September 18, 2016

Cleveland Council on World Affairs Community Connections Program

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The Cleveland Council on World Affairs, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), invited Brian Sooy to share helpful tips for advocacy and communication campaigns, including strategies for working with target audiences to a delegation of nonprofit leaders from Belarus through the Community Connections Program.

The Cleveland Council on World Affairs, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), invited Brian Sooy to share helpful tips for advocacy and communication campaigns, including strategies for working with target audiences to a delegation of nonprofit leaders from Belarus through the Community Connections Program.

Cleveland Council on World Affairs is hosting a group of 10 nonprofit professionals from Belarus for a three-week exchange program on capacity building and organizational development.

Cleveland Council on World Affairs 2016 Belarus nonprofits Brian Sooy

CCWA welcomes 10 nonprofit professionals from Belarus who are here to examine the topic of expanding civic participation and how public-private partnerships, in conjunction with community engagement, fuel a city’s growth and development. This will be the third consecutive year CCWA has hosted this program through USAID and World Learning.

The Community Connections Program is a USAID program which offers home-stay based practical training opportunities in the U.S. for entrepreneurs, local government officials, legal professionals, non-governmental organization leaders and other professionals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The Community Connections Program is administered in Northeast Ohio by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, with funding by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at USAID.

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

Positive feedback from the Program Manager

“The Cleveland Council on World Affairs asked Brian of Aespire to create a two-hour presentation on strategic communications and marketing campaigns for a group of 10 civil society leaders from Belarus, who were traveling to Cleveland through the USAID exchange program Community Connections. Brian had worked with us on past iterations of this program, garnering high praise from prior participants, but as it was my first time managing local coordination of the program I requested to sit in and observe.
 
I was immediately impressed that Brian began his session by asking visitors about the state of trust in Belarus – between the people, government, and nonprofit civic initiatives. After receiving feedback from each visitor, Brian used these contributions from the group to make the link between communication, trust, and elevating the voices of civic initiatives – that, in essence, you need trust as a civic leader to gain a public following and create positive change.
 
Using this as the backdrop for his presentation, Brian then introduced a worksheet that would allow each visitors to create a “communication framework.” This framework exercise allowed them to identify their audience, determine appropriate messaging, and promote engagement among their audience. For the rest of the session, rather than simply lecturing, Brian empowered the visitors to reflect on their own needs and challenges through this hands-on activity and the dynamic, interactive conversation that followed. Indeed, Brian took what was originally meant to be a presentation and created a true experience for our visitors, one that was customized to them and that they will carry into the future with them as a formative moment in their professional development. Thank you Brian!”