After a year as the YPARD Steering Committee (SC)’s chairperson, I am now stepping down with an incredible team taking over! I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past year and the foundations it creates for the new leadership and management to thrive!
Meet the new SC Chairperson Sebastian Pedraza and two additional members in the SC team: Marina Venancio from Brazil and Jim Cano from the Philippines. Over the past year and a half as an SC member, Sebastian has proven to be a proactive and collaborative leader. He has made wonders as the public face of the YPARD SC in international webinar discussions. He also built partnerships and revived a coordinated team in Latin America and the Caribbean. I can’t wait to see his magic operate even more on a global level! Marina and Jim were both country representatives at YPARD. They are multi-faceted professionals with extensive experience in international youth engagement for sustainable food systems. They bring strong networks in the international agricultural development arena and many different expertises from environmental law to agri-tech management, youth policy advocacy, etc.
The team is starting on a new page after an eventful past year:
- We surfed the wave of the Covid19 crisis and related budget cuts that struck many organizations. We were able to develop a 5year action plan for 2021-2025 and to build a strategic partnership that allows more operational flexibility.
- We regenerated the foundations for cohesive international community dynamics within the worldwide team. It started within the SC and expanded to the broader team. For instance, at a time of difficult decisions to make last year, we organized online meetings with the YPARD Team of country and regional chapters to inform them thoroughly about the situation, discuss and get their say on the future they want for YPARD. They were also solicited to elaborate the YPARD’s Diversity and Inclusion Manifesto, to ensure and affirm social justice in YPARD’s values and ways of working. Also, regular interviews were conducted with members, partners and regional units to make sure that their perspectives, successes, challenges and ideas are addressed and supported on a global strategic and managerial level. This was very well received from the team and their engagement was extremely encouraging.
- We recently recruited and coached new pillars in the Global Coordination Unit: Genna Tesdall as the YPARD Director and Glindys Virginia Luciano as the Network Engagement Coordinator. Genna and Glindys have both embraced the YPARD’s vision and reality in record time and it’s been a joy to work with them! You can read Genna’s very inspiring letter to the community and watch Glindys’ video.
- We started to restore a culture of Organizational Knowledge Management to capture and leverage where we are coming from in terms of strategies and processes and enable us to be innovative without re-inventing the wheel. This is particularly key in an agile and dynamic structure, to ensure flawless transitions.
What’s left as challenges have felt like a curse since my first involvement with YPARD exactly 10 years ago. Despite the evidence of incredibly talented young professionals doing loads of work to make a change for good, young people are not taken seriously. Would that be the cost for shaking the status quo a bit too hard - despite the need for radical change? Power dynamics and conflicting interests are strong, young people are yet taken too often as free labor, the sustainability of YPARD is thus still and again the bottleneck, and exchanging constructive feedback to make everyone prosper is yet a skill to acquire and/or perhaps a currency used to keep control.
But what I see is hope. Yesterday’s great achievements are milestones on the road and it is a relief to know that the new leadership and management team – through the Global Coordination Unit and Steering Committee - hold the value of YPARD as a youth-led international network for sustainable food systems and that they will take the work forward with passion and willpower. The leadership’s strength is to live, protect and nurture the culture and legacy of YPARD as an energized community owning the network. They have affirmed their commitment to more collaboration and strengthened ties with the YPARD Team and partners all around the world, and for finding innovative solutions to ensure YPARD’s sustainability.