VSO underlines new global approach with appointments of International Board Trustees
VSO today underlined its new global focus with the appointment of a new Chair and six new trustees to its International Board.
As the organisation marked International Volunteers Day it unveiled Mari Simonen, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, as the new Chair, together with six new board members who bring to the international development charity their experience in campaigning for women's rights, helping people access better health services and improving education opportunities in developing countries.
In a further sign of this growing internationalisation, VSO will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding today at the United Nations headquarters in New York with US volunteering organisation Peace Corps, as part of events organised by UN Volunteers to mark the tenth anniversary of International Year of Volunteers. The agreement will promote greater joint working and skill sharing between the two organisations in selected projects around the world.
VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne said:
"VSO is changing – from a UK-based volunteering organisation to a global development charity which engages people from all over the world in the fight against poverty. I'm excited to be working with the new trustees, all of whom are from outside the UK and nearly half from the global south. Their appointment shows how we’re implementing this more global approach at the highest level.
"In the long term we want to grow the VSO federation internationally. I'd like to see more VSOs, in more countries, providing a local presence that keeps us truly relevant in the countries where we work.
"The same global approach applies to our volunteers themselves: a VSO volunteer is now just as likely to be someone from Kenya, India or the Philippines as they are someone from the UK, Ireland or the Netherlands.
"We’ll never lose that focus on people sharing their skills with people in other countries, with all the benefits that it brings to volunteer and partner alike. We now want to build a network of volunteers which stretches all over the world."
The new trustees are:
Anjali Sen, South Asia Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation, a network of 151 associations providing sexual and reproductive health rights
Nthobi Angel, Chair of KasigoTiso Holdings, one of South Africa’s largest black-owned investment companies. She has extensive knowledge of the African continent and is a director of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC)
Rasheda Choudhury, Executive Director, Campaign for Popular Education Bangladesh, and former government advisor
Pamela Culpepper, Senior Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion at PepsiCo
Wayan Vota, Senior Director of Inveneo, a social enterprise focused on getting the tools of ITC into rural communities in the developing world
Tom Carver, Vice President, Communications and Strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an award-winning journalist
They will join the existing trustees:
Grace Aguiling-Dalisay, Professor at the University of the Philippines and a lifelong volunteer
Mark Astarita, Director of Fundraising, British Red Cross and Chair of the Institute of Fundraising
Sir Andrew Cubie, Vice Chair, consultant to law firm Fyfe Ireland WS, Chairman of the Court of Napier University and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
John Bason, a former VSO volunteer who is now Finance Director of Associated British Foods
Kibaya Laibuta, Chartered Arbitrator and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a Commissioner with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution
The new Chair of VSO's International Board, Mari Simonen, said: "VSO's mission and vision are international, so it is only right that the Board reflects this. We have brave ambitions and big challenges ahead, so VSO needs to continue to grow to meet these – we will do that best if we are truly international.
"It feels very complementary that I bring to this position all the experience and skills gained during my 31 years at the UN. Working for the UN gives you a very global perspective and this echoes the direction VSO is taking.
"Change starts with one person, one person at a time. If you join up individual actions you create a movement, with everyone having an important role to play. It is easy to get lost in so much poverty, with problems seeming too big and too far away: we must realise that what we do every day has impact."
New trustee Anjali Sen said:
"The planet is a better place whenever somebody, somewhere, resolves to make her or his ideas and effort count -voluntarily – and make a difference. Passion and energy flows. This is the spirit of volunteerism.
"I want to be a part of an organisation that brings more and more people’s ideas, passions, energies and efforts to the fore, to make this planet a better place to inhabit for now and for the future to come. I will do my bit."
VSO has more than 50 years experience of empowering people to tackle poverty. The organisation is increasingly focused on strengthening systems, developing policies and building capacity in the 34 developing countries where it works, while continuing to deliver services directly where that is what is most needed.
The new board of trustees will take responsibility for continuing this approach of fighting poverty through people, a strategy which in the last year has seen volunteers support 26 million people in the world’s poorest countries.
About VSO: VSO is different from most organisations that fight poverty. We bring people together to share skills and knowledge. In doing so, we create lasting change. Our volunteers work in whatever fields are necessary to address the forces that keep people in poverty – from education and health through helping people learn the skills to make a living. In doing so, they invest in local people, so the impact they have endures long after their placement ends.