Moynihan Transnational NGO Leadership Institute: 

Initial announcement of launch in September 2011 

 Maxwell LincolnIt has been our observation, as also supported by many of our TNGO practitioner colleagues, that the processes for securing and transitioning high quality leadership in TNGOs are underdeveloped. While transnational NGO leaders and their senior staffs have a number of opportunities to exchange experiences and perspectives with other leaders at global meetings, most gatherings focus on current political events, policy or campaign challenges. Additionally, very few forums lend themselves to leaders focusing exclusively on organizational challenges around governance, effectiveness and leadership issues.  Strikingly, second tier leadership is also often overlooked in these forums, yet these leaders are the ones dealing with day to day organizational challenges. How might TNGO leaders, particularly those at the second tier, become better equipped, more knowledgeable, and better connected with others as they serve their organizations in this critical capacity? What mediums exist for training and transitioning second tier leadership? The proposed Moynihan Transnational NGO Leadership Institute will address this specific gap.

Second tier leaders are senior staff members who currently fulfill roles such as Vice President, Assistant Secretary General, Deputy Executive Director and Senior Director within their organizations.  These NGO leaders are often much less ‘networked’ than top tier leaders. Moreover, when new top leadership needs to be identified for major TNGOs, they are mainly sought from within a very small circle of existing leaders rather than tapping into second tier leadership[1]. This practice makes achieving an appropriate balance in leadership in terms of gender, region, and sector, for example, more difficult and is unsustainable and probably unhealthy.

Also, in most existing forums, leaders primarily interact with others in their own sector, preventing cross-sectoral learning and often not ensuring cross-regional representation. Indeed, many TNGO leadership forums limit themselves to traditional style group discussion and exchange of ideas. More experiential styles of interaction, such as case study exercises and simulations, are lacking. Finally, existing leadership forums do not necessarily lead to concrete outputs useful to the individual participating TNGOs.

The Transnational NGO Leadership Institute will focus on leadership transition and will fill these gaps to ensure the proper preparation of incoming, second tier leaders in their evolution toward becoming the next generation of TNGO leadership. The Institute will take place annually for 1-2 weeks, and will consist of peer to peer learning opportunities as well as executive training, facilitated by Maxwell faculty and staff. More information about its curriculum, expected deliverables, targeted audiences, logistics, costs, registration procedures, etc. will be shared as they become available. For more information, please contact Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken (; phone +1.315.443.5073).

For a flyer announcing the first Leadership Institute, click here.  

[1] Personal communication of transnational civil society leader with author, Oct. 20, 2009