The Commons
 Synergos News | Spring 2011

Top photo: Rosangela Berman-Bieler, an international human rights activist for persons with disabilities and a Synergos Senior Fellow, in Angola (see story).


Alliance for Global Good taps Synergos networks for innovation

photo of group with bicycles
Successful advocacy for cycling is part of Synergos Senior Fellow Lake Sagaris’ efforts to improve well-being in Santiago, Chile, particulary for residents of poor neighborhoods. With help from the Alliance for Global Good she’ll share that experience with leaders in Kenya and India.
Synergos has entered into a partnership with the Alliance for Global Good to support a number of projects created by members of our Senior Fellows and Arab World Social Innovators.

The Alliance for Global Good was founded by philanthropist Leonard Kaplan out of concern for global crises that threaten future generations. It aims to improve the practice of philanthropy by connecting donors with high-quality programs. “Every initiative we support must fulfill five critical criteria: innovation, leverage, scalability, collaboration, and sustainability,” says David M. Brand, the Alliance’s President and CEO.

As part of this approach, it has tapped Synergos – as well as Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Hunt Alternatives Fund, The Reut Institute, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev – for our extensive networks and experience in sustainable, innovative approaches to development challenges.

One project aims to create healthier, more resilient urban communities by building upon the strengths of three organizations in three countries: Ciudad Viva (Chile), the African Institute for Health & Development (AHID – Kenya), and Chintan (India). Ciudad Viva has expanded the use of bicycles as a low-cost, environment-friendly and health-promoting solution in urban planning. Chintan promotes urban recycling and the well-being of waste pickers, transporters and recyclers, who are among the most marginalized in New Delhi. AHID focuses on health and nutrition awareness and advocacy in poor urban settlements. The project will start with exchanges among leaders of these organizations – who are all Synergos Senior Fellows – to share and document successes in order to raise each organization’s capacity in health, the environment, and advocacy. The broader goal is to replicate successful initiatives across these countries, and to lay the groundwork for a partnership among these organizations on a large-scale initiative.

Eleven nonprofit leaders join Senior Fellows network
Recruiting opens for next class of Fellows

Eleven outstanding nonprofit leaders have been named Synergos Senior Fellows, joining a network of 100 other Fellows from almost forty countries.

Fellows are selected based on their vision for change, skills, knowledge, experience, and the impact of their work on the communities and countries they serve. The overall goal our Fellows program is to strengthen the capacity and opportunities of these leaders to build partnerships that address the systemic causes of poverty and promote sustainable social change.

photo of women marching
Synergos Senior Fellow Lily Thapa (center, in black) works for human rights of widows and other women in Nepal.

One of the new Fellows is Lily Thapa, Founder of Women for Human Rights in Nepal. Her organization helps to bring widows, many of whom are young wives of casualties in Nepal’s eleven-year insurgency, out of isolation and dependency on their husbands’ families and connects them with each other in groups that are building their economic and political strength throughout Nepal.

See list of new Senior Fellows.

Robert H. Dunn, Synergos’ President and CEO, commented, “These new Fellows bring to our network expertise and experience in issues ranging from agriculture to peace-building to gender equality and human rights. They all recognize the importance of bridging divides and bringing together diverse stakeholder groups in society to make lasting change. They’re a great addition to Synergos. I’m hopeful their fellowship experience will be as rewarding as those of their predecessors and that it will greatly increase the impact of their work.”

Recruiting is underway for our next class of Fellows. We are looking for leaders who have a demonstrable commitment to addressing the systemic, root causes of poverty and inequity, and present a compelling vision for change in their area of work. Fellows must be in a full-time, senior leadership position of a non-profit, non-governmental organization that focuses on poverty alleviation, social justice or community development. The deadline for applications is July 1, 2011.

Get 2012 Senior Fellow application materials.

Public health initiative in Namibia raises national capacity

As part of the African Health Leadership Initiative in Namibia, Synergos has continued our offerings of leadership development opportunities to government officials and health workers in that country. Recent examples include a one-and-a-half day Management Development Forum for 100 people from the Ministry of Health and Social Services, a two-day orientation session for regional health officials as part of the expansion of the Initiative to eight additional regions of the country, and coaching with the senior leaders of the Ministry.

As one doctor from a regional team put it during a learning journey Synergos organized:

“I have been sitting in my office for the past eight years, attending to patients in and out of my office. I never had the time to sit down and think about their situation. I am seeing my clients with fresh eyes, because this week I went to places I have never been before, and talked to people I have never met. [I am] looking at the world through their eyes. I will go back [to work] renewed!”

