Two U-M centers collaborating to help struggling democracies


The Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and the William Davidson Institute are partnering to sponsor an NGO Leadership Bootcamp for leaders of 20 non-governmental organizations from countries that have recently undergone democratic transitions.

The training program aims to make civil society organizations more effective and sustainable.

The program will take place in Bratislava, Slovakia, Oct. 20-23. A Slovak-based NGO, the Pontis Foundation, is serving as the local implementation partner. This marks the inaugural program organized jointly by the Weiser Center and the WDI.

“Given that we are both focused on assisting and studying countries in transition, this is a natural partnership,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of education at WDI. “This program offers training, free of charge, to a group that can make a huge impact in their societies.”

Gillett and Weiser Center Program Manager Marysia Ostafin will travel to Bratislava for the program. Ronald Weiser, founder of the Weiser Center and former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, will serve as a guest speaker in the program.

“This is the next step for the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies — helping NGOs to navigate the necessary tasks of accounting, publicity, government relations and strategic planning,” said Anna Grzymala-Busse, academic program director of the Weiser Center, and the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of European and Eurasian Studies. “We’re excited about this collaboration with the WDI, and with our international partner, the Pontis Foundation.”

The NGO Leadership Bootcamp builds the managerial capacity of leaders of non-governmental civil society organizations so citizens there can advance positive social and political change.

Over four days, participants will gain the tools needed to make their organizations more effective. Sessions will focus on advocacy and public policy building, management skills, marketing, resource mobilization and proposal writing.

The past 30 years have seen the collapse of regimes in Europe and Eurasia, and the attempt to democratize these societies. Civil society organizations are critical to building better and more responsive democratic institutions.

Many NGOs are working across the region to advance and strengthen civil society. These organizations need to be strengthened in order to maximize their effectiveness and ensure their sustainability.

Participants coming from Albania, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Tunisia and Ukraine will represent NGOs that focus on democracy, human rights, economic development, youth and civil society.

The NGO Leadership Bootcamp will be taught by global faculty, including WDI faculty affiliates, and will focus on building strong and sustainable organizations.


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