Some reflections on my four years as ICAI President

strategic directions

Happy New Year! It is 4 years since my first New Year’s message as ICAI President in the Global Buzz and my term is now complete and I have handed over to my very capable successor Lisseth Lorenzo. I am looking forward to continuing my involvement with ICAI this year as webmaster, looking after the ICAI website and social media. In the meantime, further to my final column in the November issue of Winds & Waves magazine Looking Back & Forward, I would like to share a few reflections on my term as President – some of our achievements that I am proud of, and some of my own hopes for ICAI’s future.

Most of all I am proud that we have succeeded, I think, in raising our ambition as a Board and as a global community, and I hope that that will continue.  That was my aim in convening a face-to-face meeting of our virtual Board in May 2015, at which we articulated the three Strategic Directions by which I have structured my reflections.

ICAI Board 2015 in Tanzania1. Fostering global connections and & collaboration to support ICAs to thrive

I am proud that our global network has experienced a resurgence in numbers, with now 24 current statutory members and no less than 9 new Associate members welcomed by the General Assembly since 2012. I hope that ICAI will continue to attract increasing involvement and commitment of all ICAs, partners and others that share our mission and values.

I am proud that all five of our regions worldwide have now established a pattern of meeting annually face-to-face, and some regularly online as well, and that these regional gatherings are increasingly including more ICAs and ICA colleagues and supporting greater connectedness and collaboration.  I hope that this will continue, and that it will extend to enable also face-to-face capacity building between regions and by means of a new ICAI Global Conference on Human Development.

I am proud that members have connected and collaborated substantially by means of several new ICAI global working groups since 2012, in addition to the pre-existing global Publications team and the global Board nominations committee. New groups have worked on global policy for ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology, on options for the next ICAI Global Conference and on collaboration with the International Association of Facilitators, and in participating in UN processes by means of ICAI’s UN consultative status. I hope that these and other global working groups will continue to encourage and support such ‘peer-to-peer’ support and collaboration among ICAs and between ICAs and new global partners.

I am proud that the new ICAI website launched in 2015 provides a versatile and engaging platform for member ICAs and ICA colleagues to communicate with each other and with the wider world.  I hope that more and more ICAs and ICA colleagues will find it worth their while to make use of it and its integrated social media, and that I will have more time as webmaster than I did as President to support them to do so – and to further develop it to better meet their needs. I hope that better integrating Winds & Waves magazine and our monthly bulletin the Global Buzz with our website and social media will enable and encourage more contributions and more readers, and greater connectedness and collaboration as a result, and that I will be able to support that as webmaster.

2. Boosting ICAI resilience and safeguarding the integrity of our global community

I am proud that we have clarified and refined criteria and procedures for ICAI membership since 2012, for both statutory and associate membership, and established a global membership survey by which members may hold themselves accountable to each other against those criteria.  I hope that that survey may be repeated annually by means of the online forms integrated with the new website, and that roles and curriculum or other materials will also be developed by which ICAs may better support each other and new members in meeting the criteria and demonstrating to each other that they do so.

I am proud that our global Board has developed effective teamwork and governance practices, notwithstanding the challenges of working as a diverse virtual team on a minimal budget. These include renewed Bylaws, monthly online Board meetings & bi-annual online General Assemblies, and responsible financial management including financial support for member initiatives.  I hope that the new Board will meet face-to-face early in 2017 to re-establish itself as a new team, and to develop a new strategy and business plan by which we all might continue to raise our ambitions further.  I hope that members will approve and contribute generously to a new ICAI budget that allows for that meeting, and for additional financial support for member initiatives including face-to-face capacity building and global strategy development.

3. Recognising & leveraging ICA wisdom and nurturing new leadership

I am proud that ICAI has been able to use its communication channels to share and amplify members’ approaches, achievements & learnings, and that these plus our global working groups, online and regional gatherings are indeed helping to nurture our collective global wisdom and new leadership.  I hope that members will collaborate globally to develop and apply a new global curriculum and materials by which to better share and leverage both historic and new ICA wisdom & leadership globally.

I am proud to have served as President these past four years, and to be able to leave such a strong and capable Board with strong and capable new leadership.  I am grateful to all my colleagues on the Board and in our wider membership, for all their support and participation in our collective efforts to ‘advance human development worldwide’.

