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.

ICA International Board update, May 2016

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


At our April meeting the ICAI Board agreed a draft agenda for the upcoming June 23 online General Assembly meetings, which has now been circulated to members. As usual, two online meetings will be held at 10am & 5pm UK time to accommodate different times zones, and online voting will be by surveymonkey over the following 10 days. Please contact us if you have any additions or revisions to the agenda, and please let us have any papers to be shared (and in particular any resolutions for a vote) before the next Board meeting on May 19 so that we can circulate them soon after that.

We have also announced a change of date for our second GA meetings of the year, to be held now on October 20 instead of in December. This is to bring forward the Board election so that any new members will have a couple of months induction period before their new term begins.

Education for Global CitizenshipWe are grateful to ICA Japan Board member Shizue Inagaki for accepting the Board’s invitation to the membership to be nominated to represent ICA International at the 66th United Nations DPI NGO Conference in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea from 30 May-1 June “Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together“.  Please contact us or ICA Japan  if you would like to connect with Shizue about the conference.

Best wishes to ICAs and ICA colleagues from accross the Americas for their face-to-face regional meeting being hosted this month  by ICA Peru.

ICA International Board update, March 2016

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


At our February Board meeting we were pleased to approve a request for financial support toward the cost of an ICA Americas regional gathering to be hosted by ICA Peru in May, and another toward the cost of producing three issues of Winds & Waves magazine in 2016.

We heard updates on prospective candidates for associate membership in India, the Philippines, Poland, France, Russia and the Czech Republic, and on the work of the ICAI Global Conference working group and the ICAI global ToP (Technology of Participation) policy working group.

We approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) to promote and support greater collaboration between our two organisations, our respective members and our local groups around the world. The first step toward implementation will be to establish a joint working group comprised of three representatives each of ICAI & IAF, to identify and follow up opportunities.

We reviewed and updated our Board plans for 2016 in light of developments since our 2015-16 planning meeting in Tanzania last May.  Now that there will be no Global Conference in 2016 at which we might also convene a face-to-face Board meeting, we plan to announce Board elections at a General Assembly in October instead of June (or December).  This will enable a two month induction period for new Board members before their terms begin in January. We will explore options and costs for holding a face-to-face Board meeting in conjunction with an ICA regional gathering during that period, for induction and planning as we did last year in Tanzania, and consider including that in a revised 2016 budget for GA approval.

We invited ICAI members to collaborate to draft a statement for submission to the 15th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration on the topic “Moving from commitments to results: transforming public institutions to facilitate inclusive policy formulation and integration in the implementation and monitoring of the sustainable development goals”.  ICAI is invited to contribute a statement on account of our UN Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC.

Svetlana continues to host weekly ICAI online dialogues in google hangout, including this month a session facilitated by Martin “What is Human Development?“.

We are grateful to the many ICAs that have renewed their dues to ICAI since the General Assembly in December, and those that have updated and completed their ICA profiles on the ICAI website. We are grateful also to the 64 ICA representatives and other readers who have responded already to our Winds & Waves magazine online readership survey.

Happy New Year from the ICAI Board

Global-Buzz-banner-1000x667-641x427Happy New Year from the ICAI Board to all ICAI members, and to all ICA friends and colleagues worldwide.  We are grateful for all your support for ICA’s global mission of advancing human development in 2015, and wish you the best for all of your activities in 2016.

Fourteen representatives of 10 member ICAs participated in two online ICAI General Assembly (GA) meetings on December 10, and seven of 10 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following 10 days to December 20.  Thank you to all who participated.

As a result of the GA we are pleased to welcome two new Associate members to ICAI, both nominated by ICA Kenya with the support of ICA Tanzania and ICA Uganda, and both approved unanimously by the GA – NCOC Kenya (Nairobi Community Organisation Consultants) and SCR Kenya (Support for Community Response) are both led by long-time colleagues of ICA in Kenya.

During the GA meetings we heard updates from the ICAI Global ToP (Technology of Participation) policy working group and the ICAI Global Conference working group, and also discussed global communications and peer-to-peer support for new members of ICAI.

We are grateful to the 28 ICAs who have already responded to our recent global survey on members’ usage of, capacity for and aspirations for ToP facilitation methods, and to the Global ToP working group that is now 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.

The December issue of ICAI’s Winds & Waves magazine ‘Climate Change‘ was published on the 25th, as a Christmas gift!  We are grateful as ever to the tireless editorial team, who work so hard to enable us to share stories and insights on human development  in this magazine three times each year.

I echo the appeal of Peter Ellins in this latest issue –please do contribute to the magazine in 2016, 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.


This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, January 2016