PartnersGlobal to Lead International Consortium Awarded $45M Powered by the People Grant by United States Agency for International Development 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has selected PartnersGlobal to lead a global consortium that will implement Powered by the People (PxP), a five-year, $45 million grant and largest single award to date by USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. 

The initiative will strengthen the agency, resiliency, and efficacy of activists advancing human rights, social justice, democracy, and inclusive development worldwide. Powered by the People was announced by President Biden at the first Summit for Democracy as a key commitment under the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal.  

PartnersGlobal will lead a consortium of over two dozen local, national, regional, and international organizations, including Afrikki, CANVAS, FSC Indigenous Foundation, Fundación Avina, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Guardian Project, the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict (ICNC), the Movement for Community Led Development (MCLD), the Prague Civil Society Centre, Saferworld, Videre est Credere, and a variety of activist-led collectives and groups creating positive change in their communities. PxP activities will include providing direct and accessible funding to civic actors at the community level while ensuring access to protection and response networks for embattled activists that are in danger or under threat.  

“We are honored to lead this innovative partnership with USAID and our consortium colleagues. PxP presents a unique opportunity to apply learnings from our 30+ years of experience elevating local leaders and marginalized voices to create resilient civic space and thus strengthen peace and stability,” said Kyra Buchko and Roselie Vasquez-Yetter, PartnersGlobal’s Co-Executive Directors.  They added, “Partners is deeply committed to supporting activists and movement leaders on the frontlines of building more inclusive and rights-based societies around the world.”  

Powered by the People features a unique public-private partnership between USAID and Humanity United (HU), a philanthropic organization dedicated to cultivating the conditions for enduring peace and freedom. HU has committed $750,000 to support PxP and intends to host a multi-donor fund that will provide additional resources in response to priorities identified through the initiative. 

  April 18, 2023

PartnersGlobal is pleased to announce the appointment of Eva Rodriguez Bellegarrigue today to its Board of Directors. Rodriguez Bellegarrigue, founding Director of Partners El Salvador, brings expertise in peacebuilding and promoting the rule of law, with more than a decade serving in leadership positions in bilateral institutions and nongovernmental organizations.

“Eva’s remarkable track record of collaboration with Partners and her extensive experience in peacebuilding will offer invaluable insights to the Board,” said Partners Board Chair Chris Mitchell. “We are eager to learn from Eva’s regional expertise and perspective, as well as her inclusive and participatory approaches to peacebuilding, in addressing the root causes of conflict in a variety of contexts,” added Co-Executive Director Kyra Buchko.

Eva’s history with Partners began in 2013 when Partners El Salvador, formerly known asFundación Iris de Centroamérica, joined the PartnersGlobal peacebuilding network. Eva founded Fundación Iris in 2012 with the aim of promoting dialogue, peace, and democracy-building. Under Eva’s leadership, Partners El Salvador worked extensively with local communities, civil society organizations, and government agencies to promote peace, security, and social justice across the country. Her team designed and implemented innovative peacebuilding and mediation initiatives and built strong relationships with dozens of local and international partners and stakeholders.

Eva is a member of the Aspen Leadership Global Network and a pro bono advisor to the international organization New Acropolis, where she leads a project supporting the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, focused on peace and justice. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the Universidad Centro Americana “Jose Simeon Cañas,” and studied human rights and mediation at De Paul University and George Washington University. Eva is currently a Peace Fellow with Rotary Peace Foundation at Uppsala University Peace Center in Sweden.

Eva urges, “It is important to create synergy between the perspectives of the global North and global South in this particular moment in history. As a member of Partners’ Board of Directors, I am honored to support the organization’s mission of promoting sustainable peace and security around the world. By working collaboratively and inclusively with diverse communities, we can make a real difference in the lives of people affected by conflict and violence.”

  March 16, 2023

PartnersGlobal is pleased to announce the appointment of Anne Labovitz to its Board of Directors. Labovitz brings her experience using art to foster interconnectedness and cross-cultural dialogue to create ambitious works that celebrate humanity and caring. 

