Objective 1: Building an Inclusive Community of Former USAID Staff
The Membership Committee expanded the number of registrants and contributing members. This year, UAA registrants increased by 4% to 1,248 and contributing members increased by 5% to 399. This increase is due to multiple factors, including recruitment efforts with (i) USAID employees at two FSI Job Search/Transition Programs, resulting in eight new members; (ii) USAID retirees at the April 7th USAID Retirement Ceremony, resulting in six new members; and (iii) Afghan FSNs evacuated to the United States, resulting in both new members and registrants. MemCom is now coordinating with the DACOR on UAA co-sponsoring an autumn ‘USAID at DACOR Day’ to encourage UAA as well as DACOR membership.
Diversity in the monthly Alumni Profiles improved. Of 8 people recognized this year, there was gender equality, 1 was of minority ethnicity, and 3 were FSNs; we will focus on improving GS alumni recognition next year. Diversity in the Awards Program, in terms of gender and employment category, was also good. This year, two female members have been selected for the UAA Alumni of the Year award, whereas last year, two male members were chosen for the awards.
Action to improve the ratio of contributors to registrants continued throughout 2022 by reminding registrants of the benefits of contributor membership and encouraging attendance at the annual social events, including Winterfest (hybrid: 64 attendance, including 39 in person and 25 virtual members/guests from 8 States & DC); Spring Reception (hybrid: 68 attendance, including 49 in person and 19 virtual members/guests from 9 States, DC, & 2 foreign countries); Summer Picnic (no WiFi access: 69 attendance, including 69 in person only members/guests).
The Public Outreach Committee’s focus is to increase UAA presence outside the DC Metropolitan area. This year, the Committee successfully completed a Charter for the Committee on Regional Activities, approved by the Board in March. Target regions for establishing pilot Regional Chapters were adjusted: Florida and New England chapters are underway; we’re exploring setting up a chapter in New Mexico instead of the Midwest where there is an insufficient number of alumni to support a chapter; and we’re in discussion with a leader for a chapter in California. The Committee developed material for use in a “speakers kit” by UAA members to reach out to corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and academic groups concerning USAID. The Committee is currently undergoing staff changes – volunteers are welcome! At AFSA’s request, a member gave a series of talks to an NGO, Road Scholars, from 25 states on USAID and U.S. foreign assistance. Lastly, the Committee is also organizing and moderating a panel discussion at the AGM on “Partnerships for Public Education on Foreign Assistance.”
The AGM Committee reviewed 2021 feedback for guidance on planning the 2022 AGM. Among the findings were that sessions need to be more interactive using dialogue or debate format rather than long, complex panel discussions with speakers. Respondents strongly favored having an in-person meeting, with the capability for remote participation as well. Planning for the 2022 agenda is well underway for a hybrid AGM with the in-person meeting at the Center for Global Development (CGD) on October 28, 2022. The agenda includes keynote address by USAID Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen; UAA special Lifetime Achievement Recognition for former Administrator Peter McPherson; two sessions on USAID’s new “localization” policy; presentation by UAA Co-Chairs on the UAA 2022 progress report; a session on Public Outreach through UAA regional chapters; and announcement and presentation of the UAA Alumni of the Year awards.
Objective 2: Supporting USAID Professional Development and Institutional Capacity
The USAID/UAA Mentoring Program contributes to the development of Agency leaders by providing overseas Foreign Service Officers (mentees) with leadership, management, and career guidance from experienced USAID Alumni, who serve as mentors. In Cohort 11, the program had partnering arrangements with all five regional Bureaus, the SLG, PPL, and GH. The Program reached out to the Payne Fellowship Network so that they were aware of the opportunity to participate. As always, the Program operated in close partnership with USAID through coordinators in HCTM.
Since its inception, the UAA program is estimated to have provided mentoring to approximately 335 USAID FSOs. Over 65 mentor/mentee pairs were matched in Cohort 11, which ran from Jan – June 2022. Training for mentors and mentees was provided as the cohort began.
This popular program is now recognized by USAID leadership as a valuable Agency-wide resource for FS officers posted overseas.
Following a suggestion at a Development Issues Committee discussion with USAID’s PPL Bureau in 2020 the UAA and PPL began exploring possibilities for UAA members to provide counsel and “coaching” on a voluntary basis to Missions and PPL units throughout the Program Cycle, beginning with the CDCS process. In 2021 the UAA solicited interest from members in participating in such an effort and a list of 23 UAA volunteers was established and shared with PPL. PPL simultaneously solicited interest from Missions in establishing such a “coaching” relationship with UAA volunteers. A proposed “pilot effort” to launch a coaching relationship between the Timor Leste Mission and a UAA volunteer was suspended pending necessary revisions to the “Gratuitous Services Agreement” to be negotiated between the UAA and USAID. The UAA will nonetheless continue to discuss the viability of this initiative depending on the interest of USAID.