Learn more about the African Public Health Leadership Initiative.

Second class of Arab World Social Innovators chosen

photoMaysoun Odeh Gangat of 96 NISAA FM, the first commercial radio station focused on meeting the interests and needs of women in the Middle East, is a new Synergos Arab World Social Innovator.

Synergos has chosen fifteen exceptional leaders as our second class of Synergos Arab World Social Innovators. These remarkable men and women are founders of businesses and civil society organizations working to improve the well-being of people and communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates.

Program Partners and Supporters
Arabtec Holdings
Azm for Development
Cherie Blair Foundation
Emirates Sunland Group PalTel
Emirates Investments Group LLC
Kele Contracting LLC
Pearl Mall Fzc LLC

The Social Innovators program is based on the belief that sustainable change can be achieved by empowering local leaders and organizations, and strengthening the capacity of local institutions. To this end, Synergos offers each of the Innovators – who include seven women – a financial award as well as opportunities to participate in workshops trainings, and formal mentorships, and to access our global network of business, philanthropic, government and civil society leaders.

One of the new Social Innovators is Maysoun Odeh Gangat, who established the first English radio station in Palestine and Israel, RAM FM, which was modeled after a station built in apartheid South Africa. She now leads 96 NISAA FM, the first commercial radio station focused on meeting the interests and needs of women in the Middle East. Other areas of work of the Innovators include health, children’s education, youth leadership, women’s rights, the environment, philanthropy, and sustainable tourism.

See full list of Social Innovators.

Samer Abu Ltaif of Microsoft and Peggy Dulany of Synergos.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women is working with Synergos in this effort, providing training and mentoring to the female Social Innovators from both the new class and the first class, which began in 2007.

Software giant Microsoft is also providing assistance, in the form of information and communications technology, to members of this second class of Synergos Arab World Social Innovators. Samer Abu-Ltaif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf said:

“Promoting entrepreneurship has always been an integral part of Microsoft’s broader mission across the Gulf to promote social and economic development. The Arab World Social Innovator’ Program gives us a unique opportunity to help individuals through access to our world-class tools, technologies and market resources to help bring new ideas, ventures and innovations to life.”

At a celebratory launch of the Microsoft-Synergos effort, His Excellency Sheikh Tariq Al Qassimi, who chairs the AWSI program, said:

“The collaboration with Microsoft is to establish a vibrant and sustainable network of entrepreneurs across the region.”

Read more about Microsoft’s support.

Read more about the Arab World Social Innovators program.



Maryam Bibi profiled by Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera looked at the work of Maryam Bibi, founder and Chief Executive of Khwendo Kor and a Synergos Senior Fellow, supporting development of women, girls, and strong families in very difficult circumstances in remote areas of Pakistan. Among the challenges faced are Taliban bombings, kidnappings and domestic violence. As a consequence her programs connect work on women’s education, peace and development. Today Khwendo Kor runs over 200 schools in tribal areas, and is able to continue its work despite threats of violence due to its strong community links.

Ahp-cii-uk partnership nominated for Canada’s Premier Award

The Aboriginal Leadership Initiative, known locally as Ahp-Cii-Uk, has been named a regional finalist for Canada’s Premier’s Awards. Synergos helped First Nations, government, civil society organizations, and academics come together to establish this effort to improve quality of life for Canada’s Aboriginal people, starting in three communities on Vancouver Island.

To learn more, read about the launch of the initiative or visit

University for a Night honors Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Jennifer and Peter Buffett

University for a Night plenary discussion
Above: University for a Night plenary discussion on “changing the world by changing the lives of women and girls” with (left to right), Peggy Dulany of Synergos, H.E. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi of the African Women's Development Fund, and Jennifer Buffett of the NoVo Foundation.

More than 250 leaders from the worlds of philanthropy, business, and international development came together this spring at Synergos’ annual University for a Night.

