Gather Update: Building a Platform for Grassroots Leadership

The Goldin Institute is making great progress in building GATHER, the tablet-based distance learning course to promote grassroots leadership for community driven social change.

As the Director of App Development and User Experience, I have been building the interactive capacity of the Gather platform which now includes real time chat built into the educational platform.  We have been focused on “designing for the margins” making the content and navigation as user-friendly as possible so we reach the people the course aspires to support. 

My colleagues on the curriculum development side have welcomed a new instructional design expert to the team, Kelly Salek of Lessons Learned Consulting.  As Kelly noted:

"I have been involved in creating leadership and diversity trainings for a wide range of big companies.  Through working on Gather I've learned new ways to think about how and why we need to deeply and authentically engage our communities if we want to make lasting change."

The curriculum "map" developed by the Gather Team offers a concise overview of the range of values, tools and frameworks of the course. Together, these insights and strategies will help Gather Fellows to broaden the base of neighbors and partners active in community driven social change efforts, especially by prioritizing the voices of people most impacted or traditionally excluded from participation.


The Gather curriculum will offer a wide range of materials, perspectives and voices to guide group learning and reflection complemented by the opportunity to learn by doing through involving the local community as learning partners. Content will include, but not be limited to, the use of readings, interactive assignments, video and audio stories and commentary, illustrations, synchronous web chats, a “virtual café’’ and robust discussion boards. We will look for a media mix that encourages the course participants to establish relationships with one another as they move through the coursework. 

One example of an audio-visual resource that will be included in the Gather Library is "The Danger of a Single Story" by the novelist Chimamanda Adichie:

We are excited to host our inaugural class of Gather Fellows later this year. If you or someone you know wants a chance to develop and share grassroots leadership skills, click here to sign up for updates and a chance to apply.

June 2015 Newsletter

Inspiration in the face of adversity is the common thread weaving throughout this month's newsletter as we share with you updates from around the globe including stories of heroic work by strong female leaders, breaking boundaries to strengthen societies and the dynamic possibilities of leveraging technology to promote grassroots partnerships for global change.

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 


We recently caught up with Global Associate Malya Villard, although not in Haiti running KOFAVIV as you would normally expect to see her, but in Philadelphia. Due to death threats against her for her public role in fighting for justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, Malya has been forced to temporarily continue her important work from the US while she applies for asylum. We are excited to share this interview with Malya where she speaks passionately and courageously about her work.

A quick update of KOFAVIV's work over the past two months reveals that twenty-five trained male agents continue to work in high risk areas to prevent violence and provide support when women are attacked. In addition, the organization's call center is up and running. As a testament to its importance, within the 15 day period of April 15 to April 30 the center received 153 calls, two from victims of sexual violence, 104 calls for information and 47 calls for advice. Malya and the KOFAVIV staff will continue despite constant threats to ensure the safety of those in their community and a brighter future for Haiti.

Community Leadership Course

Inspiration and an update on the work in Haiti was only one piece of our conversation with Malya. We were pleased to continue the interview with Malya to hear her experience, wisdom and knowledge of strategic community organizing when resources are scarce and the work can be dangerous.

Through our interview, we took the lessons and insights Malya shared with us and are working to shape them into a case study for a new pilot Community Leadership course we are developing. Over the past several months the Goldin Institute has been working with the Danish Design School KaosPilots and a growing network of partners to develop a course designed to support global community driven social change.

In early May, the Goldin Institute hosted the KaosPilots team at our offices as they helped design and develop this virtual classroom, workshop and think tank. Structured as a series of modules to explore community-driven social change, a set of participants from around the globe will take a 12 week course together online. The term "together" is crucial as participants will explore topics such as leading adaptive change, asset based engagement and mobilizing community resources through a curriculum that values shared learning and the local knowledge of each course member. Participants take what is learned from the module, implement it in their own community and reconvene through the app to discuss their lessons learned and share best practices and principles. Look for an announcement on how to apply for this groundbreaking course in upcoming newsletters!


Adversity takes the form of growing violent unrest in the Philippines. The Mindanao region where our global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin is located has suffered from ongoing conflict for many years but the violence and displacement has increased greatly since January when Philippines Special Forces conducted a raid in Tukanalipao. Sadly, the aftermath of the raid has combined with clashes between local groups leading to a dramatic increase in violence as well as tens of thousands of displaced families. Further, tensions with the Government of the Philippines as well as disagreements within the negotiating partners are threatening to derail the ongoing peace process aimed at solving the crisis in Mindanao through a negotiated settlement granting greater autonomy and development to the region.

Despite the conflict, Susana and her team are moving forward and have brought the number of schools in the region with newly installed access to safe drinking water up to 98. As part of her continuing work to promote sustainability and ecological preservation, Susana led a series of trainings on Environmental Protection and Cultural Sensitivity to over 129 soldiers of the 61D Division Training School in the Philippine Army in honor of Earth Day celebrations.