I can be contacted now at webmaster@ica-international.org and via www.martingilbraith.com. Emails addressed to president@ica-international.org are now received by Lisseth.


This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, January 2017.

ICAI welcomes a new Associate member in Poland!

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, November 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


anna-zaremba-1200x900Seventeen representatives of 11 member ICAs of our global network participated in two online General Assembly meetings on October 20, and 16 of 24 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following ten days to 30 October.  Thank you again to all who participated!

As a result of the GA we are pleased to welcome another new Associate member to ICAI, nominated by ICA:UK with the support of ICA Ukraine & ICA Netherlands and approved unanimously by the GA – Focus Homini Poland is a newly constituted group of five ICA colleagues working to establish ICA in Poland – the photo shows Anna Zaremba facilitating at one of the group’s Warsaw facilitation meetups.

Also as a result of the GA we are pleased to congratulate Archana Deshmukh of ICA India and Gerd Luders of ICA Chile, who have been unanimously elected to our global Board from January (from 2017-20), and to Seva Gandhi of ICA USA who has been re-elected to serve another two years (2017-18).  Archana and Gerd will succeed Martin Gilbraith of ICA:UK and Staci Kentish of ICA Canada, who will complete their terms this December.

During the GA meetings members also received brief narrative & financial reports from the Board, and deliberated on the ICAI 2017-18 budget, the Board nominations process and options for a future ICAI global conference.

ICA International Board update, September 2016

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, September 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


1608 ICA E&S AFrica 720x480At our August meeting the ICAI Board approved three applications for financial support from members. The first was to support the ICA East & Southern Africa regional gathering and ToP facilitation training hosted by ICA Uganda in August – see photo, with thanks to Larry Philbrook. The second was to support the ICA Asia Pacific regional gathering and training to be hosted by ICA India in December. The third was for purchase of a World Foundations Guide for use by members.

The Board is expecting an application soon for the West & Central Africa ICA regional gathering to be hosted by ICA Togo in October. Board members agreed to consult with members in their regions to help to arrange an additional French speaking ToP trainer to provide ToP training in conjunction with the gathering.

The Board heard that groups in Poland and France are working toward submitting applications to join our global network as Associate Members at the next General Assembly on October 20. We heard that several individuals in the Philippines have expressed an interest in re-connecting with ICA and perhaps re-establishing ICA there.

The Board heard that the new joint working group of ICAI and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) had held its first meeting and begun its work of exploring opportunities for great mutual interchange, co-ordination and collaboration between our two organisations and facilitation communities.

The Board reviewed the Board election process and papers that had been prepared by the Board nominations and elections committee in preparation for elections at the October 20 General Assembly. Board members confirmed their own intentions on completing their terms, standing for re-election or standing down. Board members will support the committee in soliciting nominations for candidates directly with members in their regions.

ICAI General Assembly welcomes new Associate member in India

HCDI CFCDP
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, July 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


Twenty-two representatives of 14 member ICAs of our global network participated in two online General Assembly meetings on June 23, and 17 of 22 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following 10 days to 3 July.  Thank you to all who participated!

As a result of the GA, we are pleased to welcome another new Associate member to ICAI, nominated by ICA Japan with the support of ICA IndiaICA Bangladesh and the Asia Pacific region and approved unanimously by the GA – Holistic Child Development India (HCDI) is a long-term partner of ICA Japan in Bihar.

During the GA meetings we heard updates from ICAI and from the regions, and from those members present. We deliberated on recommendations of the ICAI Global ToP (Technology of Participation) policy working group – to establish internationally recognized ToP trainer competencies and criteria, to build ToP trainer training capacity globally, to develop global ToP resource repositories and to set up a global ToP co-ordination structure. We also deliberated on options for a next ICAI Global Conference, and we heard of strengthening relations between ICA and Initiatives of Change as a potential conference partner, particularly in Asia and in Europe.

The Board consulted with members on options for the 2017  ICAI budget, and on plans for ICAI Board elections at the next GA in October. Nominations to join the Board elections & nominations committee are now invited from members.

Climate Change

This article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, December 2015 issue.W&W 1215-cover 1000x667Welcome to this December 2015 issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International, entitled “Climate Change”.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) was so named, when first separately incorporated in 1973, to reflect its social mission of ‘human development’. This was to restore balance to the social process by strengthening the weak cultural (meaning-giving) dynamic in society, relative to the dominant economic and allied political dynamics that provide sustenance and order.

