Volunteer Impact

Susan Gurley

  • Susan Gurley

Susan Gurley: 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award Nominee

Susan Gurley is a leader in the nonprofit world. For more than 20 years, she has worked in international development, access to justice, and higher education management. Her career has taken her to more than 50 countries, and she has managed programs in areas such as legal and regulatory reform, trade and investment, economic growth, private sector reform, and capacity building. In June 2016, Susan volunteered as a capacity-building specialist for the Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations Program. During her assignment, she provided a wide range of training and mentoring services to help assist local organizations that are guided by strong missions to help the people of Cambodia.

To promote organizational sustainability, Susan led a training session on board governance and sustainability for representatives from 19 Cambodian organizations. Susan explained how NGOs can find alternative sources of funding to ensure their long-term stability and sustainability. She also provided one-on-one technical support and mentoring on strategic planning to nine organizations. Susan focused on best practices for plan implementation and amending the plans. Being a passionate proponent of women’s empowerment, Susan participated in a program-sponsored networking event called ‘Empowering Young Women Leaders and Gender Equality.’ About 40 people from 26 NGOs attended the event.

During her one-on-one sessions with NGOs, Susan was able to effectively identify organizational knowledge gaps in strategic plan development, which allowed her to provide tailored support to each of the nine NGOs. She also identified that while many NGOs have strategic plans in place, they nevertheless lack information on how to secure funding to support their present and future goals. Seeing an opportunity, Susan made recommendations to the program on how it can better assist local organizations with a fundraising strategy that will compensate for dwindling donor funds.

Additionally, Susan provided extensive targeted support to Reproductive and Child Health Alliance to improve their internal functioning, particularly as it relates to personnel. Thanks to Susan’s help, RACHA has replaced a key staff member that better fits their organizational needs.

While it is difficult to quantify capacity-building efforts and outcomes, Susan was praised by all who attended her training sessions, received one-on-one mentoring, or participated in the networking event. People remarked on the quality and delivery of her presentations. Susan is incredibly kind and easily establishes a good rapport with participants and the program field office team in Cambodia, and many of them maintain an ongoing relationship with Susan.

Even months after her last assignment, Susan provides mentorship and support to beneficiaries in Cambodia. She regularly sends them updates on funding trends and scholarship opportunities, because she knows they do not have access to some the resources we have in the United States.

This article was originally written by IESC.