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Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

This Thursday at noon the Council will host leading Islamic thinker Tariq Ramadan. He is a controversial figure and was barred by the Bush administration from entering the United States in 2004. Now, less than a year after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lifted the travel ban, he will join the Council to discuss why Western Muslims should escape the mental, social, cultural and religious isolation many have created for themselves, while at the same time, why the west should recognize its Muslim neighbors as citizens with rights and responsibilities the same as their own. For more information about the program or to register, visit our website here.

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Americans have been donating in record numbers through new means—from phone texting to social media links—to provide relief to the victims of Haiti’s earthquake. The outpouring has been impressive, as revealed by the combination of on-line giving, the response to George Clooney’s global telethon (including iTunes sales) and the Council on Foundations’ list of its members’ grants.

Ultimately, Haiti’s recovery will be enabled by a similar mobilization of dollars and talent on behalf of Haiti’s long-term needs, for this is a country that has suffered from generations of mismanagement, endemic poverty, political instability, a weak civil society and autocratic governance. Its citizens deserve a better future. Perhaps new donors, inspired by this tragedy, will not only represent the “long tail” of philanthropy’s graph, but will have long memories as well and will be there ten years hence.

Our own country’s stance toward the small nation, which in 1804 produced the world’s first successful slave rebellion, has been wary and ineffectual, according to Mark Danner in a January 21 op-ed in The New York Times. A very different future for Haiti requires not only strategic philanthropy, but also sound U.S. policy, including the opening of our markets to Haitian agricultural produce and manufactured goods, and aid that translates into jobs for the Haitian people rather than patronage for its government.

Private philanthropy can complement good policy if the initial outpouring of support for relief efforts is matched by a longer-term commitment to sustainable development, a need most recently identified by Haiti’s Prime Minister. But re-imagining Haiti is more easily said than done. The U.S. is engaged in state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each offers its own opportunities for public-private partnerships. And each offers is own best practices, and discouraging lessons. Philanthropists point to remarkable and courageous social entrepreneurs, especially among women, such as Afghanistan’s Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who secretly taught girls throughout the Taliban’s rule. But the enterprise of poppy growing continues to outpace that of schooling young girls. Corruption not only precedes crises. It often follows as well.

How to pivot from immediate disaster relief to a long-term plan for what Secretary of State Clinton refers to as a Haiti that has come back “stronger and better” than before will be on the minds of “new philanthropists” as they gather for their ninth annual Global Philanthropy Forum from April 19-21 in Silicon Valley. This year’s focus on global health, food security and access to safe drinking water and sanitation seems especially apt in the wake of the earthquake’s shocks. Each represents a particularly crying need in Haiti. The philanthropists’ focus on results will likely make them sympathetic in the near-term to the argument made in a post to the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy blog, which called for support of organizations offering impact, rather than low overhead, as their metric for success. As for the medium-term, the recommendations in Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors’ Haiti Emergency Update, stressing the importance of the later stages of disaster recovery may resonate. And the Inter-American Development Bank’s President, Luis Alberto Moreno, will surely make the case for investing in Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure, education system, housing and building stock, access to healthcare and other needs identified by the Bank over the years. Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour of the Crisis Group, will speak to the linkages between civil conflict on the one hand, and state failure on the other. Peter Gleick will shed light on the role that water management or mismanagement can play. Actor Jim Carrey will speak to breakthroughs in sustainable agriculture. David Aylward of mHealth Alliance will speak to new ways to deliver heath care in stressful conditions where infrastructure is lacking. And former Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, will speak to the responsibility of neighbors and regional organizations to strengthen societies before crises occur, so that those societies are able to prepare for or rebound from inevitable shocks.

As they consider the opportunities available to them, the gathering’s new philanthropists and political office holders will consider ways to partner with more recent entrants into the world of giving—the on-line donors, cell phone texters, twitter followers, iTunes purchasers—who are now part of the world of philanthropy. If those who represent the long tail of the giving graph also have long memories, then the tragic past of Haiti, and countries that are similarly weak, need not be their future for generations to come. Instead they can be among those societies that have the resilience to absorb and overcome the shocks that nature has to offer.

—Jane Wales

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Last Thursday, former President of Mexico Vicente Fox joined a packed Council audience and our President and CEO Jane Wales for an unscripted conversation on the current challenges facing Mexico. On Mexico’s war on drugs, the first topic of discussion, President Fox gave potential strategies and necessary actions for ending the violence and killings, emphasizing the need to fight the war from the demand side. President Fox also praised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her recent comments admitting the role of US demand for drugs and supply of weapons in fueling the violence and encouraged continued cooperation between the two countries. Other topics of conversation included the Mexican economy, the H1N1 virus (or “swine flu”), NAFTA, immigration, and democracy. For the full conversation between President Fox and Jane Wales, check out the audio and video recordings here at our online archive or watch a short video clip of the program below.