The wider context for the social process, now as then, is the natural environment of our planet. As the environmental impacts of our still-unbalanced social process have escalated, and become more clearly understood, so ICAs have increasingly sought to broaden their global perspective to include the environmental as well as the social and the spirit dimensions of human development.  Reflecting this trend, former CEO of ICA USA Terry Bergdall describes ICA’s mission in his 2015 ICA Handbook as ‘to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth’.

COP21: Thousands join London climate change march, November 29

This issue is published in the month that 196 parties to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference have negotiated a global agreement on the reduction of climate change at ‘COP21’ in Paris – an extraordinary achievement, and the result of an extra-ordinary process. The conference was preceded on 28-29 November by worldwide civil society actions, intended to ‘send a message to world leaders in Paris’, involving over 785,000 people and 2,300 events in over 175 countries according to 350.org.

Many have remarked on the radical transformation of our global economy, and therefore also of our politics and culture, that will be required for us to achieve even the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C) compared to pre-industrial levels, let alone the more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees that was also agreed in Paris. This certainly represents a daunting challenge. Like every crisis, however, climate change represents an opportunity as well. To paraphrase Naomi Klein in ‘This Changes Everything’, referenced here by Richard & Maria Maguire in Australia, climate change presents the clearest and most compelling case we could wish for that such a transformation of the social process is indeed required, and in the interests of all of us, urgently. With the Paris agreement of the world’s governments now in place, both the challenge and the opportunity for civil society is clear. As our own ICA mantra has it, “These are the times” and “We are the people”.

In this issue you will find stories of how ICAs and ICA colleagues participated in those climate actions in November, and how they are responding to climate change in their work more broadly, in Australia and the USA, and in Canada, DRC & Peru. You will also find stories of how the social process has unfolded over 40 years in communities that hosted some of ICA’s original Human Development Projects of the 1970s in Chile, Guatemala, and Indonesia & Malaysia.

As usual, this issue includes stories of a variety of methods and approaches to human development around the world.  These include facilitating conciliation in Ukraine, transformational action planning in Taiwan and facilitation learning labs in Hong Kong; story telling and oral history in the USA and the Torres Strait Islands of Australia; philanthropy in India and micro-enterprise in Chile; medical support in DRC and impact assessment in Kenya; Montessori pre-school education in Sri Lanka and youth volunteering in Tajikistan; and dialogues, book studies and reflective blogging online.

You will also find book reviews on personal transformation and sexuality in India, on social transformation and gender in Nepal and on dynamic ageing in the USA; plus reflections from Venezuela on ‘swimming with the current’ and social chaos, from Japan on the evolution of leadership styles and from Ukraine on culture and organisation development.

ICA International has been delighted to be able to support a upsurge of face-to-face regional gatherings of ICAs this year, first of East & Southern Africa in Tanzania May and then (reported in this issue) of West Africa in Cote D’Ivoire in September, Europe MENA  in the Netherlands in November and Asia Pacific in India in December. We are looking forward to a regional gathering of the Americas in Peru in April, and keen to support all the regions to expand and deepen their regional and inter-regional interchange next year.

We are delighted to welcome two new Associate members to ICA International, both approved unanimously by our online General Assembly this month.  SCR Kenya and NCOC Kenya were both nominated by ICA Kenya with the support of ICA Uganda and ICA Tanzania, and both are led by long-time colleagues of ICA in Kenya.

We are grateful to the 28 ICAs who have responded recently to our global survey on members’ usage of, capacity for and aspirations for ToP (Technology of Participation) facilitation methods, and to the ICAI Global ToP working group that is analysing the responses in order to make recommendations for peer-to-peer support and collaboration among ICAs in implementing our new global ToP policy.  We urge members that have not yet responded to continue to do so – please contact us to ask for a link to the online survey form.

We are also grateful to the ICAI Global Conference working group for its work with Initiatives of Change (IofC) exploring possibilities for a joint conference in Human Development at IofC Caux in Switzerland or elsewhere, now perhaps in 2017 or 2018.

