Kimberli Jeter Named 2015 Rising Star Award Winner

KimberliFor 2015 Rising Star Award winner Kimberli Jeter, the conversation about learning and development quickly turns into a discussion about networks – between people, ideas, and the sum of their parts.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a new member of the LINGOs community who shares ideas, innovations, and best practices in support of the LINGOs vision and mission.

Kimberli, who is the Chief Learning and Partnerships Officer for PYXERA Global, works remotely from Colorado alongside teams based in Washington, D.C. and around the globe. She insists that as a learning professional, the distance can aid the final product.

In working remotely, she says, “you’re mindful of the fact that you’re serving a population you don’t get to interact with on a regular basis.”

It’s a distance that she shortens through technology and a steady curation of best practices – both of which form the heart of Kimberli’s work with PYXERA Global. There, she spearheads an initiative to provide staff with everything from information about PYXERA Global’s mission and projects as they onboard, to the courses they’ll need to master for their next promotion. To Kimberli, the success of the initiative “depends on our ability to understand the needs of the individual,” but developing the tools and programs takes a consideration of the collective.

To this end, Kimberli has leaned on the LINGOs community this year, the first since PYXERA Global joined. “Kimberli has been tasked with creating a learning strategy for a fast-growing NGO,” says Chris Proulx, CEO of LINGOs. “And when it came to LINGOs and what it could provide, she didn’t choose to take a year to get oriented, but instead has immediately jumped in and made connections within the community, asked questions, and has really worked with our team to employ the components of LINGOS that are most beneficial for PYXERA Global’s strategy.”

This includes collaborating with a working group of other member NGOs to develop “learning paths” from the array of courses available to the LINGOs community. She underscores that it’s a work in process – the group met in person for the first time at the Global Learning Forum – but it’s an important step for everyone using the new LINGOs Learning Platform. “We can build and lay out these tracks for people, so that…they can have a longer-term vision for their professional development,” she says. Training “doesn’t have to be ‘just-in-time.’”

For Kimberli, this tailored perspective on training dovetails with her experience so far in the LINGOs community. In LINGOs, she says, “you have different experiences, different perspectives, and different use cases. You can start to learn from others, create your own system…[and then] go back and contribute it to the community.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

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NetDimensions named 2015 Partner of the Year

NetDimensions Logo 2014 verticalCongratulations to NetDimensions, which has been named LINGOs’ 2015 Partner of the Year! The award honors an organization that has shown a significant commitment to helping LINGOs deliver affordable, high-quality learning solutions to people and organizations working to improve lives in developing and vulnerable communities. Chris Pirie, LINGOs Board Chair and Microsoft’s General Manager of Field Readiness and Learning, presented the award to NetDimensions CEO Jay Shaw in a ceremony Wednesday night at the Global Learning Forum.

NetDimensions supports the LINGOs community with an innovative Learning Management System based on NetDimensions Learning. The technology, which NetDimensions provides to LINGOs at greatly reduced cost, gives LINGOs’ 80+ member non-profits and their collective 200,000 employees access to learning when and where they work—in over 140 countries.

The NetDimensions Learning Management System has allowed LINGOs to deliver a wide range of learning opportunities to its members, said Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO. “In our first year of partnering with NetDimensions, we’ve just cherry-picked the set of features we knew would provide immediate benefit for the diversity of organizations that we serve. Yet at the same time, there’s a potential for us to really go deeper with the platform in the future. NetDimensions has been incredibly generous with their technology as well as their expertise to help build a common platform for over 80 organizations.”

NetDimensions is a member of the UN Global Compact, and has pledged to manage its business in accordance with the Global Compact’s Ten Principles of corporate sustainability. NetDimensions’ partnership with LINGOs is one aspect of this commitment to responsible business. “We want to have the opportunity to grow as a company, to give value to our shareholders, and to serve more clients,” says Michelle Sullivan, NetDimensions’ North American Marketing Director. “In turn, we also need to provide opportunities to organizations that are making the world a better place.” For NetDimensions’ CEO Jay Shaw, this means sharing learning opportunities through LINGOs: “NetDimensions is fully committed to building our relationship with LINGOs and helping to provide a learning technology that has an impact on the world.”