Event Champions and Partners
Carlos and Natalia Bulgheroni
Charles Butt
Peggy Dulany
Dorian Goldman and Marvin Israelow
Katja Goldman and Michael Sonnenfeldt
Vincent and Anne Mai
David Rockefeller
The Rockefeller Foundation
Kim Samuel Johnson
(see list of all supporters)

This year, the opening plenary focused on the concept of changing the world by changing the lives of women and girls. H.E. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi of the African Women’s Development Fund and Jennifer Buffett of the NoVo Foundation shared their experience promoting philanthropy that engages and empowers women. As Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi put it:

“We are dealing with structures and processes and systems that have been put in place over millennia... [but] we are not fighting men or fighting with men; we are fighting systems and structures that are dominated by men and also a few women who benefit from that. It’s essential for us to bring together people who are working in different levels and at different spaces, the community leaders, the religious leaders, the policymakers, the journalists, the union leaders and my countrymen, a whole range of people who can then enable us to transform the conversations that we have on a day-to-day basis and recreate the identities that tell us that we can’t have choices just because we happen to be women.”

Peter Buffett at podium
Peter Buffett.

Jennifer Buffett added perspective on the role of external philanthropists, saying “[B]ridging [is something] that needs to go on that we really value and try to do in our funding” and that the key way to have an impact as a donor is “to give voice to populations and people you’re trying to serve.”

Both Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi and Jennifer and Peter Buffett were also honored with the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards. Peter Buffett took the occasion to decry the extent to which adolescent girls are undervalued, and call for investing in girls as a high-impact approach to creating a better world for everyone.

The evening concluded with dinner discussions exploring a wide range of innovative approaches to poverty, malnutrition, education, health, environment, conflict, and other critical global issues.

See plenary discussion transcript, highlight video and photos

Global Philanthropists Circle and Senior Fellows hold annual meetings in New York

Members of Synergos’ two global networks – the Senior Fellows and Global Philanthropists Circle – came together in New York in April for their annual meetings.

First was a cross-network Education Forum, which brought together over 50 participants working in over 20 countries. The overall focus of the event was partnerships among communities, government and schools to improve education. Through real-time consulting and other exercises, participants explored specific initiatives including creating high-performing public schools through partnerships with the private and nonprofit sector in Argentina and Morocco, gaining government support for private educational models in Ghana, and developing schools and curriculums to help students succeed in rapidly changing economies.

discussion at GPC Annual Meeting
Nii Gilbert, a member of Synergos’s Board of Directors with Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix at the GPC Annual Meeting.

The Global Philanthropists Circle came together on April 5 for its annual meeting. The event also marked the tenth anniversary celebration of the Circle, and as such the program featured a look at developments in philanthropy in that period and in the future. Among topics discussed were the role of philanthropy in democracy movements (such as those in the Middle East), how philanthropy can help promote social inclusion, and new models of social investment. The event concluded with a conversation with Peter and Jennifer Buffett on family and social engagement.

The Senior Fellows Global Meeting from April 6-9 focused on the broad theme of inclusion, examining challenges to including typically marginalized parts of society in development partnerships. It also offered opportunities for Fellows to share expertise and ideas with each other through real-time consulting sessions and peer learning sessions. These sessions addressed topics ranging from board development to popular education to creating a knowledge center for women.

Discussions at these events are continuing on Synergos’ social network sites for the Global Philanthropists Circle and Senior Fellows.

photo of group of Fellows
Some participants in the Senior Fellows Global Meeting.

Time magazine recognizes GPC Members Ron Bruder, Ray Chambers among world’s 100 most influential people

Ron Bruder speaking
Ron Bruder shared his perspectives on developments in philanthropy and the role of the Global Philanthropists Circle at the GPC’ Annual Meeting.

Ron Bruder was lauded for his accomplishments with the Education for Employment Foundation by Time magazine, which stated:

“At a moment when the Middle East is being transformed by a tidal wave of young people adept at using Facebook and Twitter, Bruder is teaching them even more essential skills – how to find and keep productive jobs when the protests are over.”

Read Time article about Ron Bruder

Ray Chambers was recognized for his work fighting malaria around the world, through his nonprofit organization Malaria No More, through his service on the board of Population Services International (the world’s largest distributor of antimalaria mosquito nets), and his role as U.N. Special Envoy for Malaria.

Read Time article about Ray Chambers



Interview with GPC Member Güler Sabancı: Setting a New Course for Turkish Philanthropy

photo of
Güler Sabancı and David Rockefeller at the 2011 Global Philanthropists Circle Annual Meeting.

The January-February issue of Global Giving Matters features an interview with Güler Sabancı, who, as the Financial Times put it, “is more than chairwoman of one of Turkey’s largest corporations. She is also an important force in the country’s political, social and cultural life.” She’s also a key player in Turkey’s philanthropic sector, chairing both the Sabancı Foundation and Sabancı University. Peggy Dulany, Synergos’ founder, says, “[Güler] is a model for all business leaders not only in Turkey but around the world -- and an inspiration for other women.” The interview touches on issues including the Sabancı Foundation’s focus on women and girls, the importance of evaluation, and the state of philanthropy in Turkey.