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Today, the Global Partnership Initiative, launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at our Global Philanthropy Forum conference in April, hosts the first ever US Government sponsored TED event – “TED@State.”  Speakers will include philanthropist Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of the Acumen Fund and economist Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, among others. Videos from the event will be posted on the TED website.  Exciting to see our government keeping its word on seeking innovative ideas from new sectors!

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Matthew Bishop and Michael Green put up a great post yesterday on Obama’s plans for philanthropy that came out during GPF last week.  Looking at Sonal Shah and Secretary Clinton’s remarks, they discuss the administration’s attitude toward philanthropy and what this might mean going forward for joint government-philanthropic initiatives.  They applaud most of Secretary Clinton’s outline for a working relationship between the State Department and philanthropy, especially where she argues that we must focus on, “avoiding duplication, learning from each other, [and] maximizing our impact by looking for best practices.”

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We were lifted by a live musical performance by Peter Buffet, Co-Chair of NoVo Foundation – whose music seemed to reach out and embrace the room. He performed pieces that were inspired by his work in promoting the lives of adolescent girls, by his observations of tremendous environmental waste, and by philanthropy, which – he reminded us – translates to “love of people.”  Between songs he asked the audience whether the truth of humans can really be unfolded at 5% a year, and it was no coincidence that this question was followed by a song whose chorus asked: “can we love in the time that we live?” And in a moment of levity noted that one song was inspired by an RFP (Request for Proposal), laughing that this is perhaps the only audience for which that would have meaning.

This interlude preceded the considered remarks of His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network. A man who has devoted fifty years to poverty alleviation throughout Africa, and from the Middle East to Pakistan noted that “building successful nation states will depend — as it did during industrialization in the West — on providing significantly more access to opportunities for rural populations…It requires that the quality of rural life is a daily concern for national governments.”

He urged fellow philanthropists to work with governments and traditional institutions to harness a massive, coordinated effort to reach the rural poor. “Longstanding values and traditions must be understood and related to modern life; these institutions are among the best means we have for improving the lives of most people in the developing world, who remain in rural communities.”

A large percent of the world’s problems have been born in the countryside of the poorest countries; by ignoring these areas, the Aga Khan argued, the entire world becomes vulnerable to the risk of conflict.  His Highness also discussed his multiple-input approach to tackling development problems, and likened this approach to Secretary Clinton’s emphasis on finding the greatest impact from different sectors through strategic partnerships. On a personal note, he shared with participants the perceived tensions between his relationship with his work as the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, and his relationship with his work as a philanthropist.  Such tensions, however, have been falsely created by what he calls the clash of ignorance between Muslim and Christian societies.  Islam, he explained, places strong value on the elimination of poverty in society, and an even stronger value on philanthropy’s central role in this process.   He expressed optimism about President Obama, who is committed to working with people across regions and sectors to reduce misunderstanding, so that we can work in partnership to address endemic poverty.

(Read the rest of Jane’s post here)

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The 8th Annual Global Philanthropy Forum Conference kicked off today in Washington, DC with an opening keynote by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, who reminded GPF members that this conference is about borderless giving. She urged them to transcend national and societal boundaries as they seek long-term solutions to the problems they confront. In her remarks, she used the example of education and emphasized that “quality education is everyone’s responsibility” and requires the involvement of all societal sectors. She argued that education is one of the most powerful mechanisms to alleviate poverty and promote health, tolerance and peace. She ended by challenging participants to create more innovative partnerships for investing in education abroad as it “gives us the chance to lift all generations and bridge the gaps that divide us around the world.”

The Global Philanthropy Forum is a community of innovative and strategic givers focused on creating systemic change throughout the world. They are also teachers and students that convene at the GPF Annual Conference to share their knowledge, learn from each other’s experiences, reflect together and create lasting partnerships for tackling some of the world’s most complex problems. GPF members are focused on how social change is driven and the role they can most effectively play.

This year, we have gathered to explore the ways in which the philanthropic sector can leverage its flexibility through strategic partnerships to address interconnected crises that every country – its government and its people – now face. They include poverty at home and abroad, climate change, uneven access to affordable healthcare and quality education, and the risk of state failure in the wake of conflict.

That we have convened the Annual Conference in Washington, DC this year – a center of great power, policy and promise, but also a center of great poverty in the US – is in itself significant.  It speaks directly to what one GPF member, Brizio Biondi-Mora, CEO of the AVINA Foundation, noted this morning in the “How to Make the Most of the Global Philanthropy Forum” session when he said that we are living in a world where local occurrences and crises are shaped by global systems and synergies. (…click here to read the post in its entirety)

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