening session Patrick provided a short history and an update on UAA evolution, citing the initial spark provided by Henrietta Holzman Fore in her final months as Administrator of USAID. Patrick described active alumni of USAID as a passionate group that cares about international development and US conduct in the world, who also care about each other and want an organization to bring us together.  Patrick described the challenges currently facing USAID, without an Administrator or other political appointees in place, and highlighted areas where the UAA can play a role in the transition once these posts are filled. He introduced the Interim Executive Committee who led the association through its first year: Hank Bassford, Terry Brown, Curtis Farrar, Patrick Fine, Paula Goddard, George Hill, Ray Love, Gary Merritt, Jim Michel, Tony Pryor, Stacey Rhodes, Doug Tinsler, Barbara Turner, Aaron Williams, Nimi Wijesooriya, and Frank Young.  The four committees – Strengthening USAID (Turner  & Brown); Development Issues (Farrar & Hill); Membership & Web (Merritt); and Outreach & Alliances (Fine for Tinsler & Young) –  presented brief reports with Q’s and A’s.

Listen in to this portion of the Meeting – click here for streaming audio recording of introduction and updates.

The second morning session was devoted to a panel and discussion on the Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review (QDDR).  Panelists George Ingram of the Global Leadership Campaign, Chris Milligan, USAID officer in State/F Bureau, and Dean Peterson from State reviewed the QDDR process launched by the Secretary of State in July. It was described as a “unique opportunity to make the case for development and the role of development in foreign policy…including restoring USAID to a premier development agency.” The QDDR involves diplomats and development experts “looking at capabilities…not making policy” and trying to align policy, strategy, structures and resources. Seven working groups and twenty-five sub-groups started in early 2009 with a timeline of one year to go through two phases of analysis and report writing, completing reports in late summer 2010.

After lunch and networking, the second panel was introduced by Hank Bassford, UAA Interim Co-Chair. The panel of former USAID Administrators Peter McPherson, Andrew Natsios, and Henrietta Holzman Fore addressed the theme of Foreign Assistance reform and proposed ways for the UAA to effectively participate in reform efforts. Henrietta noted how fragmented the foreign assistance program had become and pledged to work for consensus on the importance of development, putting the host country first and revitalizing USAID operationally and intellectually. She said the Administrator of USAID is playing in a “tough inside game” and needs a seat on the National Security Council and perhaps an Advisory Council to play a stronger role in the interagency process. Peter McPherson noted how much more complex the world is now compared to when he was in USAID and yet USG Foreign Assistance still largely is governed by legislation written in 1961.

Peter stated his conviction that USAID needs coherent budget authority, policy authority, and prominence in structure in order to effectively lead globally. Natsios, who is writing a book on foreign aid, remarked on how little is known or remembered about the successes of past aid programs. He noted how a generation of political and technical leaders in less developed countries was educated and trained, the green revolution was introduced, and yet conventional wisdom has it that “aid has failed.” He specifically pointed to the excess of “indicators” yet we still can’t “tell the story.”  This panel was followed by a very lively Q & A session.

During the course of this panel of former Administrators, the press released the name of President Obama’s candidate to become the next USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah. The news galvanized efforts to organize quickly and provide a briefing for Shah and perhaps questions for his confirmation hearing.

Listen in…click here for streaming audio recording of the presentations of former Administrators and floor discussions…lively!

The final session of the day was a Business Meeting which began with the Treasurer’s report – as of 10 Nov 2009, UAA had roughly $2,500 net of receipts and expenditures – reassurance that UAA is solvent.  [note: after paying conference costs and accruals thru November, about $1000 was available]  Discussion of the association’s finances and dues structure followed. The membership debated and voted for a basic $75 membership dues beginning in 2010 with agreement to try to do fund-raising between January and March to determine what our likely resources will be for planning activities.

An intention was endorsed to write op-ed and other articles on behalf of UAA in support of development assistance. Dwight Steen, Connie Collins, Gary Merritt, Dick Martin, George Hill and John Lovass volunteered to promote these.