The effects of NetDimensions’ generosity are far-reaching. “Their corporate experience is at a global level – across multiple countries and languages, serving corporations with tens of thousands of employees,” Proulx said. “By partnering with NetDimensions we have a solution that can scale out to the 200,000 employees that our members represent and still have the scale to expand and grow.”

Congratulations, NetDimensions, and thank you for your continued support of LINGOs! We’re looking forward to another year of helping learners around the world maximize their impact through improved training and capacity building.

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Heifer International Named 2015 Member of the Year

heifer logoCongratulations to Heifer International, which has been named LINGOs’ 2015 Member of the Year! The annual award honors a LINGOs member organization that has demonstrated commitment to LINGOs’ mission:  providing affordable, high-quality learning solutions to those working to improve lives in developing and vulnerable communities. Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO, presented the award to Hilary Haddigan, Holly Dunning and Tamidra Marable of Heifer International in a ceremony Wednesday night at the Global Learning Forum.

In a statement before the ceremony, Hilary Haddigan, Chief of Mission Effectiveness at Heifer, thanked LINGOs for the “recognition of the journey Heifer is on,” noting that it was an honor for Heifer to be in service to the communities where it works.

Heifer International, a longtime LINGOs member organization, is dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, and to caring for the Earth. In support of this mission, Heifer has worked closely with the LINGOs community to develop and share best practices for organizational learning and capacity building.

When a new Learning Management System was rolled out to the LINGOs community this year, Heifer consistently provided the community with its findings and solutions to shared challenges.

“The idea was to go through [the LMS rollout] together,” says Holly Dunning, Talent Development Manager at Heifer. “We were creating a lot of materials that we were sharing with the rest of the [LINGOs community]. We didn’t want to miss a second of it.”

In its push to build capacity across the organization, Heifer has also been a leading champion and adopter of PMD Pro, a training and professional certification designed for project managers in the development sector. Tamidra Marable, Talent Development Manager at Heifer, says that PMD Pro is “a central tool” in Heifer’s goal to help 4 million families achieve a living income by 2020, adding that as staff and partners are trained in the approach, everyone “gains a common taxonomy and understanding of our way of working.”

In short, it’s about collaboration – and strategy. Proulx calls Heifer International “a model organization in terms of linking business strategy to learning and performance improvement.”

For NGOs that are developing learning plans of their own, Proulx says that “the takeaway from Heifer is to align the learning activities that you’re doing with your organization’s specific business challenges or objectives. [Learning success] is about focus, more than it is about breadth and depth of resources.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Vicki Aken Named 2015 Eric Berg LEAP Award Winner

VIcki 3When it comes to humanitarian responses to the ongoing crisis in Syria, the risks to aid workers are beyond debate – bombings and kidnappings are frequent in the region. For Vicki Aken, Country Director at GOAL Syria, the danger can lead to the question of whether GOAL should be operating in Syria at all. But as she says, “if you put that same question to my staff inside Syria, they say, ‘How can we call ourselves a humanitarian organization if we don’t work in areas like this?’”

To a bystander, the task of professionally developing humanitarian staff in Syria can seem a luxury for later times, given the stakes. But with her team inside Syria 100% committed to the crisis response, Vicki sees it as her role to find ways to support them.

Vicki, who is currently based in Antakya, Turkey, said that although she has over 400 staff inside Syria, only seven people can cross the border point at a time. “We just have to figure out new ways of getting [our staff in Syria] training,” she said.

Vicki is the inaugural winner of the Eric Berg LEAP Award, named for LINGOs’ Co-Founder and CEO Emeritus. The award honors a leader in the learning and capacity building sector who has demonstrated a commitment to “leaping while trusting the net will appear” – an old maxim of Berg’s about not missing opportunities to make a difference.

