Dear Colleagues, Later this month, NGS will celebrate its six-year anniversary, and we have come a long way as you’ll see in the updates below. Our teams are busy supporting activities such as the upcoming Summit for Democracy (March 29-30), ramping up learning support alongside USAID’s Center for Violence and Conflict Prevention (CVP), finalizing GESI strategies and plans in Georgia and Ukraine, providing solid support to OTI and the DRG Center, and more. Our home office team is growing to support all of this. I had an opportunity to present a company-wide update to NGS employees in February, and it was both humbling and energizing to look back at our progress since 2017. I invite you to take a read through the updates below to see what we’ve been up to. Thanks for your ongoing support of NGS. Kaylin
State of the Union NGS
On February 28, NGS CEO Kaylin Nickol hosted a “fireside chat” on the State of NGS. Kaylin brought the team back to March of 2017 when she started Nickol Global Solutions LLC from her kitchen table. She walked staff through the evolution of NGS over the last six years, from “adventures with a band of trusted consultants” to today’s thriving organization: Today I am sitting here in a roomful of professionals working on projects that cut through red tape, view problems from the inside out, meet our clients’ needs, and equip communities to chart a better future… We have earned trust of our partners because we deliver…. [and] our contextualized, people-centered development approach produces enduring results… We have grown from “me” to “we” because NGS has become the sum of each of our contributions. The team was given the opportunity to ask questions about the future of NGS, and Kaylin encouraged NGS staff to continue to provide feedback on how we can best support our talented team.
Welcome to New Staff Members! “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson With those words in mind, we are honored to share the new members of the NGS team who bring new strengths to our growing organization. We are excited to announce that Teresa Cannady recently joined NGS as a full-time technical advisor after working with us on the DRG support contract since June 2022. Additionally, NGS continues to build out our business development function with new Senior BD Manager Carla Brooks. Carla is an experienced business development professional with a demonstrated skillset in generating new business and sales, cultivating, and maintaining stakeholder relationships, providing data analytics and insights and developing impactful strategies that drive growth in various advanced markets. We are also thrilled to welcome Brenda Barrett, who will be joining our team on April 11 to lead our Peacebuilding, Stabilization, and Transition (PST) portfolio. Brenda has over 20 years of experience in international development specializing in post-conflict and transitional work across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and the Balkans. On the project side, Steve Rozner recently joined NGS as Fiscal Advisor and Debt Management Consultant. He will be working exclusively with USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG). David Yamron has joined the Peacebuilding, Evaluation, Analysis, Research, and Learning (PEARL) task order as a Senior Learning and Outreach Specialist. NGS' work also continues to grow with the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). In addition to our dedicated team of consultants, our Admin and Ops team continues to provide excellent support to the OTI offices in DC. We recently welcomed two new staff members, Michelle Scanlon and Erika Moyer! Michelle has over 10 years of operations and project management experience with USAID/CPS/OTI spanning efforts from process design and documentation to information system design to training and facilitation on a variety of topics. Erika has spent the last year and a half working with USAID's Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs (LPA) as a Special Assistant. With so many new team members, NGS is becoming stronger than ever. We cannot wait to see how each person contributes to NGS’ success and how we can help support their growth.
A PEARL of Wisdom
On January 23 and 24, the Peacebuilding Evaluation, Analysis, Research, and Learning (PEARL) consortium presented a set of draft learning deliverables to USAID. As the consortium’s lead for Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) and outreach, NGS had worked closely with prime contractor Integrity Global and USAID/Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization/Center for Conflict and Violence Prevention (CPS/CVP) staff to design two key outputs, which were NGS’ first major deliverables: first, a proposed Menu of CLA Services that PEARL will offer to missions; and second, a draft of the PEARL Learning Agenda, which is intended to capture and synthesize learning from across the PEARL portfolio of buy-ins. In attendance were USAID staff from a number of operating units concerned with conflict resolution, stabilization, and peacebuilding, including CPS/CVP, OTI, and the DRG Center. The response was very positive, and the PEARL consortium received useful and actionable feedback to integrate into the project.
NGS Supports Release of USAID C-TIP Field Guide
USAID released the revised Counter-Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) Field Guide in January. NGS’ own Teresa Cannady supported the revision by providing edits and updates to the previous version. The updated Field Guide is based on a survivor-centered approach, providing practical guidance to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate integrated and standalone C-TIP activities. The guide also provides resources to victims through comprehensive identification and referral protocols.
The Field Guide provides USAID’s framework for countering trafficking in persons (TIP), describes and defines TIP, provides an overview of the prohibitions against behaviors that facilitate TIP, and provides a set of potential programming objectives and illustrative activities within prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.