“Anne Labovitz’s creative and collaborative approach to breaking down barriers and fostering connection through art aligns with Partners’ commitment to building authentic partnerships and fostering inclusivity.” said Board Chair, Chris Mitchell. “We look forward to building on Anne’s innovative fusion of artistic expression and bridgebuilding to elevate the important role that the arts play in peacebuilding and democratic participation,” added Co-Executive Director, Roselie Vasquez-Yetter. 

Labovitz creates contemporary artworks that address the ways in which political, social, and cultural platforms can facilitate personal acts of care. Conversation and human interaction are integral parts of her creative process, allowing her to explore the blurred boundaries between gallery exhibition and social practice. She employs color, texture, and unique installation practices to create spaces for contemplation and community-building. 

For years, Labovitz has examined the importance of human connection and its visual embodiment, culminating in 122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders. The monumental works, currently installed at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, comprised not only of seventy-eight scrolls and sixty recorded interviews but also included the active participation of six city mayors and 1500 volunteers. Labovitz was also a participant in the initial cohort of the Woke Coach and a founding member of Racial Equity Committee at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). Her current long-term social practice project is the I Love You Institute, an artist-led site-specific project urgently working with communities to address today’s world creatively. It combines artmaking, social justice, radical kindness, and relational listening to normalize, saying “I Love You” as an alternative to division and conflict.  

More recently, Labovitz has lent her expertise and leadership as a steering committee member for Turn Up the Turn Out, a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting voter engagement and awareness.  

Labovitz earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and art from Hamline University in St. Paul, followed by a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Plymouth. She is an adjunct Professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where she continues to inspire and guide the next generation of creative minds.  

“I am honored to serve as a board member, working with PartnersGlobal to help achieve a more peaceful, inclusive, democratic, and prosperous world,” said Labovitz. 

  March 16, 2023

PartnersGlobal is pleased to announce the appointment of Congressman Mike Honda to its Board of Directors today. Honda comes to the Board following a lifetime of distinguished public service, including a 16-year career in Congress. Partners is delighted to welcome Honda, a longtime public servant with a history of promoting inclusive and just policy solutions, to advance its mission to support resilient civic space throughout the world.

“I am deeply honored to join Partners’ Board of Directors,” said Honda.  “I look forward to working with an inclusive and innovative organization that stewards a global network of independent peacebuilding centers in 20 countries. Partners prioritizes resilient local leadership to create solutions that enable peace and democracy to flourish.”

Honda is no stranger to the causes of peacebuilding and social justice. During his childhood in California, his family was among 7,000 individuals sent to the Granada War Relocation Center in Colorado under the policy of Internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Honda recalled Japanese-American internment and warned against renewed racial profiling. In 2002, he voted against the authorization of the use of military force against Iraq and later worked to improve security at the U.S. Capitol.

“Congressman Honda has been a changemaker his entire life,” said Board Chairman Chris Mitchell. “Partners will learn and benefit from his decades spent modeling the values of peacebuilding and democracy promotion through his service to community and country.”

Following the end of World War II, Honda and his family returned to the Bay Area and settled in San Jose, where he worked as a teacher and principal throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1971, Honda joined the San Jose planning commission and served for a decade, later serving on the San Jose school board for nine years (1981–1990) before winning election to the Santa Clara County board of supervisors. In 1996, Honda was elected to the California State Assembly, representing San Jose.

Honda would then go on to represent his district in the United States Congress. During his tenure as a legislator, Honda quietly attained positions of authority in the House Democratic Caucus, serving on the party’s Steering and Policy Committee and rising to a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. An advocate of tolerant and inclusive policies, Honda led the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and helped found the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“Congressman Honda’s tireless, lifelong dedication to inclusion, equity, and social justice is an inspiration to Partners,” said Co-Executive Director Roselie Vasquez-Yetter. “His exemplary leadership on issues affecting vulnerable and marginalized populations will strengthen our efforts to amplify their voices and build community resilience.

Washington, DC — PartnersGlobal signed a new cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development to strengthen civil society resiliency in Serbia. Civil society creates channels of communication and cooperation between government officials, business professionals, and nonprofit organizations to overcome collective challenges and improve the lives of people of Serbia. It is the vehicle to elevate citizens’ voices and needs, and mobilize for change.

