Director Update

Work of the Center, Summer 2006

Hello Everyone,

The Center has had a busy few months. I want first to announce our national Mediation Process Training. It will be held in October 2-6, here in Minnesota. I am very excited to bring CDR mediation training to our staff and colleagues. It is one of our core competencies and I encourage you to join us. I have both received and provided scores of mediation training programs around the world, and the CDR training is the best I've seen. The discipline, individual coaching, and materials are exemplary. Bernie Mayer and I will co-train the seminar.

The fee for the training is well below what it generally costs when held at CDR's home in Boulder, Colorado; and Bernie and I will supplement the basic five-day training to include restorative justice, victim-offender mediation, and our own international experiences over the past several years. We have space for 35 participants. For more information: Mediation Process Training.

Update on Kenya Hunger Appeal
I thank all of you who have contributed to the Kenya Hunger Appeal. We were able to send over $4,000 to Kenya. We made personal deliveries of food, water, powdered milk, and other items specifically requested by our colleagues in Garissa. They tell us we were the first friends to respond to their appeal and the early delivery made a significant difference for them.

Subsequent international support has come, but the consequences of timing are significant as the drought continues and the aftermath of the devastating loss of food sources, animals, and health might take years to recover. International news stories continue to report that this area of the world still suffers from hunger and starvation at alarming rates and that it is receiving neither enough short-term aid nor the long-term investment it needs.

NGO Management Program at Western University
Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of Evans Mirieri of our staff, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Western University in June to start a four-year undergraduate program in nonprofit management. Western University is a public institution in the town of Kakamega, near Lake Victoria and the Uganda border. The University will work jointly with the Center to create and operate a new Center for NGO Management on the campus.

Soon we will be seeking colleagues to teach in the program. All instructors will be under contract to the Center but must meet Western University's minimum standards for adjunct instructors. Kenya laws on partnerships will guide the relationships between us and the University. If you are interested in teaching in Africa, have a masters degree in a related field, and have some experience in nonprofit or public administration we would like to hear from you. All courses will have a substantial action learning/practicum element.

Our purpose is to enhance the capacity of the sector through education, practice, and partnership. The pay scale is much lower in Africa than here, so we won't be able to pay instructors much in terms of salary. We plan, however, on providing an apartment and expenses for those who participate. Classes are scheduled to begin in January 2007.

New Clients and New Projects
We are pleased to welcome new clients this quarter. We've begun working with the International Women's Media Foundation and locally with the City of Minneapolis Planning Department, Northwest Youth and Family Services, the City of Roseville HRA and Union/Labor group. We continue our work with the Center for Neighborhoods who has a grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation to document the work we've done with them on the Corridor Housing Initiative. This project has won a Minnesota Planning Award and was a finalist in a National innovation in government award.

Just as rewarding is our work the Minneapolis Consortium for Community Developers, The United Way of Olmsted County, the LGBT Funders Network of the Minnesota Council of Foundations, and the Minnesota Women's Foundation. We also continue to support the development of a new alliance or merger of three national mediation/restorative justice groups, (NAFCM, VOMA, and PRASI), and the development of a local restorative justice program with the Somali Community in Partnership with LEAD, a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to build the capacity of African organizations in Minnesota.

New Team Members
The Center welcomes new associates on its team. Pat Clark will join us as a sub-contractor now and evolve to provide programmatic leadership by early 2007. Pat has just completed four years as the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She also headed the Klan Watch project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and launched the restorative justice program of the American Friends Service Committee. Jan Goodwin has also become a consulting associate. Jan has published two books on the Taliban in Afhganistan, is a humanitarian and award winning journalist, and currently serves as the international news coordinator for Marie Clarie Magazine.

In addition, Lacoutref Bibbs has joined the Center for administration support, and Michelle Mosner, a graduate student at the Humphrey Institute is coordinating our mediation training project. Another newcomer is Toren Hansen, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. He will help us finish our evaluation instrument for restorative justice programs as well as co-present the model at the International Institute for Restorative Justice Practices conference this fall.

Steve Cramer joins the Center team in the role of development support. Steve has his own development consulting business (Steve Cramer and Associates) and he has been providing services to one of our clients. His enthusiasm for the Center has led him to provide pro-bono research and advice for our own funding of various projects.

Center Web Site
The web site also makes weekly progress. Our colors now shine through, our main typeface is larger and darker, and new photographs are helping people put faces to names and places. Jeff of our staff is also working on enhanced elements so the site will become more interactive, allow for on-line donations, and more.

As always, we invite you to join us as a client, donor, board member, team member, or satellite partner. For more information, contact me.

URGENT APPEAL! Kenyan women and children need your help!

Dear friends, family members, colleagues, and clients of the Center:

I am writing with a request for your immediate action. Like southeast Asia and America's own Gulf Coast, Eastern Africa has been experiencing a wrenching natural disaster. In Kenya in particular, record drought has brought hunger, starvation, and death at a devastating level. As a result, we have received an urgent request from our friends in Garissa, Kenya, near the Somali and Ethiopian borders.

The staff of WomanKind Kenya, (a nonprofit organization committed to building economic capacity and ending abuse of women and girls), is watching dozens of women and children die of starvation daily. Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji and Sophia Adbi Noor, two co-founders, say, "If there was ever a time for our intervention and help it is now."

Many of the men have left the area in search of work and supplies to send back to their families. Unfortunately they are seldom successful and women and children abandoned in remote villages are now at death's door. International aid supplies are both limited and burdened by transportation and delivery hardships.

From its office in Nairobi, Kenya, the Center is facilitating an emergency collection from our colleagues and friends in the United States in order to buy food and to distribute it to the locations in Kenya where it is needed most. We don't use intermediaries or third parties to transport the food but instead have our own people on the ground distributing it directly. For this reason we can guarantee the food will reach those with the greatest need.

