Advocacy Tools to promote Change

Championing the rights of society’s most vulnerable members, whatever the social cause, requires strategy and planning to succeed. Those who take on advocacy roles are often at the forefront of social change. Yet they are often faced with clients who lack the resources; and, at times, even the means to maintain basic human needs for themselves and their families.

Whatever social or political issue you are working on, the tools of effective advocacy can help you better serve the needs of your cause.  Meredith McGehee, an experienced public interest advocate, Policy Director of the Campaign Legal Center, and  Principal of McGehee Strategies, recently gave a workshop on advocacy tools and techniques to young professionals from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco who attended Legacy Legislative Fellows Program Closing Conference in Rabat, Morocco.  Meredith shared these 8 points– a process she calls  ”Advocacy 101″– with Legacy fellows seeking to establish a public health lobby in Morocco.

  1. PRIORITIZE YOUR ISSUES - It is important to choose just 3 or 4 issues.  Don’t try to do too much.  It can lead to a dissipation of resources and energy.
  2. CREATE AN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND BUILD A DIVERSE COALITION- It is important to reach out to other groups that may be affected by the work your group does.  Find ways to engage them and find common issues even if you don’t agree on everything.  But don’t try to make strategic decisions with a big group.  Create an executive committee that is empowered to set strategy and tactics.  You will get “buy in” from your constituency if you consult with them regularly and inform them regularly of what you are doing.  You’ll get criticism but be transparent and responsive.
  3. BE CLEAR BETWEEN SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM GOALS - It is important to be patient and to get your group members to be patient and understand they need to be in it for a long time.
  4. DEVELOP A SLOGAN AND A LOGO FOR YOUR LOBBY - Also, if possible, create a button or some other small, inexpensive give away that you can give away at events or on visits.
  5. SUCCINCT INFORMATION - Once you have identified your top priorities, write up a short summary of each issue, just the front and back of one sheet of paper, and use plain language.  If talking to the media or in a public venue, keep it short.  Tell personal stories but don’t let your people go on and on.  Keep it short and interesting.
  6. IF POSSIBLE, CREATE A WEBSITE  - Also, use YouTube and video any events or meetings that you have, but don’t post anything longer than 5 minutes.
  7. REACH OUT TO THE MEDIA - Unless it is dangerous, talk to the media regularly, make it easy for them, and be available.

Meredith McGehee specializes in nonprofit advocacy campaigns, lobbying and legislative strategy.  She has been at the center of  a number of impressive legislative victories, often against great odds, and is known for her unique ability to work with both sides of the aisle.  She has been described as one of the most “in-the-know” people about lobbying and the D.C. scene.

McGehee has been named six times by The Hill newspapers one of the top nonprofit/grassroots lobbyists in Washington. She speaks at universities and organizations around the country, has testified before Congress, appears on local and national television and is frequently quoted in national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Village Voice, Salon, Broadcasting & Cable, The Washington Times and the Des Moines Register. She also has appeared on national news shows, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Bloomberg TV, C-Span and MSNBC.

Prior to joining the Campaign Legal Center, McGehee served as President of the Alliance for Better Campaigns and Senior Vice President and Chief Lobbyist for Common Cause.  She was Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Lane Evans of Illinois and a legislative aide to U.S. Representative Dante Fascell of Florida. McGehee is originally from the Southwest, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa and is a Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude graduate of Pomona College in California.

Service is a Universal Value

Community service is a doorway to a stronger civil society, it is a doorway to health, equity, equality, education and empowerment. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”. There is no way to overestimate the value of community service; the value of working with, and for, those in-need in our communities.

universal core values“When citizens gather together to serve their local community it is a positive affirmation of our collective and individual future, it affirms the understanding that human beings are the protectors of this planet and of each other.”- J. E. Rash

Legacy International is committed to a Universal Values based approach to serving our fellow human beings. That means treating all people with respect, honoring their cultures, and understanding their needs and the contributions they can and do make to society, home and globally.  Our work is designed for the future leaders who lead and serve with hope and care for others. Whether they are a public health worker in rural Morocco, saving children’s lives, or a young activist in NYC or Indonesia involved in water clean ups, as each of these participants in Legacy’s program were, serving others stirs shared human core values and promotes beneficial change.