Read interview with Güler Sabancı.

Interview with Senior Fellow Rosangela Berman-Bieler: Building social bridges by offering facilitation, not control

A Synergos Senior Fellow from Brazil, Rosangela Berman-Bieler is an international human rights activist for persons with disabilities. She founded the Inter-American Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development and was recently appointed as UNICEF Senior Adviser on Children with Disabilities. In an interview, she shares insights on her journey promoting human rights after quadriplegia caused by a car accident in 1976. In talking about her work she says, “It is not that easy to build real and effective bridges that go beyond just sporadic interactivity. It requires a focused effort, persistence and a dose of generosity, by offering facilitation – not control.”

Read interview with Rosangela Berman-Bieler.

Case studies of Synergos Consulting Services available

Synergos Consulting Services partners with global corporations to build sustainable businesses and create social impact in the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. One example of this work is in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a Fortune Global 500 leader in the food and beverage products industry is seeking to accelerate business growth in emerging markets and to expand its portfolio of healthy foods. Synergos conducted stakeholder research and a field immersion exercise to enable the company’s leaders to refine their product, marketing and social engagement strategies.

Learn more about this effort in Africa (PDF).

Get examples of other cases in sectors including healthcare, food and personal care products, and community health.



Synergos thanks our donors, who help make our work possible. Listed below are donors who gave to Synergos from January 1 through May 20, 2011. We hope that you will join them in supporting our work.

Aga Khan Foundation
Hussein Adam Ali
Alliance for Global Good
Omar Amanat
Kayrita M. Anderson
The Loreen Arbus Foundation
Alberto and Tere Baillères and Family
Maria Rosa and Roberto Baquerizo
Edward and Sharon Bergman
Stanley and Marion Bergman
Katherine Bierce
David Bohnett Foundation
William Bohnett
Maria Matilde Bonetti
Boricua College
Amy and Ed Brakeman
James M. Brasher III
Magalen O. Bryant and Family
Carlos and Natalia Bulgheroni
Charles Butt
Raymond Chambers and the MCJ Amelior Foundation
Changing Our World, Inc
Petr Chitipakhovyan and Family
Alan Detheridge
Ana Maria Diniz
Donner Canadian Foundation
Peggy Dulany
Robert H. Dunn
Jodie Evans
Corinne Evens
Alan Fleischmann and Dafna Tapiero
Garcés and Echavarria Family
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dorian Goldman and Marvin Israelow
Katja Goldman and Michael Sonnenfeldt
Mimi Haas
Scott and Sally Harrison
Heller Family Foundation
William and Flora Hewlett Family
Jerry Hirsch and Family
Johannson Family
JPMorgan Chase
Patricia Kahane and Family
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Uday Khemka
Kimberly Kreiling
Alykhan Lalani
Sebastien Laye
Jon Ledecky
John P. Lennon
Jerome and Kenneth Lipper Foundation
George and Nitzia Logothetis
Suzanne Longley
Laura Lopez
Oscar Lopez


Vincent and Anne Mai
Mannheim, LLC
Marcela Manubens
Marga Incorporated
Dulce María Martínez-Gama
Strive Masiyiwa
Janet A. McKinley
Mora McLean
Fondation Mérieux
Peter Miscovich
The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Marcos A. de Moraes
Precious and Patrice Motsepe
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Enrique Muñoz
Abby and George O'Neill
Tom Oliver
Open Society Institute
Ayşen and Hüsnü Özyeğin
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation
Martin Ping
Alexandra Quintana
Marie Rautenberg
Tom Rautenberg
Michael and Brigitte Rennie
David Rockefeller
Rockefeller Financial
The Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Carlos and Gabriela Rodríguez-Pastor
Mark Rubin
Shelley and Donald Rubin
Güler Sabanci
Kim Samuel Johnson
Deval Sanghavi
Carol and Alan Schwartz
Tsugiko and William Scullion
Sesame Workshop
Shared Interest
Adele Simmons
Gordon V. Smith
Theodore and Vada Stanley and Family
Susan Taylor
Laura Thorn
Robert Timpson and Peregrine Whittlesey
Sarah L. Timpson
Tse Foundation
United Nations Foundation
Venturos Inc
Michaela Walsh
John C. Whitehead
Judy Wicks
Monica Winsor and Josh Mailman
Jin Zidell



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