The money we normally spend on a single meal can make a great difference to the women and children of Kenya. So please send us your tax-deductible donation of $10, $25, $50, or $100 as soon as possible. The funds we collect will be wired to purchase and deliver food to starving women and children in the Ijara and Garissa districts of the North Eastern province of Kenya. The process has already begun and we have reports that the funds are reaching the areas of need. We will continue wiring money until mid spring.

Time is critical, so please do what you can. In addition to sending an amount today we ask also that you make a pledge to donate over the next three months. This is about saving lives and even the smallest donation can make an important difference so that others can live. Please forward this request to your entire network of board members, friends, and family.

Thank you so much.

Mail your donation to:

CPPP - Kenya Hunger
2233 University Avenue West
Suite 300
St. Paul, MN 55114

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Minnesota office at 612-874-0535 or call our Kenya office directly at 011-254-721-662-496.

The Center does not perform this work alone. In addition to Womankind Kenya, we co-operate and coordinate with a number of organizations which share our mission and which engage the people most impacted by a project. To that end, we support the work of The Generation for Change and Growth, an NGO working to meet the needs of people in Northern Kenya.

Thank you again for your help! It's making a difference, as Evans Mirieri reports in his first article on the progress of this initiative.

Barbara, 1 Februrary 2006

Related articles of interest:

Kenyan family's cry: 'God has cursed us'

Starving animals die from overeating

How Far We Have Come

Dear friends and colleagues:

It has been a year and a three quarters since we moved to new offices in St. Paul. They are a better fit for us and provide more like-minded neighbors in the nonprofit community. In that time we have hired new staff members and contracted with new trainers and consultants. I'm happy to report that these changes have significantly reduced our costs as they have also increased the breadth of our capacity and the cultural diversity of our internal community. From these changes comes the opportunity for many new and creative ideas for service and programs. I detail a few of them below.

The Center has continues its commitment to our Kenya office. This will pay off in the form of two Fulbright scholarships, a contract with the Ministry of Justice to conduct restorative justice training, and the first NGO Diploma program in East Africa with Kenyatta University. We are crossing our fingers for an October launch date.

We are seeking volunteers to be a part of the network of US professors with expertise in nonprofit management to travel to Kenya and co-teach a course with a leader in a Kenya-based NGO. In this way we will build the capacity of the NGO sector in Kenya and other East African countries as well as build our own cultural competence and international perspective which we can bring back to students and colleagues in the United States.

New Minnesota Programs
With the support of the Bremer Foundation and the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation we have begun working on a new training program called African Workers and Employers as Partners. This program for African immigrant and/or refugee workers and their employers explores cultural barriers and solutions for creating a respectful and productive work environment that benefits from its diversity.

We have consulted with several employees and employers and have field tested a training module with sixteen people from various African countries who are now living in the United States. The series will be offered publicly later this year. Consulting directly with employers on organization development, personnel policies, and conflict resolution are also part of this program.

A second new initiative is African Women in Business funded by the Minneapolis Foundation. The project will provide twenty-five women entrepreneurs in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis with training, coaching, and peer support over a six-month period. A long range goal is to build a network of successful African business women who can contribute to and influence the larger business community.

Services to Local, National, and International Clients
Nationally we've been able to continue our work with clients who have been making active statements for peace and social justice externally while working internally on issues of racism, systemic oppression, planning, and governance. We continue our work also with progressive faith-based organizations; and in this regard we are working toward a long-term partnership with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in a shared mission of peace-building and active nonviolence.

We continue to strengthen our partnership with the Victim Offender Mediation Association (VOMA) as it supports and advances the practice and principles of restorative justice. Our work with VOMA has introduced us to individual change agents in Romania where we have recently filed papers to incorporate a new NGO to serve as our Center-Romania initiative.

In addition, the Center has launched its own new national program to provide direct restorative mediation services and training. To this end, Linda Harvey has joined the Center to lead the Restorative Justice Council on Sexual Misconduct in Faith Communities. We have met with leaders from many denominations and faith perspectives who are seeking ways to find both justice and healing processes for victims and communities impacted by these events.

Strong relationships continue in Minnesota with the Partnership of African Communities and LEAD (an organization committed to capacity building for African Organizations). We have joint proposals pending with LEAD and we have invited each other to training and community events. We a long term relationship of understanding that brings our mutual strengths to a common vision.

With the Center for Neighborhoods (and a grant to them from the Bush Foundation) we have developed an evaluation tool for assessing the effectiveness of restorative justice programs. This project helps us stay connected to the field of restorative justice and builds on our consulting work with counties in an effort to provide engagement processes that galvanize support for building alternatives to incarceration and the expansion of secure jails.

We also continue to work with the Center for Neighborhoods, the Metropolitan Design Center, Central Community Housing Trust, and the Family Housing Fund to support the Corridor Housing Initiative. It is a model of city/developer/neighborhood dialogue and planning to bring — with less conflict and greater positive participation — affordable housing to communities where density is both appropriate and feasible.

Ongoing Consulting and Training Clients
In Minnesota we have provided services to over thirty-five nonprofit and government organizations in the last twelve months. Whether we serve libraries, city and county government, or nonprofit organizations providing food shelves, head start, emergency shelter, and other important services, our work continues to be about citizen-based leadership, equality of access and outcomes, and strengthening of community groups to better serve their constituents.

Ready for Help
If you are interested in becoming part of our consulting and training network, teaching in the NGO program in Kenya, volunteering on our board or staff, learning more about any of our programs and services, or becoming a donor for our work, please contact us.

You can visit the web sites of the organizations I mention above by going to the Center Library Links Page.