Community service Legacy International summer campFuture generations of responsible and ethical, sincere and spiritually awakened individuals, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, non-religious, those who are true believers in justice,  individual freedom, and mutual respect, —all understand the value of service to the community.

Read more about a few of the community service projects of Legacy International’s participants.

A Legacy of Health Children: Saving Lives in Morocco

Discovering the Meaning of Leadership through Service

A Legacy of Sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A Legacy of Empowerment: Promoting Choice for Girls in Egypt

A Legacy of Green: Planting Trees in Indonesia



The Digital Evolution or Revolution?

China’s Lack of Creativity in the midst of Economic Growth
by J.E.Rash, Founder and President, Legacy International

J.E. Rash, Founder and President, Legacy International

J.E. Rash

China: Despite China’s rapid growth and development, and reflecting on it’s global reach and influence, as well as new found affluence; there is no guarantee that the trajectory of growth and development will ever embrace or positively benefit the majority of people nor establish a permanent trusting relationship with the global community.  One of the reasons one could posit, vis a vis this premise, is that a subtle but essential component of the Digital Evolution- one that distinguishes it from A Digital Revolution- is Values: Core Universal Values.

In fact, it would be a very revealing and interesting study to examine how spiritual, cultural and social values influence sustainable development and the role that Digital marketing, social marketing, and socially conscious core values play in success models that are sustainable and reinforce those values.

Note the motivation that China has to end its decades long policy of one child/per familly… not a moral, or ethical or philosophical one but strictly a demographic incentive. And though it reinforces certain ‘freedoms’ and social, spiritual, cultural norms, it nevertheless does not link them with success. This overlap of motiviations grants time and even enhances power and financial / political influence but does nothing to allay the loss or the fill the human need for meaningful life based on a heart-felt and confidence building, trusting and inclusive mentality.

At the outset, it may appear to be not important and in the short term hard to prove, but in the long term of over 100 years,  I believe that what will distinguish success, define success and personal contentment and commitment to peace and moderation, personal comfort and hence economic growth and more over creativity, will be evident in societies that have a moral, or ethical/ spiritual, inclusive and tolerant foundation and companies that acccept gladly their role as socially responsible change agents.

Successful Innovators in Agriculture

by Dr Khaled Hassouna
Legacy International’s Board of Advisors 

“There is a need to educate youth about agriculture in its broader definition to help overcome the view that it is a manual labour activity.” His article was recently published in the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture newsletter.

Khaled Hassouna“Agriculture was an activity practiced by people in the Middle East for thousands of years. Throughout these years, a culture of agriculture and farming communities was built. As the nations in the area developed their social structures, farming seemingly became associated with peasantry. The social casts evolved into landowners and peasant farmers. It seems that this image was sustained throughout the years and settled in the psyche of people.

As agriculture developed into many intricate disciplines, many crafts became associated with the value chain that we tend to refer to as agricultural process. As we discuss sustainable agriculture or sustainable natural resources management, we add new disciplines and crafts to life old practices and knowledge. The traditional farmer (peasant) and the agriculture engineer (if well trained) represent two ends of the spectrum needed by a new agriculture operator.  It became more and more obvious that we need operators in the agricultural process that are higher standard than earlier years in our human development.

If we believe that the agricultural revolution depended on machinery then on chemicals, then we are facing a new challenge. The NEW agricultural revolution needed to feed over six billion people will depend on producing a special caliber of agrofesionals.

The need arose to develop a cadre of agricultural professionals that are educated and flexible to be able to operate within different disciplines of the value chain. We need young, self-motivated, highly trained, tech savvy individuals with passion to lead the new revolution. We need individuals versed in multidisciplinary networking that cross the cultural barriers of the class and education to solid network of stakeholders.

Many of our academic institutions are working on developing these individuals. These young revolutionaries face a very steep uphill route, especially in the Middle East. They face a culture that look down on farming labor, on vocational education, and on blue-collar professions in general.

By studying the vocational education system in many of our countries in the area, we find that students are directed to vocational schools mostly when they prove unsuccessful in general K-12 education. If they make it through general education and fail to join a university, they are forced to spend couple of years in technical/vocational colleges before they graduate into a job market that they are not ready for.