Election Committee chairs Ann Van Dusen and George Hill announced the election results for the Board of Directors: Hank Bassford, Terry Brown, Patrick Fine, Paula Goddard, Gary Merritt, Carol Peasley and Nancy Tumavick. Four will serve two-year terms; three will serve one-year terms…they will sort this out over time.

AGM participants, UAA contributors, and further reporting will be posted to the website.

The meeting ended with a Cocktail Reception at 4:30 pm.

Secretary – Paula Goddard

Noted and approved with much appreciation by the Board – 8Dec09

NOTES:

About fifty (50) alumni volunteered to enlarge the four committees, and a new sub-committee was formed to promote revival of the Agency’s Development Studies Program (DSP) with concerted alumni input.  Some committees have begun meeting – all likely will be doing so in January.

It was several times stressed and formally resolved at the 10 Nov meeting that we must encourage and make it as easy as possible for those living outside the DC region to participate in UAA committee process and products.

A small delegation was selected to represent UAA in a small introductory meeting being arranged with the USAID Administrator Nominee – Rajiv Shah.  These are: Terry Brown, Carol Peasley, Barbara Turner, and Richard Nygard.  They are to mainly listen to Dr. Shah’s points of interest and focus suggestions, if any, on their areas of experience – mostly budgeting, finance, and policy stuff like rebuilding PPC functions within the Agency.
Re AGM, more notes, slides, and a few photos will be available on the UAA website whenever we can get to it.  We’d hoped to offer smaller audio files coupled to the ppt slides and photos but have focused instead on following up with the newly forming working group/committees – about which, more soon.  Thanks, Tony Pryor, for ensuring that we have the excellent audio recordings and easy access to them.

Thanks to all of you who participated in events and contributed to making UAA possible in 2009!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO US ALL !


Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by USAID Administrator Designate Dr. Rajiv Shah, December 1, 2009 http://www.usaid.gov/press/speeches/2009/ty091201.html or view a PDF version.


Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, asked UAA to notify alumni that APLU is seeking a VP to work with him on international programs beginning in early 2010.  Click here to read the full APLU VP job notice (PDF).


UAA Officially Registered

Thanks to the help and good offices of Rob Sonnenthal the Association now is registered in the District of Columbia under the Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act.  This means we will end our interim status as a Society for International Development Working Group as planned.

We have established an Association bank account with Lafayette Federal Credit Union. Aaron Williams (Treasurer) and Patrick Fine (co-Chair) are co-signatories. (More on finances below.)  Our next step is to file with the District of Columbia a business plan that justifies 501(c)(3) tax free status so our contributions may be tax deductible.  The business plan is underway – we expect to consider key features of it at the Executive Committee’s meeting in August.

Many thanks to everyone who put in time on the Articles and By-Laws. These can be viewed or downloaded from the web site from within the Members log-in section. Contributions are rewarded with log-in ID and password [hint]…let us know if you wish to log-in.


Website and Communications

At www.usaidalumni.org alumni can, e.g., check on selected international aid reform papers, look for UAA-sponsored or related events, join the Association, see occasional job postings, and find and download the UAA contact list and organization information.  Gary Merritt set up and maintains our email list and web site – at a low cost a fledgling organization like ours can manage based on all-volunteer inputs.

In managing our email list and compiling our first UAA survey, Gary had some days of valuable assistance from Avinash Clarke – an intern provided through SID (we need to find another for the coming academic year).  In the past, many alumni wrote to say they did not receive a message or that they would like to join the Association.  If anyone asks now, please direct them to the website where this message plus other information and sign-up are available. And don’t be shy about feedback with suggestions on any level!

The website also includes information on contributing to the Association. Over forty people have contributed $50 or more to help build the platform and launch the Association, including: Carol Carpenter-Yaman, John Heard, Clarence Zuvekas, Sharon Epstein, Gary and Marilyn Merritt, Curtis Farrar, Authur Mudge, Carole Palma, Patricia Harrison, John Breen, David Adams, Barbara Sandoval, Ronald Venezia, Morrie Blumberg, Gary Bisson, David and Barbara Shear, Frederick Machmer, Jeanne and Haven North, Terry Brown, Barbara Turner, Rosalie Finale, Frank Young, Stacy Rhodes, Paula Goddard, S. Patton, Patrick Fine, Carol Peasley, Aaron Williams, George Hill, Jock Conly, Hank Bassford, Jim Michel, Joe & Caroline Stepanek, Robert Maushammer, Ray Martin, Anthony Vodraska, David Cohen, Gerard (Jerry) Bowers.  Others, too, but we’re still catching up with postings.  Thanks to you all!

So far, UAA’s principal expenditures have been for the website and communications. That likely will continue to be our main recurrent expenditure.  Alumni contributions testify to our community of interest in foreign assistance policy and the wish to stay apprised and involved.  To date, we’ve collected almost $3,000—the vast majority $50 individual contributions.  An important next step in UAA governance will be to establish a regular membership dues structure and clarify our “products.”  These will, of course, be on the Agenda at the Association’s first annual general membership meeting.


Main Foci-Four Committees

UAA is organized into four working committees as suggested at our first gathering at RRB on 13 September 2008 : 1) Public Outreach;  2) Strengthening USAID;  3) Membership and Alumni Activities; and  4) Development Issues.  These are intended to provide the structure within which the Association’s program work takes place.  A brief update on each:

Strengthening USAID

A very active committee, we’ve met with USAID’s HR office to discuss USAID recuitment as it expands the number of foreign service officers through the Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) and in particular, how USAID can recruit alumni back into the Agency and to serve as mentors to new employees.  We have facilitated alumni participation in orientation sessions with new employees.  We have posted an announcement on the website with information on how alumni interested in either working or volunteering can get involved.  And, we have met with Joe Gueron and staff at M/CIO/KM and agreed to collaborate in documenting USAID experience and supporting USAID’s Knowledge Management Center, possibly also advocating together for revival of the Development Studies Program.

Andrew Natsios and UAA are collaborating on a second survey of alumni experience and views, building on our March survey of views on priorities for reform of FAA’61.  Andrew is collecting information for a book he is writing on implementing development assistance.  We hope you will take some time and respond to this opportunity to provide narrative insights on programming development from practitioners’ perspectives ‘on the ground.’  This survey may be in your mail next week – we are sharpening and reducing it a bit before sending it to you.

Development Issues

UAA will request a meeting with the new Administrator, once s/he is appointed, to share our views on priorities for foreign assistance and USAID.  Over forty alumni responded thoughtfully to our survey in March on priorities for reform of FAA61 and current USAID operations and objectives (see website, Members section for a 28pp compilation of views expressed – some are very good and have influenced advocacy by individuals though UAA has not codified a formal ‘position paper’.  The committee has started work on talking points to guide discussion with USAID leaders and possibly others.  We also will request a meeting with State’s point person, Dr. Ann Marie Slaughter.

Membership and Activities

Active registration for being on the contact list has grown steadily to well over 600, as does the smaller number of contributing Members.  So far, it is mostly ex-Foreign Service USDH but as former GS, FSNs, and ex- USAID Fellows learn of UAA we expect numbers to grow further.  Contacts and Members from SFS/BS01, so far constitute about 20% of total.

Running an Association, even on a voluntary basis, has real costs.  The web domain, server, software, and very minimal webmaster costs are running at about $2000 per year.  As/if we add features, make the site more interactive, and accordingly contract for a higher level of web management, the cost will go up – a good bit more.

In recent months, with DACOR, the Association has co-sponsored well-known speakers on development issues, including Jim Kolbe, Peter McPherson, Brian Atwood and Henrietta Fore at a bi-monthly lunch seminar series – Development Dialogues.  Average alumni participation has been about 40 per event; the socializing also has been fun.

