A place for expanded conversation on topics of interest to Friendship Force International clubs and members

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Update from Recent Board Meeting

Dear Friendship Force Club Leaders,
Earlier this month, the Friendship Force International Board of Directors met for the 76th time in our history to discuss, among regular business, the current state of the Friendship Force mission worldwide.  There is no doubt that our mission of “promoting global understanding across the barriers that separate people” continues to be an important calling for all of our clubs and members, as evidenced by the hundreds of delegations and thousands of ambassadors forging new friendships through the Friendship Force each year.  We speak for the entirety of the Board when we say we are honored to be working hand-in-hand with you as we continue to seek realization of the full potential of our mission.  Your presence was felt in every conversation and decision made throughout the weekend.
Perhaps more important than any specific decisions made throughout the weekend was the depth of the discussion around each of the topics presented.  Building on the messages about FFI’s financial position shared during the Vancouver Conference in 2015 is a heightened awareness that the decisions we make now may profoundly influence our organization’s success in the future.  To that end, there was an intentional effort to keep the long-term goals of the organization in mind while we wrestled with acute issues mostly related to our currently stable but tenuous financial position.

Bringing clarity to the Board’s role in organizational governance, as well as accountability to how we move forward, was a significant focus of the weekend's activities:

  • The Strategy Committee has been reconstructed and is now called theStrategy and Innovation Steering Committee. In addition to its original purpose of overseeing the progress of the strategic plan and its eight initiatives, this committee will also help organize and assess the impact of several pilot initiatives launched in the past 24 months.  This committee is also charged with vetting new initiatives and ensuring that the mission of Friendship Force isn’t compromised, but enhanced and strengthened by these endeavors. 
  • The Board approved the creation of a Policy Review Committee whose purpose is to work with staff in resolving several current issues related to the wording, contradictions, and general confusion around some parts of the club and exchange policies.  With the thanks to many of you for forwarding your concerns related to club policies to Jeremi, the Committee has already begun in earnest to present clarifications to the Board at their next meeting. 
  • Recognizing the need for a concerted effort to devise a fund-raising philosophy, a fund development plan, and to help align the existing Legacy Fund with the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan, the Board unanimously approved the creation of a Fund Development Committee.
 In addition to a comprehensive update on the database and website project, the Board also spoke extensively about the need to elevate worldwide awareness for the Friendship Force and about how the launch of the revised website is one such opportunity to project a refreshed presence of our organization to the world.  Presentations by FFI staff touched on ways to clean up the Friendship Force brand that will be implemented this year, as well as new communication tools currently in development to help bring the worldwide Friendship Force family a little closer together.

Over the next several months, more details and news about actions being taken by Friendship Force Board and staff will be shared.  In the meantime, and if there was one message received and reciprocated during this most recent Board meeting, we must begin to take action in 2016.

In friendship,
Jeremi Snook, CEO and Bob Duncan, Board Chair

2016 Friendship Force International Board of Directors

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Note of Thanks...

(L-R) Colin Ridge, Heather Ponder,
Jeremi Snook, Debbie Lattey, Ross Stevens
Now fully recovered from traveling, I wanted to send this open letter to all the clubs and members in New Zealand and Australia expressing my sincerest thanks and appreciation for your warm welcome and hospitality. A specific note of gratitude to both the conference organizers and attendees who made their way to New Plymouth and the Blue Mountains.  

Although both New Zealand and Australia national conferences are distinct in their own way, experienced together within a two-week spread provided for me an authentic and unique engagement with what makes Friendship Force so spectacular.  While home hosted throughout my stay in New Zealand, I had the privilege of experiencing just a taste of what hundreds of others have experienced around the world during their inaugural visits down-under - kindhearted-ness, genuineness and a keen interest in connecting and forging new relationships.  Many who met me for the first time in New Zealand know that I also brought with me a cold that took more than a few days to get over. I shook that cold off, however, (thanks to the care from so many on that trip) making room to take back with me fond memories of so many of you. The experience in the Australian Blue Mountains was no different. I will not only take with me a few new square dancing moves, but also the memory of your several stories and spirit - trademarks, I am learning, of Friendship Force members. 

I hope that all those who participated in the conferences took something back with them; I know I did. Impossible as it is to distill the experience to any single thought or nugget of wisdom, I leave you instead with a lasting impression.  After my plane departed Sydney and I looked out the window at the fading coastline, I wrote in my journal that I now fully understood what makes Friendship Force so powerful - each and every one of you!

Thank you both New Plymouth and Blue Mountain clubs for hosting outstanding conferences and for sharing your knowledge, best practices, and inspiration with all of us. 

Until we see each other again, in Friendship, 


Jeremi with FF Mount Barker, the first FF club in Australia