I believe that the culture in our Mideast countries have to develop a wider definition for agriculture.  We have to move from culturally translating agriculture as farming to a definition that encompasses all potential jobs that will pipeline into a successful agricultural value chain operation. We have to mentally translates agricultural professional as a person who serve the farming, processing, transporting, and marketing processes.

A doctor who is working on resolving health issues for farming communities is serving part of the agricultural value chain. A social scientist who is working with engineers on resolving physical and social issues for drivers transporting agricultural products through continents is serving the agricultural value chain. In fact, we will find very few jobs that does not relate one way or another to the agricultural value chain.

Some people debate that we have to re-introduce agriculture to people in the Middle East as the value chain. That we should teach the culture that زراعة (zera’a) is much more than فلاحة (felaha). I think we should bring back the real meaning of farming and farmer. When all fail we should remember that farmer in Arabic means “the continuously successful one” (فلاح).”


Dr Khaled Hassouna, PhD is Associate Director, Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, Office of International Research, education, and Development at Virginia Tech (OIRED) in the United States.


Collectivism Re. Adulthood, Women, and Television

by Rachel Mead
Arabic Language Institute


Rachel poses at a pre-school in Touama next to the butterflies that she has painted.

We all came into this knowing that Moroccans would have different ways of looking at things, different backgrounds and cultural influences that make their daily lives much different from ours. Maybe because we were so ready to be culturally sensitive and culture-shocked and faced with all-around alien situations, when we actually got here… things weren’t that crazy. We had a whole session at orientation about thinking of things as “different” instead of weird, so we were prepared to start thinking about things as different immediately, but I think partly because the people we live with and learn with are so used to Americans and so accepting of and interested in our own culture and values, it took a little while for the real differences to show. And most of them, perhaps as we should have expected, come from the dissonance between our individualist culture in America and the collectivist culture here. I don’t think that one–individualist or collectivist–is better or worse than the other, but there are definitely things that are hard to get used to in each if you come from a background in the other.

Earlier this week, John Kerry told a group of German students that Americans have the right to be stupid and disconnected if they want to, that inherent in the freedom of speech and thought is the freedom to… basically, not think. We believe that people should be able to decide for themselves what to wear, what religion to practice, what to do with their lives, and so on. Even if your parents or community have a strict idea about any of those things, once you’re an adult in America you’re your own person and if you want to have awful fashion sense, convert, or be a music major, that’s up to you. In Morocco, that’s not really how it is. Moroccans have told our group in intercultural dialogues that one of the things they know about Americans is that we leave the house and stop caring about our parents when we turn 18. In retrospect I think we were a bit too defensive about it, because in a Moroccan context I can totally see how they would see that. To us, going away somewhere to college is a rite of passage after high school; you’re expected to go to a different city and live there for four years, and then probably go on to graduate school somewhere else and never come back to live with your parents. All four of my Moroccan sisters live at home, even though three of them are out of high school. They have jobs in Marrakech, and show no signs of planning to leave their family home any time soon. To Moroccans, this isn’t a picture of failure the way it would be in the States. This is a happy, functional, close-knit family with five adults who all support the family in different ways. I see visiting my parents during school holidays and summers for the next four years as being close and loving enough; I want to make my own path in the world. Moroccans see nothing wrong with being much more interdependent than Americans, and it’s a dynamic that feels a lot friendlier, although I don’t think it will change the way I’ll live when I leave. My culture’s had too much of an impact.

Because we think of success as getting out of your parents’ house and having your own life and career, it’s also hard for us to grasp sometimes that some people really do want to be housewives. All the girls on our trip, and probably most if not all of our female friends at home are so smart, driven, and competent. I can’t imagine any of the others not having success in whatever fields they enter after college. And while I can see some of them as excellent mothers, I can’t see them giving up those high-powered jobs to take care of their kids full-time. Most of the Moroccan girls I know are just as smart, though. They work incredibly hard in school, probably harder than many of their male counterparts, and they want good jobs too. The difference is, as I discovered at a panel about women in Morocco, that they’d give those jobs up if they had children–which most Moroccan girls plan to do, for the collective good of the family. One girl, who is currently in medical school, said she wants to do whatever she’s doing at 100% of her capability. If she can’t be both the best doctor and the best mother possible, of course she’ll stop working. My gut impulse when I hear things like this is to rail against the patriarchy, to tell these girls, no, honey, The Man is making you think you want to do all the housework for your husband and give up your job. It’s because society is telling you it’s right, not because you actually want to live your life as a prisoner in your own house. But it’s my own society that tells me I have to prove myself through my career, that as a woman if I don’t have a good job and try to break the glass ceiling I’m a disgrace, I’m backwards, I’m a failure. It’s all a matter of perspective, and while I still believe I want that high-powered job and wouldn’t give it up for anything, my Rosie the Riveter, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better, grrrl power ideals are just as much a product of my upbringing as my friend’s ideals are of hers.

Rachel Mead is currently participating in the year long aspect of the  Arabic Language Institute. This program offered by Legacy International (USA) in partnership with the Center for Language and Culture is part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. She is staying in Marrakesh for her academic year  of study, exploring the culture, developing friendships, and increasing her knowledge of Arabic language and Islamic culture.

The Thrill of Teaching

Author: Ethan Reichsman

Ethan Reichsman is an Arabic Language student in Morocco at the Arabic Language Institute (ALI) program with Legacy International and The Center for Language and Culture.

There’s no thrill greater than walking into a classroom full of eager students, ready to learn. This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned in Morocco so far, and it’s just one of the benefits of teaching English here. I enjoy every lesson I teach, and look forward to my Saturday evening classes. The best part about it is their desire to learn. Because these students are studying English on a scholarship, they know how lucky they are, and are determined not to waste this opportunity, so they’re a joy to teach. All in all, teaching has been one of the most enjoyable and enlightening experiences I’ve had so far here.

One of the things I’m most glad about is that I’m teaching Beginning 1. The students I have were complete beginners, and knew only the most basic English. This has meant that I have been able to watch them progress from no English to being able to give and receive information. The change is astounding, and heartwarming. It helps that all of my students seem to be able to just soak up language, and make me look like a better teacher than I am. I count myself lucky to be able to teach them.

Ethan painting in the village of Touama

Ethan painting in the village of Touama

Of course, as I teach them, they teach me. They teach me patience, when explaining a difficult concept. They teach me organization, as I prepare for my daily lesson. They teach to prepare for anything, when my lesson plan goes completely awry. But most of all, they teach me to take pride in my work. I can leave class every Saturday and think, “I have made a difference. If even one of those children’s lives is improved by this class, then I have been successful.” This is the highlight of my week. I do know that I’m making a difference. Knowing English makes one very employable in Morocco, and one has to start somewhere. If I can foster a love of English in these kids, there’s a good chance their lives will be improved by it.

Teaching is an incredible experience, one that I will miss. I will miss the drive of the students, the feeling of making a real difference, and even the sheer fun we have in class. All of these factors add up to make teaching my favorite activity in Morocco, one which I look forward to continuing.

In what ways has teaching a language impacted you and others around you? We’d like to hear from you. Post your comments below!

In Honor of International Women’s Day 2013

International Women’s Day recently took place on March 8th. Here a post highlighting the amazing women Legacy has had the privilege of working with.

Legacy International serves to empower women through a number of initiatives we promote through the work of our organization. Women worldwide deserve equal access to health, education and economic security. Through our work, we have helped build the capacity of current and future generations of female pioneers in health, social innovation, and technology.

On International Women’s Day 2013, we highlight young women from the Middle East and North Africa who have participated and partnered with Legacy International through our dynamic programs.

mary-samirMary Samir seeks to help Egyptian women overcome cultural issues around educating youth and women about sexual health, reproductive rights, and violence against women. As an alumnus of the North African Community Health Initiative, She has taught classes all over the country, primarily Cairo and Upper Egypt. She recently spoke at an event which brought together 76 young women to talk about sexual health, reproductive rights, violence against women, and hygiene. Her program is called: “Because we are Girls”.

