A group of fellows in the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program visited FHI 360, a Durham-based human development organization, on Friday to discuss nonprofit management with future Chief Executive Officer Patrick Fine. Fine, who will take the helm as CEO in May, has served as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer since last year.
Fine has more than 30 years of international development experience, spanning education, donor coordination, community development, public-private partnerships and work in conflict and post-conflict settings. He has lived and worked in more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Lesotho, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda.
Among other assignments, he has been USAID Mission Director in Afghanistan and was a vice president of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
During the meeting, Fine shared his vision for making FHI 360 a leader among international NGOs. He also offered his perspectives on balancing business needs and development needs, especially as nonprofit operations become more demanding and expensive.
“If we don’t run a successful and competitive business, we won’t be able to carry out our mission,” he said. “That means having good financial systems, human resources, client service and technical quality. We have to deliver and stand behind the quality of what we deliver.”
Fine asked MIDP fellows for their thoughts on how to stay relevant and competitive through the 21st century. Fellows shared several well-received ideas, including diversifying practice areas and funding, facilitating greater autonomy of country offices, and taking a more multidisciplinary approach to development.
Ana Lucia Garcia Briones (MIDP ’14) stressed the importance of using websites and social media to keep the public informed and engaged in the organization’s activities.
“They serve as a window to the inside to show how employees are learning and show the social profit you have created,” she said.
Fine promptly tweeted from his cell phone: “Terrific insights from Duke students at #DCID with new FHI360 CEO.”
Muyatwa Sitali, also a soon-to-be graduate of the MIDP program, said that effective nonprofit organizations have to be “multidimensional, agile and responsive and aim to be thought leaders.”
One major initiative that is currently under way at FHI 360, Fine responded, is called IMD, Integrated Multidisciplinary Development. This initiative is designed to identify ways to integrate the organization’s 11 focus areas – including health, education and the environment – to maximize impact.
He gave the example of a school feeding program in Uganda that was designed to increase parent involvement. In addition to accomplishing its original objective, the program had a number of other unforeseen positive outcomes, including better academic performance and attendance.
“By combining education and nutrition, we created a more beneficial and effective program,” he said. “If we can show funders they can get a better bang for their buck and communities will be better off, then that will influence how donors design projects and what communities demand.”
First-year MIDP fellow Marie Veyrier suggested that organizations increase decision-making power and mobility in their regionally-based offices. Such a move would give offices more flexibility to implement programs relevant to their communities, she said.
Laura Kayser, who is currently deputy COO, spoke about another FHI 360 initiative called CCD (Country-Centered Delivery), which develops leadership capacity in FHI 360’s country offices in Asia, Africa and the U.S. It also promotes a more strategic and flexible approach to programming based on countries’ individual needs and circumstances.
In addition to skills and experience, Fine said, FHI 360 is looking for dedication and passion in its project managers and technical experts to help the organization achieve its vision for the 21st century.
“The people we get are people who really want to make a positive difference in the world,” he said. “There is a strong emphasis on the impact of our programs and the value and purpose of the organization, which is to build a better world and create lasting opportunities for people.”