Democracy, Rights, and Governance (DRG) Center Prepares for the Summit for Democracy (S4D2) From Concept to Creation NGS staff have played a critical role in leading USAID's design and development of the Partnership for Democratic Development (PDD). The PDD is the largest USAID deliverable under the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a landmark set of policy and foreign assistance initiatives to bolster democracy and defend human rights globally. Robert Gerstein, NGS Technical Advisor, has coordinated design and implementation efforts on behalf of the PDD Core Team since February 2022. From embracing his self-described "inner data dork" by digging into evidence from global democracy indicators to pitching innovative concepts and approaches to USAID leadership, Robert and NGS have been able to inspire evidence based innovative programming at USAID. We look forward to seeing a spotlight on our collaboration with USAID at the S4D2!
Bright Spots in Democracy Over the last eight months, NGS Advisor Gretchen King – who serves as the DRG Center's Summit for Democracy Cohort and Civil Society Coordinator – has been coordinating with USAID's S4D2 team, the State Department, and the National Security Council to support the development and ongoing work of Democracy Cohorts and to engage with civil society. The cohorts have been one of the primary activities within the Summit for Democracy's Year of Action. To date, governments from around the world and civil society organization are leading 15 cohorts that focus on issues such as gender equality, rule of law, civic space, anti-corruption, and media freedom. In preparation for the Summit, the cohorts are developing model commitments, pledges, calls to action, and best practices documents that provide easy ways for countries to make new commitments at this year's Summit and to take impactful steps that strengthen their democracies. Gretchen and the rest of the USAID Summit team are closely engaging with civil society groups to gather their feedback on Summit planning and to ensure that civil society has a meaningful role in the Summit agenda. Finally, in the last few months, Gretchen has also supported the Bright Spots Initiative, a high priority initiative of Administrator Power, aimed at harnessing democratic openings in 10 countries. Gretchen, along with the Bright Spots core team, has worked to support Bright Spot "wins" in Tanzania and Zambia focused on a public-private partnership with Vodafone related to maternal child health and efforts to increase access to fertilizer for farmers.
Call to Action As part of the DRG Center’s S4D2 Executive Team’s working group, Jessica Benton Cooney, NGS Senior Communications and Outreach Specialist in the Center, is leading USAID’s communications efforts for the S4D2 with the interagency – including within USAID, the Department of State, and the National Security Council. To promote the messaging and goals of the S4D2, Jessica designed and drafted the creative brief of a “Call to Action” Campaign, which will invite the participation of influencers such as regional activists, media figures, and cultural icons from participant and co-host countries. These individuals will be encouraged to post video messages on their social media accounts to potentially be amplified on U.S. Government and Summit platforms answering prompts, such as what democracy means to them. Upon completion of S4D2, Jessica is convening an interagency group to support the Summit’s production of a wrap video to highlight key moments of the Summit. The wrap video will promote the outcomes, commitments, and messaging of the Summit in an accessible product that will be produced quickly at the conclusion of the Summit – for promotion on a wide range of domestic and international platforms.
Developing Partnerships for Nonviolent Collective Action and Social Movements Ben Naimark-Rowse has been deeply engaged in socialization and education activities with USAID colleagues and our bilateral and multilateral partners. These activities have focused on helping our colleagues and partners develop a deep familiarity with the latest scholarship and practice on nonviolent collective action, social movements, and cross-border support for both. He has presented at USAID's Tuesday Group, the S4D Nonviolent Collective Action Workstream in the Civic Space Cohort, a USAID Spark Talk, and the 2022 DRG Conference Session on Democratic Reformers.
Georgia Program Gearing Up for Success
NGS is a subcontractor to Tetra Tech ARD on the USAID/Georgia Local Governance Program (2022-2027), supporting gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) as well as ongoing political economy analysis (PEA). During the last quarter, the NGS team – represented by Shorena Kobaidze and Christina Schultz – successfully submitted the GESI Plan.
...This is one of the most detailed and insightful analyses/plans completed by our partners, so kudos to Tetra Tech and NGS.
The plan this adheres to the USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy as well as the USAID Youth in Development Policy; it explores social, economic, and political issues affecting gender and youth. The plan also covers key needs, issues, opportunities, and constraints affecting GESI that will be addressed by the program. Upon submission, NGS received high praise from the USAID/Georgia Gender Advisor, who described the GESI Plan as: “a really well-done, comprehensive plan. This is one of the most detailed and insightful analyses/plans completed by our partners, so kudos to Tetra Tech and NGS."
Prioritizing GESI on Ukraine SOERA NGS’ work on the USAID/Ukraine State-Owned Enterprise Reform Activity (SOERA) continues to grow and evolve. The Year Three work plan, led by prime contractor Deloitte, was approved by USAID in early January, and we anticipate an increased focus on GESI, which will span across SOERA’s six components. Additionally, our draft Public Outreach Communications plan has been shared with stakeholders for feedback prior to finalization. The plan was designed to effectively promote the dissemination of information about the effectiveness and benefits of state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms and privatization efforts in Ukraine. This will guide project efforts in the next year.