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Leadership & Capacity Development

At Plan International USA, we believe that working with and through local partners is essential for strong sustainable development. Our Leadership and Capacity Development programs are grounded in an appreciation for the experience, expertise, and culture of local institutions and the professionals who work there. We believe that overarching systems, organizational capacity, and program quality are only as strong and sustainable as the people who lead, manage, and carry out the work. In particular, Plan knows that when we invest in the power and potential of women, the returns are seen in healthier and better educated children, stronger and more economically resilient families, and vibrant and thriving communities.

Our approach to leadership and capacity development was further enhanced by our acquisition of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) in 2012. As a leading international women’s NGO, globally recognized for its women’s leadership programs, CEDPA was one of the first international development organizations to focus on women’s issues, and its history, achievements, expertise, and tools add strength and breadth to Plan’s mission, programming, and reach.

In alignment with Plan’s values and approaches, CEDPA’s programming focused on working hand-in-hand with leaders, local partners, and national and international organizations to give people the tools they needed to improve their lives, families and communities. The organization’s programs increased educational opportunities for girls and youth; ensured access to lifesaving reproductive health and HIV/AIDS information and services; and strengthened women’s ability to become leaders in their communities and nations.

Informed by our history and experience, Plan adopts a comprehensive approach to local capacity development aimed at 1) enhanced personal leadership, managerial, and technical capabilities for increased confidence, competence, and commitment; 2) improved organizational systems, structures, and practices to promote high quality replicable programs, relevance in changing environments, and a focus on results; and 3) increased advocacy capacities and partnerships to secure supportive policies, programs, and resources in and across our priority sectors of education; protection; health; youth and economic empowerment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and disaster, resilience, and governance.

We train women leaders. We seek to unleash the leadership potential of women through our intensive and highly participatory workshops focused on building personal leadership, management, and technical skills for work in a variety of sectors. For more than 37 years, our globally-recognized workshops have brought together women leaders, managers, and service providers from more than 90 countries to build core competencies and create opportunities that expand self-confidence and self-awareness of women from civil society, corporate, public, and political sectors. In a recent evaluation of our 10-year Global Women in Management program, numerous alumni describe our training as “life changing and transformational.”

We support coaching and networking: Plan invests in our alumni beyond the workshops, through programs that encourage continued professional development and networking. Our unique south-south, woman-woman alumni coaching program provides graduates of our leadership workshops with a year of professional coaching from trained coaches living and working in their country or region. The coaching supports the application of newly acquired knowledge and skills, the development of client-driven strategies for addressing work-related barriers, and the broadening and deepening of relationships and networks with other women leaders. Alumni activities and communications sustain the global network and promote the sharing of resources and opportunities. We partner to strengthen local institutions. We support and collaborate with local nongovernmental organizations, CBOs, and government institutions in all of our community programming, incorporating capacity development at every possible opportunity. We do this through participatory capacity assessments and planning workshops; face-to-face training workshops and blended learning (with the Plan Academy); on-site technical assistance; and small grants, drawing on our inventory of tools, guides, and templates. Our goal is to contribute to the sustainability and effectiveness of local organizations—both formal and informal—by enhancing their ability to identify assets and needs and respond effectively and responsibly to community priorities.

We strengthen local advocacy capacity: For more than 20 years, we have led global, regional, and in-country efforts to develop the advocacy and policy analysis skills of women, men, and youth and help our partners create and sustain advocacy networks and coalitions in a variety of technical areas. Our proven approach to advocacy training and network formation, ongoing technical assistance, and small grants programs have been implemented successfully with civil society and government institutions at local, national, and global levels. We also have dedicated leadership and advocacy programs for women, with the goal of expanding the number of women champions and amplifying their role and voice in policy and decision-making. These women use their new skills and confidence to influence decisions about budget priorities and appropriation, access and quality of services, and issues of gender inequality.

We design and deliver customized training: Our training is grounded in the principles of adult learning and an appreciative approach to planned change. We work closely with partners and clients to determine training needs and custom design curricula to meet those needs. We facilitate training using an effective mix of methodologies to ensure the active engagement of participants in their own learning, and we evaluate the training at multiple levels. We also have an extensive catalog of widely tested leadership, management, organizational, and training-of-trainers curricula that can be quickly and easily adapted to meet client and participant needs. Many of our published manuals are highly valued resources within the development community and have been adopted and adapted by partner organizations in multiple languages.


Sue Richiedei, Senior Director - Leadership and Capacity Development

Send her an email.

Reports, Publications, & Training Manuals

Supervision Manual

Develops the knowledge, skills, and awareness of supervisors for more efficient supervision systems and approaches to supervision.

Social Mobilization for Reproductive Health Manual

Strengthens the efforts of development leaders and managers from both organizations and the public sector at national and grassroots levels to increase local participation and, simultaneously, women's empowerment.

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