Seattle Works Executive Director, Ben Reuler (far left) with IVLP visitors after participating in a discussion on NGO management & board diversification.
In our community spotlight this week, Seattle Works!
Seattle Works was founded in 1989 as an avenue for young people to engage with and become more involved in the Seattle community. Thirty years later, this local nonprofit has become a staple in community and relationship building; connecting thousands of volunteers to numerous nonprofits throughout the city; implementing board training programs and consulting with organizations and corporations on board diversification; and leading by example in advancing an anti-racist mission, uplifting all voices to create lasting and positive social change and community resiliency.
For the past five years, Executive Director, Ben Reuler, along with the amazing Seattle Works staff, have done and continue to do the work in addressing inequality, racism, and discrimination within the Seattle community. Through local action and incorporating equity into their own core programs such as Team Works, Seattle Works Day, and the Bridge Board Training Program, Seattle Works continues to build a diverse and welcoming community of staff, partners, and community members all working together to transform how people and institutions connect in Seattle; help community members plug into their city; develop the community's next leaders; and partner with nonprofit organizations big and small to build their capacity.
At the forefront of transformational nonprofit and NGO management, Seattle Works continues to utilize its platforms and resources to educate, collaborate, and engage with the local community, national partners, and international leaders. One example of how they are doing this, with help from the World Affairs Council of Seattle, is by meeting with international visitors in the nonprofit sector, participating in the U.S. State Department’s premier professional exchange program, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) currently celebrating its 80th Anniversary. Seattle Works regularly meets with international visitors through this program, discussing their wide range of volunteer services, leadership training, and meet-up experiences and providing insight into how the organization centers authentic relationships to foster a healthy community and an enduring culture of belonging for all. The most recent IVLP group to meet with Seattle Works was a group of 19 international visitors from around the world, visiting Seattle this past February to learn more about NGO Management, board diversification, and building a strong volunteer network.
Executive Director, Ben Reuler, describes his experiences working with the World Affairs Council and participating in the IVLP as a community partner:
“The experiences have all been great. At first, we did it as a favor, for goodwill – more like an obligation, we felt guilty if we said No. Now, we consider participation in the IVLP as a true gift for our staff and organization. One experience that stood out was when I invited members of a delegation to my home for dinner, and ended up hosting people from Namibia, Nigeria, and Zambia. The opportunity to break bread together and compare notes on NGO management and social issues spanning continents was so, so special. And they were so homesick by that point of their trip that it felt good to help them get out of their hotel for a family dinner.”
Ben Reuler & wife (right) hosting dinner at their home for international visitors participating in the IVLP on NGO Management, Feb. 2020.
“Participation with the World Affairs Council has been super helpful in staying connected to a global network of changemakers. Also, our affiliation with the international Points of Light network, the world’s largest volunteer community, has been helpful in this regard.”
“It’s fun, it’s educational, it’s also our responsibility. One of our goals at Seattle Works is that we are building a diverse and welcoming community. Part of that means being responsible hosts and ambassadors for our region. One time a delegation from Haiti even joined our organization’s monthly meetup for BIPOC members of our community. It made us feel good to help international visitors feel included, seen, and engaged.”
Seattle Works Senior Program Manager, LaTashia Treise (Center) with World Affairs Council staff & “Women as Change Makers in Economic & Social Development” IVLP visitors from Haiti attending the Impact Hub: POC Meet-Up, now BIPOC Link-Up. Mar. 2019.
These thoughtful responses truly showcase the importance of international exchange and the value of connecting and building genuine relationships with people from all walks of life. Ben said it best:
“The world is small! We keep in touch with people from all over the world and share resources. I am always blown away by how universal the issues of NGO board management are!”
Whether it’s NGO management, women as change-makers, social justice, community engagement, etc., all it takes is a single conversation to create a ripple of change across borders. International exchange programs, like the IVLP, foster unique opportunities for meaningful dialogue on critical topics and encourage citizen diplomacy. Now more than ever, finding creative ways to connect, share ideas, and educate ourselves on the issues impacting the global community is what we need more of and so, we would like to thank Seattle Works, not only for the work you are doing in our local community but for creating lasting connections with our international visitors and always making them feel at home while they are here. We can’t wait to work with you again soon!
- If you would like to learn more about Seattle Works, please click here.
- For more information on how Seattle Works is addressing race, power, and privilege, both within their organization and in the Seattle community, check out their reflections on dismantling racism.
- If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities to help the Seattle community during COVID-19, please reference their volunteer calendar.
- For more information on the BIPOC Link-Up, click here. Seattle Works also launched a White Caucus.
- Lastly, Seattle Works has recently become the fiscal sponsor for the Mothers of Color COVID-19 Grant. Learn more.
By Julianna Patterson, Program Coordinator & Seattle Works Board Member