sharifa-al-baramiThe advancement of women is of prime importance to the economy, business and society. Meet Sharifa Al Barami, managing director of Aljazeera Global Services & Investments. Legacy International is proud to be partnering with her on the Legislative Fellows Program in Oman. Speaking as an Omani woman on empowerment, Sharifa notes, “Women are already very empowered; perhaps it’s time for us to focus on how more women can contribute in building the nation, shifting the focus away from gender and onto action. Empowerment, in my opinion, comes from within. It’s an internal process that only needs to be instigated with an external affecter.”

lara Kasbari teaching


In July 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the launch of TechGirls—a three-week, intensive youth exchange “to encourage innovation and promote the spread of new technologies to give women and girls the support that they need to become leaders in this field. The TechGirls exchange program aims to inspire girls from the Middle East and North Africa to pursue higher education and careers in technology through hands-on skills development.


Sura (right)

TechGirls 2012 Alumni: Sura Mubarak, Lara Kasbari  and Fatma Altahery carry on the torch as young Arab female pioneers in technology. They have all been working with local youth in their home countries teaching them tech skills centered on gaming, robotics and computer knowledge.

Sura from Jordan is very active as a robotics mentor with a tech group called the “Techno Musketeers” working on First Lego League projects.



Fatma from Yemen has been teaching 3D Game Design to children in Yemen.

Lara from Palestine, recently completed teaching a series of computer literacy courses at the Diabetic Friends Center. It was a huge success.


Public and Community Health

J.E. Rash, Legacy International Founder and President. “Public and Community Health Issues often know no gender, economic status, tribe or community; even the wealthiest and most powerful become vulnerable when it comes to health issues and even when those at the highest level of power and wealth are exempt by virtue of their wealth or mobility, their lives and their power are certainly affected eventually by the illnesses, ignorance and hopelessness of others.

Often the first step is building trust; over coming pessimism and anger or worse that hopeless and helpless feeling that paralyzes whole segments and communities. Seeing a way for your child to live, to grow, to be educated builds hope; Seeing the life of a mother saved or a father from the ravages of HIV AIDS and able to then serve their children/family; builds hope and trust. Seeing professionals come and remain and sustain programs and projects, train local people and give them a sense of integrity and honor ; builds trust.  Holding standards of excellence not just passable standards builds trust. As dark as tomorrow may seem the existential light of hope can begin to illuminate the horizon and from off that horizon can come simple and real solutions to life’s health, well being, safety and security challenges.”

Larissa Naylor is a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, with funding through a follow on project of Legacy International she is working with rural women in Morocco.

“With the financial assistance of Legacy International, I am managing The Healthy Mothers, 

Peace Corps Volunteer Morocco

Larissa Naylor, Peace Corps Volunteer Morocco, 

Healthy Children: Rural Women’s Peer Health Education Project, which addresses health issues and empowers women in Essaouira, Morocco. The inaccessibility of formal health care for rural families in Morocco, coupled with poverty, high rates of illiteracy – particularly among women – and high birth rates, results in significant numbers of infant and maternal deaths. This project is designed to address this imbalance by disseminating crucial information to women about the health problems they are forced to deal with at home and equipping them with the tools needed to improve their own health and the health of their children.

Malika Belbouhali, a local woman who serves as the project’s health educator, is being empowered by this project to use the training she received in reproductive, maternal and child health from UNICEF. She organizes and conducts workshops – to be a total of eight by the completion of the project this month – in four rural villages in sessions of between 20-30 rural uneducated women. The workshops cover reproductive health, including birth control and STI prevention, maternal and breastfeeding nutrition and general reproductive and maternal health, and child nutrition and hygiene. The workshops are recorded and will be translated to enable both the lectures and question and answer sessions to be preserved for further study.”

Rachid Lamjaimer

Rachid Lamjaimer

One of Legacy’s Community Health Fellows, Rachid Lamjaimer is the Health Program Assistant & Training Coordinator with the Peace Corp in Morocco – his follow on project is Healthy Mother Health Baby” A Lay Health Educator’s Program. He was able to implement his project with the assistance of Larissa in  Essaouira.

Mr. Rash believes “The Legacy we leave must be positive and better than that which came before.  How can that be unless we build trust and understanding between people action and need, those who have the knowledge and the skill to effectuate change and those who are the recipients of that change?

