by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting
The first Biennial of the Americas is taking place in Denver the entire month of July. My colleague, Julia Alvarez, and I recently attended a session called The Americas Roundtable on Philanthropy: Private and Public Collaboration. It fulfilled its goal of bringing together world leaders, dignitaries and industry experts for thought-provoking dialogue focused on common challenges and joint opportunities. What was amazing to me is that no matter what Western hemisphere country was discussed, everyone agreed on a common approach to solving community problems: bring together the private, public and Third sectors and challenges can be tackled. To elaborate a bit more on these sectors, the private sector includes businesses, the public sector includes government and the Third Sector includes foundations and nonprofits, also called Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
One representative of the private sector was Lisa Quiroz, Vice President for Corporate Responsibility at Time Warner. Quiroz spoke passionately about the United States and its citizens’ commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism. Her comments really spoke to the patriotism that always peaks around the Fourth of July and her acknowledgment that the U.S. is fortunate to have a culture of volunteerism that lends itself to many people volunteering their time, sharing their treasure and spreading their talent to further worthwhile causes, really hit home.
The United States government was represented by leaders at three levels: Secretary Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Colorado Governor Bill Ritter; and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. All three are inspiring speakers, yet Secretary Donovan was a special standout, asserting that it is not our country’s job to tell others around the world how to solve the challenges they face, but rather to share the lessons we have learned. According to Donovan, the current administration is aware that our world is increasingly interconnected and that “this is the moment to rise to meet challenges together.”
Two unique individuals represented the Third Sector, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, and Latin Grammy Award winner, Fonseca. According to the Nobel Prize Web site, Ms. Menchú Tum was born on January 9, 1959 to a poor Indian peasant family and raised in the Quiche branch of the Mayan culture. She was an organizer in the resistance to oppression in Guatemala and the struggle for Indian peasant rights. In 1992, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the roundtable, she talked about the critical importance of “joint missions” where everyday people work alongside government and businesses to support solutions from the bottom up.
Juan Fernando Fonseca is an internationally renowned signer from Colombia who is working on leadership development with youth for the dual purpose of giving youth hope and spurring economic development in Colombia in the years to come.
Whether the program is to help youth, the economy or a combination there of, Ms. Menchú Tum summarized it well, “When we work with the people who have needs, we get a new perspective. This is important. We can’t do this alone. We need money/materials, community and spirituality.”
It would be amazing if all of the great ideas presented at the Biennial of the America’s can spur more investment in multisector collaborations to address challenges all over the Western hemisphere. Leave a comment and let us know your suggestions for how the three sectors can collaborate.