January 2013 Minutes

UAA Executive Committee Meeting
Thursday, January 17, 2013
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
TetraTech Office
Arlington, VA
Board Members Attending: Frank Almaguer, Margaret Carpenter, David Cohen, George Hill, Jim Michel, Nancy Pielemeier and Alex Shakow

Committee Co-Chairs Attending: Curt Farrar, Paula Goddard, Ann Van Dusen and Jerry Wood

Committee Co-Chairs Absent: Larry Smucker and Nancy Tumavick

Executive Assistant: Kristina Short

Meeting Chair: Nancy Pielemeier

Also in attendance: Sean McKee, UAA Webmaster

1. Review and approval of the December Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: The December 20, 2012 minutes were approved to be posted on the UAA website with minor revisions.

2. Report from the January 10 meeting with senior USAID officials:

  • UAA Board Members David Cohen, Jim Michel, Nancy Pielemeier and Alex Shakow delivered an oral report on their January 10, 2013 meeting with USAID Counselor David Eckerson and Assistant to the Administrator for PPC Susan Reichle to discuss UAA-USAID engagement.
  • Eckerson committed to identify contact points within USAID for relevant UAA Committee activities. This will permit UAA Committee co-chairs and members to engage more systematically with USAID staff on issues of common interest.

The participants also discussed the work of the UAA’s Strengthening USAID and Development Issues Committees, including:

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program for Russia FSNs: USAID is aware that the UAA is available to assist USAID/Russia FSNs who may be coming to the US in the near future under the SIV program. The level of participation on the part of the UAA will be the subject of further discussion with USAID and within the Strengthening USAID Committee. UAA will focus principally on matching these FSNs with USAID alumni who can serve as mentors and facilitators as these new arrivals settle in the US. The program is likely to resemble “sponsorship programs” most USAID missions organize to assist newcomers settle into their new community.

Collaboration on development issues: PPL and other USAID bureaus and offices have recognized the potential for USAID alumni to share, through the UAA, their experience with USAID technical offices. While the immediate focus of this effort is on urban affairs, both USAID and UAA anticipate significant interest in the coming months for alumni expertise across several other areas.

Avoiding conflicts of interest: Increased USAID/UAA collaboration will require continued vigilance on avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest among alumni participants. All Executive Committee members were asked to review the UAA Conflict of Interest policy and sign it if they have not done so already. Alumni who engage in UAA/USAID initiatives need to be advised of relevant USAID policies and practices (as is the case of the current USAID/E&E – UAA pilot mentoring project).

3. Membership Issues:

a. Feedback from follow-up with alumni who contributed in 2011 but not 2012:

Several alumni emphasized the need for a more systematic approach to UAA membership and annual contributions. E-mail messages need to go out to the entire UAA distribution list reminding everyone to make their 2013 contributions now.

Several alumni suggested that contribution reminders be included in each Newsletter, with clear instructions on how to make contributions online through the UAA website or via check. All messages should thank those who have already made their contribution and encourage others to do so as early as possible.

The UAA will seek to ensure that all registered USAID alumni understand that membership contributions are for the calendar year. Contribution acknowledgments and UAA receipts will indicate the calendar year for which the contribution is being credited.

The Executive Committee will encourage registered alumni to reach out through their networks to expand both the number of registered alumni and the number of contributing members.

Next Steps: Margaret Carpenter will draft language for a 2013 contribution announcement to be distributed via e-mail to all registered alumni, as well as included in the next Newsletter.

b. Feedback from follow-up contact with alumni who attended the 2011 AGM and not in 2012:

The most often cited reason for not attending the Annual General Meeting was alumni being out of town. Only a few alumni expressed negative reasons for not attending. On the contrary, most indicated a desire to participate, subject to other professional and personal demands on their time.

The ad hoc AGM committee will take into account suggestions as they draw up plans for the 2013 AGM.

c. Alumni registration and contributions for December and January: In the period from December 21, 2012 to January 15, 2013, the UAA gained two new registered alumni. During the same period, 25 alumni made their 2013 membership contributions: 8 in December and 17 in January. The total of registered alumni was 739 and the total of contributing members for 2013 was 27 as of January 15, 2013.

d. FSN networking: The next Membership Committee meeting will include FSNs, which may allow for the development of future networks for FSN-to-FSN contact, as well as FSN-to-US alumni connections.

e. Expanding outreach to other eligible alumni: See item 8 below and the Attachment.

4. Public Outreach:

a. Response from the Membership Survey: The January survey received 68 responses, 44 of which included written comments. Respondents provide feedback regarding current UAA activities and what areas they would like for the UAA Executive Committee to emphasize, including:

  • Promote membership growth outside the Washington, DC area;
  • Additional opportunities and means to connect with other alumni and to keep abreast of staff movements within USAID;
  • More events, both social and substantive. Many alumni want to remain engaged on development issues, find opportunities to advocate for USAID programs, and be made aware of short-term consulting opportunities, in addition to remaining in contact with former colleagues;
  • Reach out to younger alumni and bring more of them into the UAA;
  • Reach out more proactively to retired FSNs and to US alumni from program support areas (e.g., administrative, contracts, finance, legal, etc.);
  • Similarly, reach out to those who left USAID as mid-level employees. Some see the current UAA Executive Committee make-up as being “top heavy” with those who occupied the most senior positions at USAID;
  • Most agree that UAA plays a dual role as a social networking and as a development/USAID-advocacy organization.

b. Public Outreach co-chair candidate(s): No progress to-date in identifying candidates.

c. Alumni participation in public outreach activities: Approximately 12 alumni have expressed interest in joining the Public Outreach Committee and participating in its activities. David Eckerson and Susan Reichle will share within USAID the interest on the part of the UAA in providing alumni opportunities for speaking and advocacy engagements.

d. Outreach activities and groups: Potential collaborating organizations, as laid out in the UAA Strategic Plan include: established foreign affairs groups (e.g., SID, WIFA, CGD, etc.), AFSA, Peace Corps, civic groups, etc. In addition, some alumni have suggested connecting with religious and other NGOs that carry out development and humanitarian work overseas.