Rachid received funding as part of Legacy’s North African Community Health Initiative which provides community health care professionals from Morocco and Egypt a new set of tools, resources, and knowledge to enhance rural health care in their respective communities.  In particular, this program builds the capacity of professionals who serve marginalized populations, particularly women and children. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs.

spring-fellows2NACHI Fellows meet with Legacy’s President, J.E. Rash

Social Media and Democracy

Here are some thoughts from Legacy International Founder and President J.E. Rash


J.E. Rash, Legacy International Founder and President

“How does technology, social media affect democracy?  This is a question I was asked recently and to answer it , or attempt to, I begin by looking at how technology and social media have affected the way we perceive and interact with the world.  The more I engage in the rhythm of the social media, the more I realize how it changes the way I think about events. Some of those reflections you might call positive and others negative; and since I have always been ‘progressive’ and a ‘futurist,’ I often try to find ways to soften or transform the negative and affirm the positive.

On the negative side, and I am sure many of you can identify with this; social media fosters an inclination to speak without thinking things through.   How many posts on Facebook could benefit from a moments pause and reflection?  Not only does the time pause allow us to rethink, ameliorate, or even further fact check, but it also introduces a less quantifiable less regimented rhythm of communication that is more reflective and sensitive. Less of the mind and more of the heart.

To me, that simple and necessary pause is at the core of cross cultural sensitivity; something that has been one of the founding values of Legacy’s work since it’s inception 35 years ago. One progressively gains insight and sensitivity by pausing and reflecting. We seems to anchor information and watch it transform into knowledge and even a degree of wisdom over time.

Specifically,  cultural knowledge and sensitivity builds respect and trust. I won’t go back decades to the book The Ugly American, but that certainly influenced my thinking and commitment to inter-cultural work and cross-cultural understanding. I find, in many cases, the simplest lack of sensitivity can quickly undermine the good one is striving to do, blocks communication, and hence forecloses trust and even eventual friendships that might be quite meaningful personally and  a means of influencing cooperation and good works.

Well, this could be a book, and I am sure you get the gist of the negative or at least one of the negatives I see in the culture of social media.  The positives too, are equally clear.  The possibility of creating new, constructive, informative, global networks and partnerships is endless.

In my own use of social media, I have been able to refine Legacy’s message, observe and celebrate the work of others in similar fields; and, as a result feel a kinship a deeper respect for the good work of others. Cooperation which has been a core value for me has become more generally accepted and competition for the ‘good’, has replaced institutional competitive modalities that foreclose, partnerships and information sharing. Moreover, open social media interchanges and dialogue has enabled our organization, to respond in moments to the needs of partners, to events on the other side of the world where we may have work or delegations and to engage in constructive planning and even implementation; e.g. trainings, curriculum delivery, conflict prevention and just simply meeting like-minded people who may be future partners.

The ability to convene working meetings, to mine the minds of our friends around the globe, partner with people and organizations that we never knew existed  is a great boon to expanding our service. Of course none of this is new; not to me or to most of you, but it is worth reiterating.

The consolidation of social media platforms and the seemingly constant dynamic of new people and ideas will, I believe, demand new ways of decision-making and new hybrids. Two of Legacy’s new initiatives in particular have benefited from the platform of social media.

Teams of Excellence: where we call upon years of relationships with experts in diverse fields, to advise and work on projects around the world; travel abroad to lecture or run workshops; be members of delegations, and act in teams with others they would not normally have the opportunity to work with.

And Building Sustainable Enterprises: where we take three plus decades of public service work based on what I call Universal Values, and use the knowledge, principles and methodology we have developed to help for profit enterprises to develop or be conceived as social entrepreneurial businesses that bridge the non-profit and the for-profit worlds.  So many skilled young professionals have a compelling desire to not only develop sustainable businesses but also to help and contribute their skill and money to alleviate social ills and social media is a natural tool.

As my long-time friend and colleague Dr. Ira Kaufman Professor of Social Marketing and author of two soon to be released books, notes these young professionals are Digital Natives and from a cultural orientation  where we can expect only a deeper relationship between the  two worlds : Private and Public.

The ability to use this growing cultural relationship with technology for crowd sourcing and crowd funding and to capture the rhythm of service in the moment is a great tool and allows individuals to provide directly to others significant hope for the future.

