From Maxwell Perspective...

Consensus Building

Kimberly Darter ‘05 MA (IR)

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Kimberly Darter
Kimberly Darter, of InterAction

In 1999, her senior year at the University of Oregon, political science major Kimberly Darter accepted a one-year scholarship at Kuwait University’s Language Center. Completing her studies, she then accepted a short-term contract as a conference coordinator for the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, in Abu Dhabi. By the end of 2000, with a B.A., competence in basic Arabic, and some well-earned experience in hand, Darter says, “I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in international relations.” That’s what brought her to Maxwell.

Since 2006, Darter has been working with InterAction (IA), the largest alliance of U.S.-based NGOs focused on poverty and the world’s poor. IA is a powerful voice that represents nearly 200 member organizations. In her position as coordinator for global partnerships, Darter serves as a liaison with IA’s international partners, which allows her to work with NGO coalitions around the world. She’s had work experience in nine countries on three continents.

"Forging partnerships and consensus can be a rewarding process.”It was early in her time at IA, while working on an initiative in five African countries, that Darter learned a key lesson. “The common element among the successful efforts was the commitment of each partner to build and foster respectful relationships,” she says. “This may seem obvious but it’s remarkable how often its importance is overlooked.”

Currently, Darter is focused on issues related to the effectiveness of development aid, coordinating a group (made up of IA members) that guides IA’s work on the effectiveness of aid and development. Its work will help inform a series of high-level forums on aid effectiveness, starting next year. “IA has an important contribution to make, drawing on the vast range of our members’ experience,” Darter says.

“Forging partnerships and consensus can be a difficult but ultimately rewarding process,” says Darter, adding that outcomes often depend on building the sort of relationships that bridge differences. The understanding that IA helps engender will ultimately “impact the work that our members do and the context in which they do it.

“Building relationships that make this possible,” Darter concludes, “is a great satisfaction.”

This article appeared in the fall 2010 print edition of Maxwell Perspective; © 2010 Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail