December 2011 Newsletter

 

USAID Alumni Association
December 2011
New at USAIDALUMNI.org
Missed the AGM? At USAIDALUMNI.org you can find videos of the main presentations, summaries of the results of the committee breakout groups and the results of the election for new Board Members.In the 50th Anniversary Section, view the excellent presentations made by Vice President Joe Biden and Caroline Kennedy as well as the Agency’s 50th Anniversary video.

There are several new entries awaiting you in Articles and Links for Development Professionals. New articles discuss such topics as American Exceptionalism (from Foreign Policy), the dollar value return on USAID programs (from Politico.com), Bill Gate’s Plan to Assist the World’s Poor (Washington Post), and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

Finally, in the Forum, you can take the News IQ Quiz from Pew Research.

Alumni Profile: Paula Feeney
Paula Feeney at Singapore's Botanical Gardens

Paula Feeney served in USAID for 27 years, including eight years in the Senior Foreign Service. Her long term overseas assignments included Georgia (regional office for the Caucasus), Kazakhstan (regional office for Central Asia), the U.S. Mission in Geneva, Barbados (regional office for the Caribbean), and Nicaragua. In Washington, she directed the Office of European Country Affairs and before that the Health Office in LAC.Since leaving USAID in 2003, Paula continues working full time in the international development arena at Cardno Emerging Markets USA, focusing on business development in the infrastructure and environment, health, governance and economic growth sectors. However, she does take time these days to smell the flowers, for example pictured here at Singapore’s Botanical Gardens with its most wonderful collection of orchids. Her children, Alison and Will, are undergraduates at William and Mary and the University of Virginia.

UAA Membership Survey Results 
There were 75 respondents to the UAA Survey, which was sent out to 680 alumni in September of this year. The full survey results and summary power point presentation can be found on the UAA website. Briefly, nearly all of the respondents agreed that an important function of the alumni association is to facilitate keeping in touch with friends and colleagues. Development issues of most interest included:

  1. USAID policies and internal reforms, including staff and systems rebuilding and management, and policy development;
  2. addressing USAID’s relationships with State and DOD, as well as their respective roles and responsibilities;
  3. facilitating networking among former colleagues, including facilitating the development of regional UAA chapters; and
  4. concern about relevance of UAA for members (and/or potential members) outside the Washington area.

The communication and events, development issues, and strengthening USAID committees will review these and other suggestions noted by survey respondents.

Survey respondents noted that the Directory was one of the most helpful aspects of the UAA website, along with information on development and foreign aid, and tributes and obituaries.  It is important that alumni check their listings and update any changes to their contact information.  With regard to the current $75 annual membership contribution, about two-thirds of the respondents thought that contribution was about right; among non-members, about two-thirds noted that $35 would make them more likely to make an annual contribution, and one-third suggested a $50 contribution.  The membership and finance committees will follow up with further discussion about the annual membership contribution level.

While two-thirds of respondents said they would be interested in UAA-organized social events in their region, the vote was split on whether respondents would be willing to participate in a regional chapter of the UAA, and nearly three-quarters said they would be unwilling to organize regional meeting(s).  The Speakers Bureau and website Forum may facilitate the participation of alumni outside the beltway — other ideas on how to better reach and involve far-flung members will continue to be discussed by the membership and public outreach committees.

The UAA Committees at Work 

An exciting feature of the AGM in October was open committee meetings for 5 UAA committees.  The following brief summaries of the discussions will give you a sense of the scope and interests of each committee.  We hope this will whet your appetite and you will find one or more committee that you would like to join.

Public Outreach Open Committee discussion

The Public Outreach Committee meeting focused on new opportunities to tap the expertise of the USAID Alumni community to inform various audiences and communities around the US about the importance of global development to the US, and the role that the US is playing to promote development around the world.  The group also reviewed the experience with the Speakers Bureau to date, concluding that more work was needed to stimulate demand for alumni speakers. The group spoke of reaching out to retirement communities, continuing education programs, Rotary Clubs, and other organizations (eg the Fulbright  Association, AARP, Peace Corps) that have speakers bureaus. There was agreement that establishing a mechanism to share our speeches, power-points, pictures and syllabi would be useful, and that establishing a Facebook page for the Committee could facilitate communications going forward. There was agreement that the Committee, and the UAA more generally, should once again seek grant funding to cover the costs of some of its Committees’ work, and that the committee could do more to get articles about the UAA placed in a variety of publications. For more information or to join this committee, contactoutreach@usaidalumni.org.

Strengthening USAID Open Committee Discussion

The Strengthening USAID Open Committee discussion at the Annual General Meeting centered on crafting an understanding as to Agency counterparts and modus operandi for cooperation.  It was agreed that overall alumni support to the Agency might be discussed with Bambi Arellano, Counselor to the Agency; Deborah Kennedy, HR; and Frank Young, the new DLI Coordinator.  It was suggested that our approach to reaching DLIs might be best accomplished through organizing alumni by backstop, and linking them with the DLI coaches for those backstops.  (The committee now has a list of the DLI coaches and their coordinates.)  “Brownbag” sessions, for example, could be arranged by backstop, and target a specific subset of DLIs and other new USAID staff.  Another suggestion was that we could set up experiential panels on topics of interest to DLIs and other new staff, such as dual foreign service careers, family issues and single life overseas. Finally, it was suggested that alumni could share views of USAID from the outside — dealing with USAID from a contractor, NGO and/or university perspective — implications for being a CTO. For more information or to join this committee, contact pmandel@usaidalumni.org.

Development Issues Open Committee Discussion

The Development Issues Committee discussion at the AGM focused on the role of the Committee in providing a means to keep UAA members informed of new trends and ideas in development policy and practice and also to facilitate the participation by UAA members in USAID deliberations on new development policies and their implementation where the experience of practitioners might be helpful. Particular examples in which interest was expressed included evaluation policies and guidance, the formulation by USAID/PPL of new Agency policies on a variety of sectoral themes, and roundtables in priority fields such as agriculture and health. The Forum established on the UAA website offers a venue for participation by UAA members in dialogue on development issues.

The Committee Co-Chairs and Liaison met on November 15 and reviewed the thoughts expressed in the AGM meeting. They concluded that next steps should be to consult with USAID leadership to identify a few policy areas where interaction with experienced UAA members is perceived in USAID to be of potential value to the Agency. The goal should be to select a small number of areas, perhaps two or three, on which to concentrate initial efforts. We foresee asking for volunteers to participate in working groups to provide a variety of perspectives on draft policies, practices and procedures. We also intend to focus Development Dialogue sessions with DACOR on relevant topics, explore the creation of  continuing study groups on themes of strong interest jointly with DACOR, enter links to relevant materials and research sources on our website. and encourage discussion of issues on the UAA Forum website among UAA members. For more information or to join this committee, contactcfarrar@usaidalumni.org.

Membership Services Open Committee Discussion

The Membership Committee focused on the need to grow the Association, especially the contributing membership. To achieve this goal we need to re-align the incentives for joining the Association — to expand offerings and benefits to those who contribute. Currently the opportunity to vote in the annual election for the Board is open only to those who are contributing members. We would like to broaden the benefits offered to those who have made a membership contribution.
The Committee also hopes to attract more members to the Association membership who reside outside the Washington DC metropolitan area, and build membership through “regional” alumni gatherings, both domestically and overseas. The UAA Newsletter could be used to publicize and encourage such expansion. There are popular geographic centers for retirees, “country of service” groups as well as countries where there are large number of USAID FSNs where there is potential for attracting members. For more information or to join this committee, contact membership@usaidalumni.org.

Communications and Events Open Committee Discussion

The Committee discussion recommended: 1) more overt and active alliances with other foreign affairs associations reflected in both the UAA newsletters and website to further networking and mutual reinforcements – eg, boost development issues within AFSA’s events and organization perhaps working within AFSA’s Annual Foreign Service Day event and place a UAA volunteer at AFSA; 2) intensify ‘social’ networking via newsletter and website information and events (eg, Winter and Spring Socials); 3) increase the frequency and regularize dates of Development Dialogues at DACOR and focus on a few key development sector and technical subject areas intended to converge better with USAID’s policy framework and priorities (eg, ‘science & technology’, promoting participation by active duty officers); and 4) experiment with hosting events for active duty officers (eg, as DACOR does for STATE A-100 classes, and officers on out-bound assignments). For more information or to join this committee, contact events@usaidalumni.org.

 

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