The five-year Civil Society Resilience Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by PartnersGlobal, seeks to contribute to a more inclusive and pluralistic Serbian society. The project helps civil society to remain resilient in the face of closing civic space and perform its function as an effective watchdog, advocate, and monitor by:

  1. Equipping civil society with new knowledge, skills, and tools to fundraise, connect with different stakeholders, and communicate in complex operating environments;
  2. Building constructive dialogue between government and citizens;
  3. Bridging the gap between citizens and civil society through awareness raising, storytelling, and outreach; and
  4. Enabling the (re)emergence of civil society-government dialogue by improving existing civil society organizations’ participation mechanisms.

Building on two years of successful resiliency programming in Serbia under the INSPIRES project, this program will address the fragmentation of the sector through a cultivated blend of resiliency interventions that reach civic actors at the individual, organizational and sectoral levels. Targeting all three of these levels embodies the pillars of our ResiliencyPlus approach.

Project partners include the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), DT Institute, European Center for Not-for-profit Law (ECNL), Civic Initiatives, and Partners Serbia, all of which will provide strategic advice, legal, research, and technical assistance to dozens of civil society organizations and initiatives throughout Serbia. 

“This project reflects our commitment to ensure locally driven responses to complex challenges impeding civic engagement.” says Roselie Vasquez Yetter, Co-Executive Director at PartnersGlobal.  “With a combined three decades of Serbian civil society leadership across our consortium partners, we will collectively support civil society organizations’ resilience in the face of increasingly complex civic space challenges in Serbia.”

To learn more about the Civil Society Resilience Activity, please contact Program Manager Jessica Himelfarb directly at [email protected]


July 25, 2022

PartnersGlobal is pleased to announce the election of Chris Mitchell as Chair of its Board of Directors, along with the appointment of Elizabeth (Liz) Hume as a member of the board, effective immediately. Mitchell, who joined the board in 2014, will succeed current Chair Jonathan Davidson, who is stepping down from his leadership position after two decades of board service.

“For more than 30 years, PartnersGlobal has benefitted from some of the most talented and dedicated leaders across our communities, and today marks an exciting new chapter in our history,” said Co-Executive Director Kyra Buchko. “Chris’ experience and deep commitment to the mission of Partners will be integral to our organizational resiliency and growth as he builds on the legacy of Jonathan’s leadership over the last 12 years.”

Chris Mitchell serves as Vice President of Global Government Relations at IPC, the leading trade association for electronics manufacturing. He is responsible for development and implementation of the organization’s global advocacy efforts and public policy agenda with a focus on issues related to trade, industrial policy, workforce, and environment, health, and safety. He also oversees IPC’s expanding research program, which includes the organization’s longstanding statistical programs. He previously spent nearly a decade working for members of Congress from the State of California. His experience and insights will help usher Partners forward into our next phase of growth.

“It’s an honor to be elected chair of the Partners Board,” said Mitchell. “I look forward to working closely with our dynamic and talented Co-Executive Directors, as well as our experienced and dedicated Board of Directors, to further the important mission of the organization. With our longstanding focus on locally led development and organizational resiliency, Partners is uniquely positioned to support peacebuilding initiatives globally.”

Partners also recognizes the exceptional service of outgoing Chair Jonathan Davidson, who will be retiring from the board at the end of his current term in September 2022.

“We are deeply grateful for Jonathan’s long service as Board Chair,” said Co-Executive Director Roselie Vasquez-Yetter. “His vision and tireless dedication to Partners have been critical to our success, especially over the past two years as our communities have navigated the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Joining the PartnersGlobal Board of Directors as a new appointee is Elizabeth Hume, Executive Director of the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). Liz is a conflict expert with more than two decades’ experience in senior leadership positions in bilateral, multilateral institutions and NGOs. She has extensive experience in policy and advocacy and overseeing sizeable and complex peacebuilding programs in conflict-affected and fragile states in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. Liz is also a seasoned mediator and a frequent speaker on topics including countering violent extremism, international conflict analysis, and peacebuilding in conflict-affected and fragile states.