Susana's partnership with the local communities throughout Mindanao has made possible a fragile but significant collaboration between the Philippine army and rebel groups which continues to bring clean water to schools and communities across the Mindanao region despite the increased tensions in the region. Both rebel and military leaders have declared that bringing life-saving clean water access to the schools in the region through this project is a way to "win the peace" rather than fight the war.


Time and time again we have been exposed to the disturbing reality of youth participation in militant violence. Parents in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia have called for assistance in addressing the growing threat of their children being recruited or forced to join Al-Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

The Goldin Institute and Arigatou International are expanding our partnership to address this problem of child recruitment. On January 14 and 15, twenty-four leaders from local grassroots initiatives gathered together for a workshop to discuss strategies for Countering Violent Extremism. The discussion was robust and varied, beginning with an identification of what makes communities vulnerable to violent extremism and ending with a commitment to support a youth-led peace ambassadors program. For more information, you can read the full report Countering Violent Extremism workshops here.

Watch our next newsletter for more information on the Community Leadership Course as well as some exciting additions to our growing team from Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar!

Until next time, remember that you can get the latest news as it happens by joining our online community at Facebook and Twitter.



March 2015 Newsletter

It's been a long winter, but we finally see hints of spring as the light changes ever so slightly. And each day we see more than a hint of our work making a difference in the communities we partner with.

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 

New Community Leaders Taking Root

Participants in one of the Gulu ESPERE Workshops.

GULU, UGANDA – In January and February, two new workshops were conducted in Uganda, using the ESPERE Methodology first developed by our colleagues in Colombia. These workshops catered to the specific needs of the local participants and served teachers, former abductees, young mothers, street children and those directly impacted by regional conflict. A full report with photos chronicling the unique partners, setting and community members in Gulu can be found within the full story here.

With program co-creator Lissette Mateus Roa overseeing the work, and Global Associate Denis Okello coordinating on the ground from Uganda, ESPERE is in a great place to continue its growth in this region and Denis reports that there are two upcoming workshops which will "draw on the human spirt, connect those looking to build a better future and prove that ESPERE's cornerstone concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation rise above the legacy of hate."


[quote]Each successful attendee of the Workshops will carry forward the accomplishments and lessons learned from their participation to benefit their communities at large. We have several more Workshops already underway."[/quote]

- Denis Okello, Goldin Institute Uganda


Concern Worldwide Honors Mimi Frankel

GI Advisory Board member Mimi Frankel (far right).

CHICAGO, USA – We had the honor of seeing our long-time Advisory Board member, Mimi Frankel, accept a Humanitarian award from Concern Worldwide. Mimi's outstanding accomplishments reflecting justice, compassion and generosity in her work and daily life were officially recognized at a Chicago event attended by several hundred supporters to social causes around the world. For us, it was a confirmation of what we have long known about Mimi: she is a woman who will bring all her energy and devotion to raising awareness for the issues she believes in, especially ones which allow women to lead in solutions to benefit their communities.

Brave Leadership for Peace

Dr. Anayatin coordinates relief efforts in Mindanao.

MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES – We can't say enough about the ongoing work of our Global Associate in the Philippines, Dr. Susana Anayatin. Despite recent increases in violence in Mindanao, she continues the struggle for peace in Mindanao and Susana leads by example in her daily life as a teacher, environmentalist and organizer for the peace movement.

Already several times this year Susana has reported on the personal impact of the conflict and loss of lives to colleagues and friends, but this only makes her redouble her efforts to the cause of peace. While the story begins to get the attention it deserves from the established press here in the west, we have known how important it is to tell the story from Susana's perspective - and we will continue to do this while supporting the important work making a difference in Mindanao.

Promoting Gender Equality at the UN

Colleague Michael Di Maria (far right) at the UN gender equality conference

NEW YORK, USA – Recently, our newest Advisory Board Member, Akif Irfan was in attendance at a United Nations event exploring the issue of gender equity amongst young people in developing countries. Akif skillfully connected our ongoing work in places like Haiti with the conference's themes, while building relationships with colleagues interested in the same leadership initiatives, like Michael Di Maria of the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Haitian-American Connections

Elsie Hernandez - Founder and CEO of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago

CHICAGO, USA – We continue to find inspirational leaders in our own backyard and last month we were excited to interview Elsie Hernandez - the founder and CEO of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC). Elsie put her dream of building a museum on hold for over ten years while raising a family, but her determination and vision have paid off with the launch of the Haitian American Museum in Chicago. An entire community now has a voice and the city at large has a new museum that helps all Chicagoans understand and celebrate Haitian art and culture. Elsie is just the type of local leader with an international reach that we love to partner with and feature for others to learn from.

Next Newsletter

Watch our next newsletter for an exciting progress update from our partners around the world. Can't wait until the next newsletter? Get your Goldin Institute fix by jumping onto our Facebook Page for the latest news as it happens.

Srilatha Lakkaraju - Newletter Coordinator