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A Word from the President

October 24, 2007

Creating Collaborative Networks with International Exchanges

Dennis W. Felty
Dennis W. Felty
President, KHS

Whether between individuals, agencies, organizations or even nations, relationships are truly at the root of the services we provide. Keystone's recent participation in the Open World Program illustrates one way we are working to forge professional relationships in the global sphere – and how we can begin to take steps toward an integrated, international nonprofit sector.

A professional exchange program between the United States and the countries of Eurasia and the Baltic States, the Open World Program emphasizes hands-on, community-based collaborations, making it an ideal avenue for KHS's international outreach. Through a professional exchange grant from the Open World Leadership Center, Keystone was able to host eight human services leaders from Russia, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia for a week of conversation and mutual learning in the areas of healthcare provision, elementary and secondary education and social services.

Along with the Open World program, Keystone currently participates in two other professional exchange opportunities: the International Trade Administration's three-month Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) program and Keystone's own one-year International Practical Training Program. Both Open World and SABIT coordinate U.S. visits for Eurasian mid- to upper-level business professionals, and the International Practical Training Program offers the same opportunity to young people hoping to gain international professional experience.

While traveling in KHSI affiliate regions, we try to encourage the most outstanding, passionate individuals we meet to pursue our professional exchanges. In many cases, these individuals are asked to draft proposals for new or improved services in their home countries, and we then select the best proposals to submit for KHSI funding. In this way we can both foster significant personal and professional relationships with people who fundamentally understand our world service field and promote the social entrepreneurship of those whose ideas will provide the best and most effective services.

Listening to the positive feedback from Open World participants at the end of the week was a gratifying reminder of how exchanges like this one not only promote the global alliance of nonprofit causes but also actively dismantle negative stereotypes. Again and again, participants observed that the opportunity to meet individuals who shared their passions effectively demolished the power of political generalizations of America and its citizens.

Global training and professional development partnerships are one of the most effective ways possible to distribute our resources. Moreover, the services and organizations that bloom from the ideas of our exchange participants often yield the next round of professional exchange interns. What results from these international exchanges and other global partnerships is ultimately a cycle of collaboration: an invaluable global network of people and organizations who share the same passion for Advancing the Human Spirit.


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