“At a time of considerable democratic backsliding and a 30-year high in global violent conflict, I am honored to join the board of an organization working with hundreds of local peacebuilding groups through robust global networks to prevent violent conflict and build sustainable peace,” said Hume. “While conflict is inevitable, violent conflict is not, and It is organizations like PartnersGlobal that give me hope for the future.”

PartnersGlobal advances resilient civic space through authentic partnership and accompaniment, inclusive processes, and conflict sensitivity to bring about more peaceful, secure, and accountable societies. For more than three decades, our mission and vision for a more peaceful and prosperous world has centered on and assumes a preeminent role of local leadership and locally led problem-solving.

To learn more about our organization or to make a contribution, please visit

by Kyra Buchko and Alyson Lyons

The resounding call for locally-led development by USAID Administrator Samantha Power resonated deeply with us at PartnersGlobal. In her speech from May 2022, Administrator Power reiterated USAID’s commitment to locally-led development as an approach that “prioritizes and elevates the roles of organizations, institutions, and people of the countries we serve” and is “the key to delivering the kind of results that will be visible years and years in the future, long after our programs have wound down.” At PartnersGlobal, we couldn’t agree more. 

For more than three decades, our mission and vision for a more peaceful and prosperous world has centered on and assumes a preeminent role of local leadership and locally-led problem-solving. It is the reason we founded The Partners Network of 20+ local, independently operated nonprofits based in Central and Eastern Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. We all share what we call The Partners Way – a collective commitment to locally driven development that brings together people, communities, and institutions to jointly reach decisions and take action that build peace and transform conflict. At its core, The Partners Way adheres to the values of inclusion, accountability, resiliency, justice, and nonviolence.  In practice, we focus on process guided by principles of locally-led development and centered on the role of local leadership – no matter the issue, topic, or thematic area.

As we begin to feel a real shift across the international donor community, and specifically US government agencies, to adopt a more locally-led development agenda, we are optimistic and hopeful about the next chapter of development assistance. And since we’ve been doing locally-led development for some time now, we’d like to share a few insights from our experience.

Shift Your Mindset to Shift the Power

The first step toward embracing locally-led development is to shift your mindset from one dominated by Western values and priorities to one guided by community-driven needs. The movement to decolonize aid is intricately connected with this idea. The purpose of decolonizing aid is to transform unequal power structures rooted in colonial constructs that prioritize Global North mandates and perspectives, impacting resource allocation and perpetuating discriminatory norms and practices in the international aid system.

So how do we shift our mindsets? First, we must start by asking questions and listening actively to local organizations and partners about THEIR priorities and needs. While it may sound easy, active listening is one of the hardest soft skills to do effectively because it requires that you pay attention, put aside judgment, and withhold opinions or criticisms. Practice, practice, practice active listening and ask for feedback from partners.

Second, we need to reimagine our relationship to our partners by engaging local leaders as peers and colleagues instead of ‘primes and subs’ to our programs. In this way, we can reorient ourselves to learning from each other, valuing everyone’s inputs and experiences. Further, we need to facilitate diverse and equitable participation and involvement in decision making. This means reaching out to amplify and integrate the voices of women, youth, and indigenous communities and peoples to ensure there is meaningful consultation, as detailed in the Global Fragility Act Coalition’s recommendations on local consultation processes. For project-based collaboration, it is critically important to engage all partners consistently and equitably before the program begins, throughout implementation, and well beyond the project’s end date. 

Third, let’s be intentional about the language we use when communicating to donors, partners, and peers. Language matters. At Partners, we seek informal and formal input from our partners about the optics and impressions created by the language we use in proposals, discussions with peers, and other communications.  This helps ensure that our messaging about our work and our values – including how we talk about local leadership – resonates with and is authentic to local perspectives. And it requires that any new or improved terminology and messaging are translated accurately in local languages and placed into appropriate context.

Progress through Partnership, not Programs

At the end of the day, trust is built and strengthened when we focus on partnership over projects. And trust is a necessary prerequisite for sustaining a locally-led development agenda. Partnership transcends transactional cooperation based on specific activities and forms the basis for continued connection well past the end of a project.  Not only do we work toward sustainability of project results and impact, but we view durable and resilient organizational and personal relationships as an ongoing benefit for all parties. 

One way to build and maintain trust over time is to collectively design your process for collaboration rather than focus on specific project activities or objectives. The end goal is important, but how you get there matters more in the long run. Ask your partners HOW they view and approach collaboration. What is important to them in terms of process? Where is collaboration needed and not needed? How can systems for program implementation be set up that encourage and foster inclusive participation and input? The emphasis on collaborative process helps to decentralize power and facilitates shared responsibility. It places decision-making more equitably in the hands of the local partners and communities impacted by a development or peacebuilding program.

The locally-led development agenda calls on all of us to be far more ambitious in expanding who we work with, and changing how we work so that collectively we drive the sustainable, lasting change that we all seek. This is how we at PartnersGlobal will continue to support local leadership to inspire and guide communities to peacefully manage change.

by Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Alyson Lyons

Civil society organizations come together to form networks and coalitions for a variety of reasons – maybe they are looking to maximize impact by collectively advocating on a particular issue or they are interested in sharing resources and skills, or simply just want to learn from one another. While it is one thing to form a network, it is quite another to maintain its existence during times of uncertainty and dynamic shifts to the funding and operating environments.

Our own Partners Network story is one of resiliency and renewal. Over the years, the needs of our network have shifted, and in 2020 we were faced with the challenge to adapt and thrive or remain static and decline. We called upon the PeaceNexus Foundation to facilitate a network strengthening process that forced us to come to terms with some major questions about who we are as a network and why we are together. Reimagining our purpose opened our minds to how we want to work together and resulted in new structures for leadership, collaboration, and communication.   It also opened our eyes to aspects of our structural and financial models that were in need of a bit of a renovation and upgrade.

One of the main aspects of network resiliency is the ability to leverage peer networks for mutual sharing and learning. Connectedness, unsurprisingly, is one of the factors in our ResiliencyPlus Framework that we expand upon regularly.  Our 32 years as a network brings the awareness that being in a network isn’t enough – the intentionality of the purpose for joining and engaging is the key to activating the potential of the network and making participation worthwhile. 

Recently together with the PeaceNexus Foundation, we co-facilitated a learning opportunity with peers from other civil society peace and development networks to share our own story and collect insights from others. The result was a rich and honest exchange of the major challenges, lessons, and adaptations networks are making to not only survive, but thrive in our ever-changing environment. Below are two main outcomes of the exchange.

Distributive leadership instead of command and control

Let’s face it. The age of the rigid, hierarchical leadership structure is a thing of the past. While the command and control model worked primarily to generate resources for a network, today these funding pools are no longer as widely available as they were fifteen years ago. Command and control style of centralized leadership also creates layers of bureaucracy, stifling collaboration and creating unequal power dynamics amongst network members that serve to create competition rather than build trust and collaboration.

Enter the distributive leadership model. Distributive leadership is a shared management model that decentralizes leadership at the top and disperses decision making from one individual to a collective group or groups. Distributive leadership empowers members who, under more centralized structures, may not have an opportunity to step into a leadership role – upending deeply rooted power structures and impacting resource allocation. The Partners Network adopted a distributed leadership model as a result of our self-evaluation process.  This created new leadership pathways for members to step into decision-making roles, such as the Young Professionals Group. Today, the YPG is made up of mid-level professionals and is responsible for organizing network wide trainings on topics of interest, such as a skill like mediation or thematic area like conflict transformation.

There are still situations where command and control might be more effective, such as with crisis management. However, being able to implement this form of leadership for specific circumstances rather than employing it as the overarching model may be more effective for the challenges of today. Leadership does not need to reside at the top. It can emerge at all levels of an organization if the right leadership model is in place.    