Objective 3: Increasing Understanding of and Support for International Development
Development Issues Discussions: During 2022 the Development Issues Committee sponsored seven 1 ½ hour virtual discussions on Zoom on topics of interest to contributing UAA members. Topics included the Northern Triangle, Climate Change, Localization, Public-Private Partnerships, COVID-19 and Health Systems, Food Security and the New Africa Strategy. Each discussion was led by 2-3 outside “guest” specialists, usually including a current or former USAID staffer and specialists from the NGO or private sector communities. Going “virtual” allowed UAA members outside the DC area to participate. The discussions attracted between 30 and 50 contributing members, depending on the topic. There was no budget cost to the UAA.
UAA Book Club Reviews, September 2021 to June 2022
- World Bank Task Force on Higher Education and Society, Higher Education in Developing Countries, Peril and Promise, 2000, reviewed on Zoom by Joe Ryan in Sept. (8 people).
- The New Yorker, “New Economics Curriculum” and The Economist, “Instant Economics–The Real-Time Revolution” in economic analysis were reviewed on Zoom by Tony Chan with help from Jerre Manarolla in Nov. (12 people).
- John Norris, The Enduring Struggle: The History of the Agency for International Development and America’s Uneasy Transformation of the World, 2021, was reviewed on Zoom by Alex Shakow and the author, John Norris, in Dec. (24 people).
- Manual Hinds, Playing Monopoly with the Devil: Dollarization and Domestic Currencies in Developing Countries, was reviewed on Zoom by Joe Ryan on March (7 people).
Copies of the reviews are available on the Book Club Reviews section of the UAA website.
Development Dialogues at DACOR: UAA and DACOR have collaborated on hosting a series of presentations at the DACOR-Bacon House on issues of interest to both UAA and DACOR members. Due to COVID, sessions were held virtually. In the first five months of 2022, five DDDs were scheduled. Due to the advantages of the virtual link, these DDDs the virtual and hybrid sessions consistently attract 100+ attendees and stimulate considerable audience participation. The challenge is to find interesting speakers who will also be of great interest to the audience. About ten speakers were planned for 2022, about the same number who have appeared in recent years. There is no budget cost to the UAA.
History of USAID: It was a major UAA accomplishment that we raised funds from our members to engage a talented author (John Norris) for this independent history of USAID, to assist the author as he was doing his research, and to help ensure that this book was published by a well-known commercial publisher. We made copies of the book (The Enduring Struggle – The History of the U.S. Agency for International Development and America’s Uneasy Transformation of the World) available to key USAID offices, 16 Payne Fellows, key Congressional staff, major university international development programs, and selected influential individuals. We worked with the publisher and the author to promote reviews and greater interest in the book and are encouraging the publisher and USAID to smooth the path for large numbers of AID staff – particularly recent hires – to have access to copies of the book. We sent 21 copies to the major Historically Black Colleges and Universities in hope of increasing interest in USAID.
Oral History Project with ADST: UAA has helped arrange two grants from USAID to ADST to permit ADST to cover its costs associated with increasing the number of oral histories of USAID retirees – FSOs, FSNs and GS staff. These retirees reflect as much as possible the diversity of AID staff. Five UAA volunteers are interviewing in collaboration with ADST. Once edited by the interviewees, the transcripts of the four-to-eight-hour interviews are made available on the ADST and Library of Congress websites. At least 25 interviews will be completed each year during the three-year life of the USAID-ADST grant. There is no budget cost to the UAA.
Objective 4: Organizing and Sustaining UAA’s Structure and Operations
IRS 501c3 status maintained: 2021 IRS forms 1099 issued and mailed to IRS and payees by deadline and 2021 IRS form 990 information return submitted by deadline.
Annual Operating Budget approved at January EC meeting and updates approved 3/3, 4/5, and 6/16. Budget for History Project added to budget approved on 6/16. Budget and Finance Reports issued in advance of each EC meeting. Current budget is posted on executive section of the website.
Nominating Committee formed and slate developed for 2022 election. Reports to Board described how continuity and diversity considerations informed the development of the slate. Committee Roles and Responsibilities codified and posted on Executive Committee portion of website. Abbreviated version listing current committees posted on public portion of website.
Updated contract developed and signed in August with Systems Manager. (This position replaced the Administrative Assistant position.)
Parameters for follow-on contract with Web Consultant approved by Board.
List of UAA Practices and Procedures to codify approved by Board, and Core Processes developed, approved, and posted to the Executive Committee portion of the website for: What Needs Board Approval; Dues Payment; Personal Services Contracts; Nominations and Elections; and Reporting, Planning and Budgeting.
Bylaws changes approved to clarify that any Board member may be the alternate disburser of funds; allow the Board to appoint non-Board members as Treasurer and/or Secretary of the Association; and reflect a more flexible committee structure.
Executive Committee Minutes are routinely posted to the public section of the website. Executive Calendar is in active use.
A Working Group examined existing website and member database software, considered alternatives, and determined to retain existing software, but to add Survey Monkey.