Outreach

Outreach efforts began with a letter to and subsequent meeting with the Transition Team (see UAA Archives).  Since then, we have been working with other committees to figure out how to engage key senior people at State (Dr. Slaughter per above, Jack Lew, and the new
Administrator/Deputy when they are confirmed) on issues of aid reform and USAID strengthening.  The Outreach Committee will also be involved in organizing our first Annual Meeting and working with the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network as a resource group to ensure alumni voices are heard in the continuing debate on reform and USAID capacity building.  We welcome ideas from membership on other outreach activities.


Closing

Main items on the horizon : 1) obtaining 501(c)(3) status; 2) organizing our Annual Meeting at which we will elect officers and affirm or change Articles and By-laws;  and 3) continuing to find ways for alumni to support USAID and the effective use of foreign assistance more generally.

Now that we are legally established, have a bank account, and a planned schedule of activities and expenditures, you can be confident your contribution is being put to good use.  Any who want to support the Association but have not yet contributed please send your check made out to: USAID Alumni Association and mail them to our official address: USAID Alumni Association (or UAA) c/o DACOR, 1801 F Street NW, Washington DC 20006.

We certainly could use more volunteers on various opportunities including the DLI follow-through, annual meeting organization, website and email contact management, and analytic and policy-related products and process.  If you want to jump in, please send a note to office@usaidalumni.org and indicate the committee or activity you want to help with so we can direct the messages to the right place.
Finally, we want to take this opportunity to congratulate member and Association Treasurer, Aaron Williams, for his appointment as the Director of Peace Corps!  For everyone who cares about America’s role in the world (and for all of us former PCVs) it is thrilling news that this key part of US foreign engagement will be headed by one of the best and the brightest.

Patrick Fine (with GM) for Executive/Steering Committee


Admin End Note:

To be on the UAA contact list – if you aren’t already – go to About US and click on Membership…consider the membership criteria.  Submit the brief form used for the contact list and for vetting/authenticating in case we few volunteers don’t recognize your name. We don’t want to be at all ‘exclusive’ but need to be coherent as an association, including guarding entry onto the contact list and access to it.

To support UAA and access to the members-only section, $50 contributions are appreciated to help pay for UAA web space, webmaster and recurrent webware support, legal registration, and for preparing the 1st annual meeting in November ’09 to offer a couple of colloquia, ratify UAA Articles and By-laws and elect officers, and enjoy good company.

The Members section includes the contact list (as of March ’09, in .pdf) for over 600 alumni, contact info for UAA Organizers, survey results, Articles & By-Laws, and a few other items. Contact membership@usaidalumni.org for log-in username and password, and indicate that you have contributed or intend to do so this year.

There still are numerous problems in the contact database, including the fact that we’re not yet able to keep up with all the on-line registrations, vetting, and personal communications regarding address changes and the like.  Also, aside from the fact that we have info on only about 640 of a total potential of perhaps 10,000, roughly one in twelve e-addresses produce “undeliverable” bounce-backs – in some cases these were mis-transcribed or indecipherable at the time of the initial RRB meeting last September. Some people have changed email addresses since we began compiling lists over 18 months ago.  We’re slowly tracking down and correcting info.  Alas, a few are no longer nor ever again will be on-line…

Patience, please…volunteer work is…well, limited – but maybe we can build it up with the Annual Meeting in November.

Hearty thanks to the Society for International Development/Washington for hosting UAA’s organizing phase since Jan ’09 as a SID-W Working Group. SID-W cannot do so after registration in June as an independent association and by dent of UAA’s commitment to engaging in some public policy advocacy – precluded by SID’s Charter.

And hearty thanks to DACOR (Diplomats and Consular Officers, Retired) for generously  providing UAA’s legally-required, physical mail address in the District of Columbia and for co-hosting the Development Dialogue luncheon series with UAA – much appreciated.

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