Next Steps: Ann will draft a summary of responses to the survey to include on the website and in the next UAA Newsletter.

5. Development Issues:

Report on the January 15 Urban Development presentation at USAID:

The jointly sponsored UAA-USAID event at the USAID series on “Making Better Cities” garnered the largest attendance in that series to-date (50 people + 10 via webinar) and a varied audience, including younger USAID staff members, Woodrow Wilson Center, State Department and World Bank staff and retirees. Presenters included USAID alumni Eric Chetwynd and Chuck Billand, who discussed their urban development experience with USAID over the last 30-40 years.

  • The Executive Committee would like to highlight the collaboration between the UAA and the USAID Urban Program as an excellent example of what a dynamic UAA volunteer (Owen Cylke) who is willing to put a great deal of effort into a project can accomplish. This collaboration may serve as a model for future endeavors in other areas (e.g., water, food security, child survival, energy and infrastructure).
  • Owen Cylke has developed a plan for a series of workshops or other events on urbanization and related topics (environment, finances, etc.).

Next Steps: The committee will ask Owen to draft an article for the next Newsletter.

6. Strengthening USAID issues:

a. Mentoring Agreement implementation: Committee co-chair Jerry Wood updated the Executive Committee on progress made regarding the E&E Bureau/UAA Mentoring Pilot Project. USAID has maintained interest and has taken follow-up actions in implementing the Agreement. Ann Patterson serves as USAID’s liaison with the UAA for this project and has promoted the project during recent visits to missions in the E&E region.

  • A group of 11 mentor/mentee pairs are now in place for the pilot mentoring program, meeting the original goal of 10-15 pairs. These pairings represent five E&E missions. The first pilot will conclude at the end of May (~4-month pilot period).
  • The Committee is working with USAID on an evaluation process and David Cohen has developed a logframe for the next 4 months, with milestones that can be tracked.
  • A teleconference will link the five missions with Andrew Maybrook and Ann Patterson for the orientation of mentees in the field. On January 26, there will be a 6-hour program organized by USAID for the mentors. The program will have several components: mentoring tools, cautions (do’s and don’ts), focus on current projects and issues and USAID expectations for this program. Skype will be the primary communication tool.
  • USAID is aiming for a launch of the program by the end of January 2013.

Items still under discussion include:

  • Increasing the representation of women among mentors (currently 2 of 11)
  • Possibility of some travel support to get mentors into the field (i.e., invitational travel), but funding is not currently available.

Next Steps: Jerry Wood will prepare a summary of the mentorship program to be included in the next Newsletter.

7. Establishment of 2013 AGM planning committee: Tabled for discussion during the February Executive Committee meeting.

8. Future of the UAA: See the attached questions from Margaret Carpenter and the Membership Committee, which served to guide the discussion.

The Executive Committee discussed several concerns raised by the Membership Committee, in addition to the feedback received from alumni responding to the January surveys. Items discussed included:

  • The current UAA Alumni Directory includes both active UAA participants and USAID alumni referred to UAA who have never confirmed their interest in remaining registered or participating. The Executive Committee and each of the four UAA standing committees should explore new ways to update contact information for the latter group so that we can encourage them to become active.
  • UAA must develop a comprehensive strategy for attracting new alumni and contributing members through marketing and advertising, as well as retaining existing members. Contacting these alumni personally may be the most productive tool for expanding membership and participation.
  • Given the diverse interests of registered alumni, the Executive Committee needs to continue offering a range of activities, including events that combine networking opportunities with discussions on development issues.
  • We should expand our alumni base by targeting recent retirees who are now working for consulting firms and NGOs around DC. In most cases, they are more recent USAID retirees. All ExecComm members should let the Membership Committee know which organizations they know well enough to reach out to their staff. Personal contact with individuals should stress that these individuals are eligible join the UAA.
  • We should also target retirees who have been in and out of USAID in recent years, including rehired annuitants, FSNs, PSCs, Fellows, etc., who also remain eligible for UAA membership.
  • “Frontlines” is going to include reference to the UAA website for the “Where Are They Now” column. “Frontlines” will also promote UAA involvement in USAID activities, such as the mentorship program and the recent urban event. USAID publicity should prove to be a valuable tool, especially among those who are in the process of retiring.
  • The UAA needs a vision statement – one line that can be put onto the website and shared in appropriate UAA and USAID settings.
  • The UAA Newsletter should routinely include blurbs about the UAA standing committees, including contact information and a summary of each committee’s mandate and recent activities.
  • The UAA needs a sustainable membership model that clearly highlights what benefits are received by contributing members, as opposed to non-contributing registered alumni.

Next Steps: Kristina will circulate the e-mail that is currently sent to newly registered alumni welcoming them to the organization for Executive Committee feedback and revisions.

9. Next Meeting: The February 21, 2013 Executive Committee meeting will be held from 10:30 – 12:30 PM at TetraTech in Arlington, VA.

10. Presentation by UAA Webmaster Sean McKee:
UAA Webmaster Sean McKee addressed Executive Committee members after the conclusion of the meeting and provided an overview of the UAA Website, its features, functions, and future possibilities.