Rodger Bennett: 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award Nominee
This article was originally written by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
Rodger Bennett was tasked with energizing the Zanzibar Association of Local Government Authorities (ZALGA) by laying an organizational foundation to increase its effectiveness in attracting and serving local government members and lobbying for their interests. His proactive approach to capacity building and technical support through the Enabling Growth Through Investment and Enterprise (ENGINE) program facilitated the relaunch of ZALGA as an organization and oriented ZALGA leaders on the need to mobilize members and sensitize them to the organization’s purpose.
Prior to Bennett’s intervention, ZALGA was weak and non-functional. It lacked a proper membership roster; it did not have a service charter; and it had an outdated and weak constitution. Bennett effectively facilitated the re-writing of ZALGA’s constitution and the development of an action plan and budget. He helped leaders mobilize members and sensitized them to participate in the annual general meeting that approved the constitution, elected new leaders and made a proposal to recruit a CEO.
ZALGA was freshly re-launched and is now an active public-sector representative organization, as described in this news release from IESC, the primary implementer of the ENGINE project.
Khatib Abdulrahman Khatib, mayor of Zanzibar and ZALGA chairperson, said, “We have many outstanding issues to address but the platform was not there [prior to the interventions by Bennett and ENGINE]. We had a gap and ZALGA bridges that gap. By addressing the educational needs, we will ensure that the community is more proactive in the civic process.”
Bennett’s local newspaper highlighted his work in a news article after his return from the assignment, saying, “Once in a while, an individual gets to make a real difference in the world. Imagine having the opportunity to make a contribution that will significantly impact tens of thousands of people. That is clearly the case for . . . Rodger Bennett.”
Bennett has more than 40 years of experience managing local government and has been active in ICMA committees, task forces and other activities. ICMA published this article about his work in Zanzibar. Bennet said, “It is truly gratifying to have the opportunity to share experience with people who have had different backgrounds than my own. The chance to work with the local government officials of Zanzibar has been one of the highlights of a career.”