We are grateful as ever to the tireless editorial team of Winds & Waves itself, who work so hard to enable us to share these stories and insights on human development  in this magazine three times each year.  I echo the appeal of Peter Ellins in this issue – please do contribute to the magazine next year, and please contact us if you may be interested in joining the team to support with commissioning, reporting, editing, layout and design, social media, or in any other way.

Thank you finally to our contributors and our readers, and to all our members, partners and colleagues ‘advancing human development worldwide’.  I wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who are celebrating them.

Enjoy this issue, and please share it and encourage others to do so!

ICAI Board report to the December General Assembly

strategic directionsThis short report to the upcoming  online  meetings of the ICAI General Assembly (GA) on 10 December was prepared to summarise the ICAI Board‘s activity since the last GA in July, relative to the 3 strategic directions of our 2015-16 strategy:

Fostering Global Connections & Collaboration to Support ICAs to Thrive

Support Peer-to-Peer Collaboration & Capacity Building

Facilitate Inclusive Global Communications

  • We have supported the Global Communications team to produce regular issues of Winds & Waves (W&W) magazine and the monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, and amplified distribution on social media
  • We have developed and launched a new website in WordPress and enabled member ICAs to post and update their own ICA Worldwide profiles and news updates – 11 ICA profiles updated to date, and W&W and Buzz updates cross-posted to the website
  • We have grown the ICAI presence on Facebook & Twitter and integrated them with the website
  • We have used the ICA Global channel on Youtube to host weekly online dialogues on development and disability, and  other topics

Gather, Synthesize & Share Info/Data of Value to our Membership

  • We have surveyed the global membership on their ToP facilitation capacity, use and aspirations for the Global ToP working group – 28 responses received to date

Develop & Strengthen Global Partnerships

  • We have agreed in principle to enter into a global partnership with IAF, and invited the Global ToP working group to respond to IAF’s draft Memorandum of Understanding

Boosting ICAI Resilience and Safeguarding the Integrity of our Global Community

Strengthen Organizational Resilience & Sustainability

  • We are developing more robust financial management and reporting systems – for this reason invoicing (and therefore payment) of member’s dues has been delayed, however all are now invoiced
  • We have received the investments that were left to ICAI as a legacy last year

Safeguard the Integrity of the Global Membership

  • We have welcomed 3 new members approved at July GA – SNF Uganda, ORP Korea & EPDI Nigeria
  • We have supported members & applicants for memberships to complete nomination papers for 2 new Associate members, NCOC Kenya & SCR Kenya
  • We have continued to work with prospective applicants in Russia (Moscow & Siberia), Poland, France & the Philippines
  • We have supported colleagues of NIRADO Nigeria and Itereleng Itereleng ICA South Africa working on renewing ICAs on those countries

Recognizing & Leveraging ICA Wisdom & Nurturing New Leadership

Recognize & Appreciate Contributions/ Achievements

  • We have regularly published available ICA news updates to new website

Strengthen and Share our Collective Wisdom & Approaches

Share & Nurture Global Leadership within the Membership

  • We have begun to prepare for ICAI Board nominations & elections process leading to election in June prior to face-to-face Board meeting at August Global Conference – may delay to election in December of Global Conference is postponed

ICA International Board update, October 2015

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, October 2015.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


home page thumbnailWe are excited to have launched the new ICAI website in September. This new site is designed to provide an engaging platform for member ICAs and ICA colleagues to communicate with each other and with the wider world. We hope that you will like it, and and that you will use it and share it!

In the launch post on the website itself  you can read an overview of some of what you can already find on the site, some of what is coming and some of what will be possible for the future.  Member ICAs have been invited to complete and update their ICA Worldwide profiles by completing a simple online form, and we encourage them to do so right away and let us know of any support that they might need.

Following decisions of the General Assembly in July, nominations have been received for member representatives to serve on the new 2016 Global Conference working group and the new Global ToP policy working group. The two new global working groups are now beginning their work.

The Board were pleased that ICAI was able to provide some small financial support for the West & Central Africa regional gathering hosted by ICA Cote D’Ivoire in September.  We hope to be able to support upcoming regional gatherings of the Asia Pacific region in India and the Europe MENA region in the Netherlands in November as well.

Many member ICAs’ annual dues become payable at this time of year, and we are grateful to all those who are responding promtply to the dues reminders that ICAI Treasurer Seva Gandhi has been circulating.