In September 2023, 24 NGO leaders from across Ukraine convened in Lublin, Poland to complete an interactive four-day workshop focused on well-being, resilience building, avoiding burnout, strategic planning in crisis, and supporting people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The workshop also provided an opportunity to network and share best practices in a safe, welcoming environment. It was the first NGO Leadership Workshop designed for NGO leaders from Ukraine and was created in response to the needs resulting from the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It also marked the 10th in-person workshop organized by WCEE and U-M’s William Davidson Institute (WDI) and 4th in partnership with the Warsaw-based NGO Education for Democracy Foundation (FED).
Participants were selected through an open application process and attended at no charge. Their NGOs address critical needs in Ukraine, such as providing vital medical services, offering psychological assistance, defending human rights, providing legal services, and preserving Ukrainian cultural heritage.
The opening reception was hosted by the City of Lublin’s International Cooperation Centre in the historic Crown Tribunal city hall. WCEE Director Geneviève Zubrzycki welcomed participants and shared remarks from former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ronald N. Weiser and current U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, highlighting the significance of this workshop and the sustained commitment of the U.S. and Poland to supporting Ukraine.
Workshop sessions focused on networking, well-being/burnout prevention, resilience, strategic planning in crisis, negotiations, and conflict resolution. Participants and organizers also toured Lublin’s old town and learned about the city’s historical and cultural significance. The week concluded with thoughtful reflection on lessons learned, a certificate ceremony, and a festive closing dinner with modern Polish cuisine.
Participant evaluations were very positive, with all reporting that they would recommend the training to others in their field.
Amy Gillett, Vice President of Education at the William Davidson Institute, also reflected on the week through a Q+A “How a Workshop Lifts NGOs in Ukraine”.