It appears that 2014 will be a year of transitions for CONCORD, the European confederation of nongovernmental organizations.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Devex Associate Editor Richard Jones sat down with new CONCORD CEO Seamus Jeffreson to talk about the current challenges European aid groups are facing, and what direction the confederation is expected to take this year.
Now, leaving her post as country director at ActionAid International — a CONCORD member organization — incumbent CONCORD President Joanna Maycock has announced that she will step down in June after the next general assembly.
“I have accepted the position of secretary general at the European Women’s Lobby. As you may know women’s rights are a key passion of mine, and I am excited to have the opportunity to bring my leadership skills more directly into the women’s movement at such dynamic time in its history,” she said in an email statement sent to members.
Upon her departure, Maycock will have served president of CONCORD for two years, during which time she underscored the need for European NGOs to adapt to the changing global development landscape.
One of her most memorable lines was: ”It’s time to time tell a clearer story of who we are and where we want to be.”
Maycock took over the role of president at a time when donors were tightening or even cutting their aid budgets, and the need to show impact for aid money spent ever more pressing.
“It’s clear that business as usual is not an option! The political space as well as funding [civil society organizations] are dwindling, and too often our work is reactive instead of proactive to the political agenda,” she argued in a 2012 blog post.
How Maycock fared on pushing that agenda forward is unclear, but in 2013, under her leadership, CONCORD started discussions on a new political narrative that, as she put it, “will set out our vision of where we want to take the sector in the next years, so that we can collectively increase our impact on poverty and injustice.”
That narrative has yet to be finalized, as Jeffreson indicated in his interview with Devex: “Like any organization, we’re looking ahead and I think that continues this debate about the so-called political narrative and asking ourselves — and those around us, including our southern partners — what we should be doing in the years ahead.”
But it’s clear Maycock has set the tone and given the confederation some momentum on the issue.
Who will be appointed as the next president is still unknown. CONCORD’s Communications Officer Daniel Puglisi told Devex that no names have yet been discussed officially, although candidates are “usually known” weeks before the confederation’s annual general assembly, which this year takes place on June 4-5.
CEO Jeffreson told Devex that the confederation’s priorities in 2014 included obtaining some leverage after the upcoming European elections and appointment of a new European Commission, as well as focusing efforts toward the Beyond 2015 initiative, expanding partnerships and alliances, and developing a new multiannual strategy.
The new figurehead at the confederation is therefore set to preside over a very busy year ahead.
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