Vicki’s commitment to field-based training and local capacity building has been long-standing, beginning with her work managing a community technology center in Tonga as a Peace Corps volunteer. In 2008, she developed a prototype online course for the Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro) training, a professional certification that has now reached over 10,000 development and humanitarian workers in over 140 countries globally.

As GOAL’s Country Director in Sudan, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and now Syria, Vicki has advocated for and disseminated a range of online and offline training to develop and build the capacity of the staff and partner organizations working most closely with communities—workers who don’t always receive access to world class learning. Of her dedication to developing staff in tough locations, Eric Berg, a longtime mentor of Vicki’s, says: “It’s not something you can toss off and say, ‘I could do that, too.’ I think it takes a different kind of person, and that’s one of the reasons I think so highly of Vicki.”

“Looking at Vicki’s current leadership role, it would be easy to offer reasons for why Syria is perhaps not place to invest in the human capital of her team—to take a more ‘fire fighting approach’,” said Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO. “But Vicki is unwilling to accept that as a status quo. She’s continually finding creative, flexible ways to invest in her people – to professionally develop staff doing difficult work in a near impossible situation.”

Most recently, Vicki has spearheaded a number of capacity building projects in Syria—building the skills of local NGOs in one of the world’s most challenging crises. For example, she deployed innovative uses of technology such as Blackboard Collaborate to continue developing and remotely managing staff in Syria across the closed border.

It’s a familiar page from the private sector’s book, Vicki says. “[Organizations in the private sector] hire the best people no matter where they’re located, and they figure out how to work with them virtually. So why do we have to keep thinking about it as remote management? Why not think about it as just a different type of management?”

This ability to turn constraints into stepping stones resonates in her advice to young professionals looking to make their start in the sector. Touching briefly on her experience working with the Common Humanitarian Fund in Sudan, for which she eventually was an Advisory Board Member, Vicki says: “I had no idea how it worked, and when the [NGO I was with] was looking for someone to be the representative liaison with it, I volunteered to do it, because I figured that was the best way to [learn] how it works.” She laughs.

“To just start working with it and with the people who set it up – you have to be willing to do things like that.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Does Your Organization’s Online Learning Strategy Make the Grade?

On October 13, Dr. Sarah Steinberg (of Frogstone Strategies LLC) and Ariela Rosenstein (of Rare) are leading a Pre-Conference Workshop at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum. Entitled “A Blueprint for an Online Learning Strategy,” this one-day workshop is designed to provide expert guidance as you develop or revamp your organization’s custom online learning strategy.

Blueprint-e1434637111415Accessible and highly adaptable, online learning can play a key role in engaging staff, driving innovation, and forging links between organizations, partners and stakeholders. The road leading to these positive outcomes, however, can be a confusing navigation of buzzwords (MOOC, social, or gamified, anyone?) –and a pyramid of decisions about technology and content sourcing.

So, you need a map. And if you’re already underway but know that your strategy isn’t maximizing reach or ROI, then it’s time to recalibrate the path that you’re on.

In October, Dr. Sarah Steinberg and Ariela Rosenstein are leading a Pre-Conference Workshop at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum on developing a blueprint for an online learning strategy. We caught up with them earlier this month to discuss online organizational learning, and two “foundational” questions that serve as helpful starting points for Workshop participants – and for anyone charting a path for online learning in their own organization. Take a peek!

  1. Why Online?

Here’s the secret that’s too important to keep: As you consider online learning options, your answer to the question “Why are you going online?” will be your driving force, framing all of your other critical decision points – and your discussions with stakeholders. In a landscape as wide and intangible as the field of online learning, your reasons for steering your organization there in the first place can quickly get buried in conversations about how you’ll get there – and if you’re still gathering your thoughts, it’s probably too early to be talking technology, languages, and content.

