Scholars from over seven nations around the world spent nearly a week in the State of Arizona, learning from high level professionals about management of non-governmental organizations or NGOs. NGOs are created by active citizens in the community and are normally funded by governments, foundations, businesses or private entities. Many NGOs are ran by volunteers and coalitions leading a specific cause.
One of the first meetings of the Multi-Regional IVLP was with Ms. Julia Patrick, Founder of Arizona Nonprofit Academy. The Arizona Nonprofit Academy is a public social enterprise providing education to non-profits and their partners. In her meeting with the multi-regional group, Julia addressed the importance of bringing together practitioners to develop best practices and identified challenges and opportunities facing the non-profit community as a whole. She discussed the time and organization is takes to develop successful practices for nonprofit organizations and methods proven to work for various organizations leading change in their communities.
In a meeting with the Senior Professional-in-Residence of ACFRE, Ms. Pat Lewis provided information on a University based program designed to educate non-profit practitioners and increase the impact of non-profit work in the community. Pat brings a depth of nonprofit/NGO experience in the U.S. and globally to educate and strengthen nonprofit leaders in the Arizona State University community and the Londestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit. Our multi-regional group developed a series of questions throughout this discussion facilitated by Pat, to better their understanding of the work of ACFRE and how their individual organizations could adopt similar procedures for the NGOs operating in their respective nations.
The multi-regional IVLP met for over four hours with the City of Scottsdale’s Community Services Department to discuss the many operations of nonprofit management and education at the Vista Del Camino Community Center in Southern Scottsdale. The Director of Human Services, Greg Bestgen led the initial conversation with an overview of the different organizations and partner groups the center works with. Eugene Munoz, Manager and Michele Albanese, Manager Community Assistance Office,provided in depth information on the functioning of this city agency, the value the city places on its cooperation with non-profit organizations to provide essential services, and how funds are managed and awarded in a transparent fashion.
During this meeting with the Scottsdale Community Services’ Department, a member of the multi-regional IVLP group provided insight on the effectiveness of measuring the success of each program the department sponsors. She detailed a situation in her home state where an NGO working to protect victims of domestic violence from their partner was not effective in keeping the victim safe. The organization found that because spouses were retreating to shelters or places of refuge, abusers would target the shelter to find their victim again. These findings were a result of a research study conducted to find whether or not domestic violence was decreasing with couples who became separated with the help of an outside group. Greg Bestgen and other members of the Community Service Department found this may be something they needed to look further into, but would have to happen over time. Again, we see an exchange of similar experiences as both groups benefit from a conversation of global perspective and raise awareness.
The multi-regional group also met with the Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, Kristin Merrifield. During this meeting, our multi-regional IVLP learned about the organization’s public policy and advocacy programs, the restrictions placed on non-profits when interacting with government, ways in which non-profits can band together to advocate for policies favorable to their work, and best practices in advocacy and public policy efforts.
One of the last meeting’s for the Multi-Regional IVLP was with the President of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership AZ, Mr. Phil Alibrandi. The mission of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership AZ or HOBY is to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation. Mr. Alibrandi provided information covering the work of HOBY and the communication and outreach strategies that they have found successful for connecting with youth, their families, and other stakeholders.
While the multi-regional group here to study NGO Management in the U.S. were fascinated by the inner workings of NGO directives, this group also had the opportunity to experience unique cultural exchanges in the Valley of the Sun. One such experience was with Global Ties member, Ms. Wendy Anderton. Wendy hosted the multi-regional group at her home in Phoenix for an evening of food, drinks and conversation. An experience many of our international visitors enjoy, our home hospitality arrangements provide an experience outside of the office and in-depth understanding about U.S. customs. Wendy prepared homemade Mexican food and peach ice cream for the group to enjoy. The evening was full of fun and excitement.
In addition to the home hospitality dinner with Ms. Anderton, this group also took a day trip to Sedona. The group visited the prehistoric Indian ruin, Montezuma’s Castle and explored the visitor’s center with its excavated treasurers of the Sinagua people. They also enjoyed Sedona’s red rock formations, the spectacular Chapel of the Holy Cross, shopping and more sightseeing.
The multi-regional group also participated in a volunteer activity with the Andre House of Arizona. At the Andre House Hospitality Center, our multi-regional group were instrumental in the execution of Andre House’s volunteer dinner service by cutting and preparing food for guests at the Center. An experience not commonly made available to our IVLPs, the Andre House of Arizona allowed this group to have a first-hand account of the time, effort and organization it takes to execute an effective community service project. This provided a great experience for our visitors from around the world to participate in together.
Overall, the scholars from Trinidad & Tobago, Liberia, Isreal, The Gambia, Russia, Mexico, Pakistan and Chile developed a keen understanding from non-governmental organizational management in the United States. The goal of this program was for these scholars to take back with themnewfound knowledge to strengthen the NGOs they currently work with. Whether it be domestic violence, homeless relief or food banks, professional exchanges by these NGOs promote wellness and alleviation of serious issues facing the general public.