Volunteer of the Year Award 2017
Nominating Organization: IESC (International Executive Service Corps)
Hometown: Galveston, Texas
Current Home: Alexandria, Virginia
Lisa Larson is a high-energy leader and repeat volunteer, with more than 20 years of experience achieving results in engagement and change management. “I volunteer because I want to give my time and energy to something that gives back to me,” Ms. Larson said about her multiple volunteer assignments.
Ms. Larson completed a volunteer assignment with IESC on the Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations (CBCLO) Program. During her two-month assignment, Ms. Larson shared her expertise on process optimization, financial and monitoring evaluation systems to build the self-sustainability and capacity of local civil society organizations. In order to gauge organizations’ sustainability gaps, Ms. Larson developed a tool to measure the organizations’ readiness to transition from relying solely on donor funding to become a self-sustaining social enterprise. Based on the results of the assessment, Ms. Larson and the CBCLO field team developed a tailored assistance package that addressed the identified organizational gaps. The tool was exported to an online survey platform and administered to participating organizations. Since Ms. Larson’s assignment, every sustainability request that CBCLO responds to has been guided by this assessment tool. In addition to her own assignment, Ms. Larson made herself available as a constant resource to the volunteers that followed her, providing remote support long after she had finished her assignment.
Ms. Larson’s most recent volunteer assignment was in Lebanon with IESC for the Farmer-to-Farmer program, implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development. She developed a detailed strategic framework and next steps for a key rural tourism initiative, in partnership with 20 local municipalities and the government of Lebanon. The host organization was so impressed by the quality of Ms. Larson’s work that they invited her to return for a follow-up, longer-term assignment. In addition to her volunteering abroad and her consultancy, she has penned articles on a wide array of subjects, ranging from women leaders and politics to finance and sports.
“Using my skills in new ways gives me new perspectives on how to have a more purpose-driven career. Visiting places I would not ordinarily go and living and working with the most wonderful people—many of whom are close friends long after I leave—fills me with happiness and a sense of purpose.”
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