President's Corner: Sam Worthington

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Samuel A. Worthington is president and CEO of InterAction, the nation’s largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations working internationally. InterAction leads, supports, and mobilizes its members to take collective action, improve the impact of their programs, increase their global reach, and advocate for efforts that advance human well-being around the world.  Worthington has represented U.S. NGOs and their programs before the U.S. Congress, administration, and media. Previously, he served from 1994 to 2006 as Chief Executive Officer of Plan USA, a global development NGO.

To learn more about Sam, please see his full bio.

Sam Worthington's Blog

The Evolving Role And Future Relevance Of The US NGO Sector

Dec. 18, 2014 - After 8 years serving at the helm of InterAction, the Board has graciously offered me a sabbatical, from later this month to early April, 2015. During this period I will have no access to e-mail, or any InterAction related work, and I welcome this opportunity to recharge and relax.  I am honored that for a part of the next three months I will be a resident policy fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy.  This is a welcomed chance to reflect upon our sector’s relevancy and evolving role.
The prevalent rhetoric within Washington development circles and the U.S. NGO community is that our job as international nonprofits is to “work ourselves out of existence.” Unfortunately, it is a misguided and potentially harmful goal. Now do not get me wrong, at some point official Northern aid may end, and we must stop paternalistic modes of working. Our sector does need to change and work ourselves into a new role. The idea of wanting a future where there is no role for U.S. or northern NGOs, fails to recognize that an internationally oriented civil society will always be needed to influence the public and private sectors in an increasingly global, multi-stakeholder world. NGOs as diplomatic actors in their own right are needed to influence global actors, including the private sector; they are needed to share ideas and practices across countries, to create a new global aid landscape, and engage in an endless stream of humanitarian crises.
Watch Sam discuss how NGOs can develop strategic partnerships with the private sector at the 2014 Business Call to Action Annual Forum.