So ask yourself: “Why should my organization take its learning online?” In doing so, you’ll start to analyze some of the tradeoffs, a critical move given the variety of options available. For example: Are you willing to forgo a certain amount of impact for the cost? Is your focus on low-bandwidth field solutions, or a high-resolution classroom environment? Who in your organization would benefit most from online learning? Chances are you’ll spark some ideas about your organization’s specific goals and potential blended solutions, which leads us into the next question:

  1. What are your best-case scenarios?

This runs close to the simpler question of “What are your organization’s needs online?” but it varies in one critical, theoretical sense. Framing your new strategy purely as a solution to your organization’s needs can ground you in the logistical everyday – and start you plodding forward based on the building blocks of your identified essentials, a slow process at best.

No, better here to wonder, “What are the ideal outcomes of online learning for my organization?” This can help you envision your strategy as a line of best fit between your current position and your ideal outcomes. Your answers to this question (there might be a few) provide goals from which you can trace direct lines back – as the crow flies – to your current drawing board.

In the Pre-Conference Workshop, your answers to these questions will become part of a larger toolkit designed to help achieve your organization’s ideal outcomes, not just its needs. Under Sarah and Ariela’s expert guidance, you’ll assess your baseline resources, identify key activities and decision gates in your strategic planning process, and discuss implementation with colleagues who share similar goals and contexts – before leaving the workshop with your own blueprint for an online learning strategy.

Register for the Workshop and find additional details on the Global Learning Forum here.

Questions? Contact Sarah and Ariela – we’re all looking forward to seeing you on October 13!

Do You Want to Help Your Organization’s Managers Succeed? Come Learn With Us!


This guest post is by Mike Culligan, LINGOs’ Director of Last Mile Learning and one-half of the expert duo (with Sam Davis of Save the Children UK) leading the management development
Pre-Conference Workshop on October 13. Check back on the LINGOs blog for more posts from our workshop leaders and keynote speakers! For more information on LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, visit our website.

chess-e1434637123955The relationship between managers and their employees is a key predictor of the overall health of an organization.  Strong managers result in more productive, engaged and committed employees.  These employees, in turn, contribute more effectively to the strategy and goals of the organization.

However, while the potential impact of strong manager-employee relationships is generally accepted, often organizations have a hard time acknowledging how difficult it is to get this dynamic right in the first place, and fail to recognize the real impact to the organization when teams fail.  Too often, when we retrace our (mis)steps from an undesirable outcome, we focus exclusively on the concrete inputs – budget, calendar, resources (human and otherwise) – without acknowledging that a significant cause can be dysfunctional team dynamics, inadequate communications, or any of a number of weaknesses that contribute to poor management.

So how does an organization avoid this problem?  Too often, we resolve to “hire smart people” – development professionals who are good at their technical area of focus (health, watsan, small enterprise development, agriculture, etc.) – and expect that they will grow into the role of a manager as they are promoted through the ranks.  This leaves new managers in the position to teach themselves, at cost to their own development and that of their employees.

The alternative, developing a training program for new managers, is daunting.  The steep time and development costs of creating a management training program is prohibitive, the skills required to create a curriculum are often unavailable, and organizations often lack the budget to acquire the training materials to implement the program.

Enter LINGOs.  This month, representatives of LINGOs member organizations are initiating a series of meetings in England, the US and online to look at ways that we can improve the management capacity building of our agencies by working together.  The premise is simple: While each of our organizations is unique, good people management is based on several precepts that apply just about everywhere – even in organizations of diverse structures and missions.   Are there ways we can learn from each other and share resources, so that we make good management a far more manageable task (excuse the bad pun)?

These meetings will culminate at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum’s Pre-Conference Workshop, “7 Steps for Creating a Management Development Strategy in Your Organization.”  There, participants will work on developing a blueprint for management training in their organizations.  We’ve been collecting and analyzing the experiences of organizations that already have management development programs, and exploring their curricula, competencies, and skill maps. When you participate in the Pre-Conference Workshop, you’ll be learning from these other agencies’ experiences: tuning in to the commonalities we’ve found between them, discussing their lessons learned, and identifying key success factors.

So whether you have a management development strategy that you’re looking to revamp, or you’re just facing the task of compiling one, the Pre-Conference Workshop will provide a map of what already works for organizations much like your own.

Find more details and register for the Pre-Conference Workshop here. We hope you can join us on October 13!