Decentralized governance structure in the virtual space

Closely related to the leadership model is a network’s governance structure, which tells us how a network organizes and regulates itself. Traditionally, civil society networks adopted formal governance structures and practices that set up rigid policies, agreed upon business development goals, and membership parameters. But does this approach still make sense as we operate more and more in the virtual space? Networks always had some aspect of online operations, but the pandemic forced the accelerated adoption of practices that generally were in person such as annual conferences or regional meetings. And it doesn’t look like we will be turning back. Combined with the decline in general support funds, maintaining a network today falls heavily on the shoulders of its members. More often than not, member-driven administrative and operational roles are voluntary and often struggle to remain at the top of the priority list.

From our own experience and those shared at the learning event, many networks are adapting to their new virtual reality and transitioning from more formal governance structures to more flexible, decentralized ones. Decentralized governance allows for new modes of collaboration, communication, and coordination to evolve organically. It also levels the playing field and invites input from diverse voices, creating a more equitable and inclusive network culture. For example, our own decentralization process inadvertently led to strengthened ties amongst network members located in the same region. We reflected on the expression of regional sub-network coordination and decided to lean in. This was achieved by creating a Liaison Group comprised of regional representatives that serve as a voice for members in each region when needing to make decisions on issues and opportunities that affect the entire network. This new process has created space for more authentic conversations that take cultural sensitivities and norms into consideration in a more intentional and organic way.

The future of networks

If there is one thing that most analysts agree on, it’s that we will never go back 100% to our pre-pandemic reality. Dynamics will continue to shift, impacting how we as civil society actors come together. And we need to continue to find ways to join forces and collaborate. Networks are a conduit of civil society resiliency. We must adapt to not just survive but thrive.  Resilient networks not only weather crises – they emerge stronger and more unified.  Inter-organizational network sharing and strategizing is an even more effective determinant of resilient network outcomes.  What we all agreed during our learning and sharing session was that each of the networks represented was able to recover from sudden crises that we encountered.  What we realized was that more important than recovery is the need to learn to develop the ability to make use of the opportunities brought on by a crisis.  By doing so, we can turn the obstacle into an opportunity for growth and learning.  In a network, that growth can be amplified and magnified. It’s our responsibility to our members to help transform the deflection of the shock to an embrace of the potential for positive change in a world of endless disruption.

Rasha Abdel Latif, Director of MENA and Civil Society Strengthening at PartnersGlobal, was recently appointed as a member on the Board of Directors at Amnesty International – USA (AIUSA). We could not think of a more deserving person to step into this leadership role at one of the most well-established and well-respected human rights organizations. In this leadership role, Rasha will contribute to the development of a clear vision for AIUSA and provide stewardship for the organization, establishing appropriate and constructive working relationships with staff and ensures the financial health of the organization through fiscal oversight and fundraising.

Rasha brings nearly seventeen years of experience to this leadership role, working in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with local and international organizations and activists to amplify citizen voices, increase participation in decision making processes, advocate for human rights, and create innovative solutions to social problems. Throughout her career, Rasha led and coordinated many local and national human rights campaigns and initiatives.

“I strive every day to be a catalyst for change and am driven by making a difference through advocating for human rights issues and for safe environments for women, youth, human rights activists, and marginalized communities.” – Rasha Abdel Latif

Rasha is Arab-American and was born and raised in Jordan. She has Palestinian roots and a passion for global citizenship. Rasha started her journey with The Partners Network in 2009, working at PartnersJordan for eight years. In 2019, she joined PartnersGlobal as the Director for MENA and Civil Society Strengthening where she oversees a portfolio of regional programs focused on social accountability, governance, transparency, anti-corruption, and protecting and defending civic space. Based in Washington DC, Rasha is an active member of the Arab American community and loves the opportunity to showcase and share her cultural heritage and customs with others. You can follow Rasha on Twitter at @RashaAbdelLatif.

At PartnersGlobal, we believe ordinary citizens have a right and a role to shape the decisions and outcomes that affect them. We know that building a resilient civil society is essential to achieving inclusive, just, and prosperous societies based on democratic principles that respect the rights of all citizens. That’s why we work in service of local leaders and organizations to bring about peaceful change to their communities. Because locally led change leads to more sustainable outcomes. And a resilient civil society is a catalyst for change.