I was giving a lecture a few days ago and, as usual met interesting people; in this instance some fellow service oriented people from Senegal who immediately grasped the relevancy of merging their for-profit enterprise with public service. In a future meeting we will discuss distance education, training and certification all done digitally and utilizing measurement and evaluation tools both in person and over the Internet to refine models that can be ‘exported’ to other areas of Africa and beyond.

So, how does social media affect democracy?  Social media is democratic, dynamic, and brings challenges and success to our consciousness at an ever-increasing rate. Consciousness is an interesting subject; being aware of possibilities is different than just evaluating probabilities. The marriage of the digital world and the physical world is one to keep our attention focused to; especially if our intentions are good and our goals are to serve others.”

Creating Bridges: A Culture of Dialogue and Transparency Between Elected Representative and Constituents in Morocco.

Legacy Delegation in Rabat, Morocco

Nadia Rabbaa a Legislative Fellow from Morocco is following up on her experiences with Legacy International by hosting a training for congresswomen on how to use social media tools and technology to better communicate with their constituents by engaging with them online and offline with more transparency.

Six congresswomen, both from the ruling party and the opposition were chosen to participate. Peter Fenn and Rich Galen, as part of Legacy’s Teams of Excellence provided the training and tools to support transparency and engagement in the Moroccan political process.

In developing her follow on project she envisioned two outcomes; empowering women in politics highlighting their everyday work, and encouraging  representatives to be accountable to the people and interact with them in a more transparent manner.

The reason she chose this subject to focus on was her belief that after the Arab Spring, social media is seen as a generator for social change in the shape of “revolutions”.  She wanted to show that social media are not just to be used in opposition toward government but can also be a tool that make representatives and constituent get closer together.

The Legislative Fellows Program 2011-2013 (LFP-MENA) links community leaders from the United States, Kuwait, and Oman, Egypt, and Morocco.  This two-year program supports young professionals from the Middle East and North Africa, builds capacity in local Civil Service Organizations (CSO), and strengthens mutual understanding of the legislative and policy making processes in all countries.

What ways have you seen technology and social media impact social change? Share some of your projects and ideas with us.


J.E. Rash and Sec-Gen Javier Perez deCuellar

Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar, 1982-1991 and J.E. Rash, Founder, President,  Legacy International

I am so excited and grateful to announce the revival of The Legacy International Global Viewpoints Forum .

In the early 1990’s Legacy International hosted a number of forums dedicated to pressing subjects such as: peace between the Palestinian and Israeli communities, the role of faith in conflict resolution, the awakening of environmental awareness and the potential of global climate change, and the interface between youth and social responsibility. These forums were usually breakfasts or after-work meetings in Washington and were well attended by members of both government and the NGO communities; on occasion they took the form of workshops and trainings at our home campus in Bedford Va.

Now the Global Viewpoints Forum will go digital. It is my hope that members of our permanent staff, friends and advisors to Legacy, members of Legacy International Teams of Excellence, our partners throughout the world as well as alumni from our programs , experts from our delegations who have worked with us over the years will be all be contributors to this effort. As a result I feel we will see the efficacy of our years of cross cultural work, advocacy for diverse points of view, engaging people of diverse disciplines, faiths, career bases and cultures in creative thinking and planning extend to many who will encounter us on line as well as in the field.

I invite you to follow these blogs, comment on them, begin to network and dialogue with our friends and associates and help us to come up with creative ideas for furthering our global service work. I am sure there will be challenges to this new process; questions about how long a dialogue will run, will there be an editorial panel and if so how it will be utilized, and a refinement of the goals. Right now, I see this as an opportunity to share ideas, comment on programs and projects that our fellows and associates are involved in, profiling young leaders and professionals, and trying to add a positive and constructive voice to the global dialogue on essential issues. Just a glance at some of our partners, fellows, advisors and members of staff and teams of excellence should stimulate ideas and questions; requests for comments.

Let this be a two way information and creative idea flow; to build a better world, to assist us in strengthening our organization and reach and to be more inclusive in our capacity to help other to help themselves.

Please consider yourself a member of our team.

J.E.Rash, Founder and President of Legacy International