In October 2018, 25 NGO leaders attended the NGO Leadership Workshop, an intensive four-day management training workshop designed to strengthen civil society in young democracies. This was the fourth annual workshop spearheaded by two University of Michigan units focused on strengthening emerging democracies: the Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia and the William Davidson Institute. This year the program moved from Slovakia to Poland, in cooperation with a third partner: the Warsaw-based Education for Democracy Foundation, which supports democratization and the development of civil society.

The 25 participants came from 12 countries where societies have undergone democratic transitions over the past three decades: Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. They represented NGOs that focus on democracy, economic development, the environment, human rights, youth, and civil society.

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who served as President of Poland from 1995-2005, delivered the workshop’s opening keynote address on the topic of leadership. He was introduced by Professor Geneviève Zubrzycki, director of the Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia. The opening morning session also featured words from former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Dan Fried, who shared his insights into authoritarianism and democracy.

One participant summarized the workshop as a “great opportunity for NGO practitioners to come together and discuss the most pressing challenges concerning the management and leadership at their organization. It is a venue that opens up new possibilities to think differently about crisis and change.”

The Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia and the William Davidson Institute look forward to offering another workshop with the Education for Democracy Foundation in Spring 2019.