May 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to the May 2013 issue of the Global Washington newsletter. If you would like to contact us directly, please email us.


Note from our Executive Director

Bookda Gheisar


From our member only “Dr. Is In” training sessions to our regional Global Socials, we have been busy with events lately! Do check out our members only series that supports the capacity building needs of your organizations.  We hope you are able to attend and contribute to these conversations with experts in the field of Impact, Evaluation, Strategic Planning and Overhead this month!

We are always excited to highlight innovative global development work or keep you informed about important trends in the field. Earlier this spring, the Seattle International Foundation launched the Seattle Ambassador campaign with the Seattle Mayor’s Office. This city-wide campaign will raise awareness about local institutions working to alleviate poverty around the world and ask individuals to lend their support to our community’s vibrant global development sector. We encourage you to check out the campaign and share this opportunity with your networks. For more information, visit

Finally, don’t leave for your summer vacation without putting a few important dates on your calendar! June 20th will be our 2nd Change-Up event with Humanosphere. These casual happy hour events give those in the Seattle area who are engaged with or interested in international development the chance to discuss trends in the sector and share a pint. We hope to see you there! Also, save the date of November 13th for Global Washington’s 5th Annual Conference. More details about our conference will be announced soon!

In unity,

Bookda Gheisar, Executive Director

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GlobalWA will ask you a question every month and synthesize the responses and make available to our member organizations. Please take a moment to respond to the question for this month:

What summer activities and opportunities would you recommend for globally engaged kids in Seattle?

Please click here to respond

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Featured Organization

Off-grid solar energy for a brighter future

By Sara Veltkamp

solar-nexus-international-logoIf I entered the following keywords on a career website: international travel, off-grid alternative energy, expedition, engineering, and philanthropy, the search engine would probably not produce many positions satisfying all the conditions.  But after my interview with Eric Youngren, founder and CEO of Solar Nexus International (SNI), I know one job that does: his.

Founded in 2008, SNI is a small, value-added distribution company based out of Orcas Island that designs off-grid solar energy solutions particularly suited for the developing world due to their relatively easy installation, durability, and standardization of parts.  The main component of the off-grid system, called the Solar Nexus, is a pre-wired power center that contains all of the necessary components to convert solar energy into usable power.

Solar energy in the developing world

Why is this type of pre-wired system ideal for the developing world?  Ninety per cent of these areas are without safe, reliable power.  While solar power is a free, green resource and the necessary technology has been developed to convert it to usable power, Youngren found that this resource was often not being used because poor installation procedures were giving it a reputation for being unreliable.  Therefore, to simplify the complicated installation process, Youngren designed the pre-wired Solar Nexus, complete with thorough step-by step instructions that a skilled do-it-yourselfer or general contractor can install with relative ease.

sni-eric-youngrenHe also offers his installation services, if desired.  A former wilderness expedition leader in Washington State, Alaska, Patagonia, and Mexico, he plans for the job of installing solar power systems in Africa the same way he plans for extended wilderness trips, or “expedition-style solar” as he calls it.  When hiking in the wilderness, it is important to be completely self-sufficient.  Similarly, in remote locations like Chole, a small island off the coast of Tanzania, a missing part means a trip back to the mainland by a small boat, research on a patchy internet system to find available parts, and maybe a special delivery from Europe or the US to receive it.  Therefore, he plans installation projects with the assumption that what he brings is what he uses.  In practical terms, this means meticulous planning, lots of lists, spare parts, thorough contingency plans, and a sense of adventure.

A former executive manager at Rainshadow Solar, Youngren had “fallen in love” with the off-grid segment of the solar industry and decided that he would begin his own company specializing in off-grid systems in 2008.  Because most people live connected to the grid in the US, the market for off-grid solutions is limited to those who live in remote locations such as small islands that are not connected to the main power sources.  However, for those living in the developing world, off-grid solar power also provides an alternative to frequent power cuts and expensive diesel-powered generators.

After designing the company’s website with this market in mind, he received a request to design a system for a historic sugar plantation on St. Kitts in the West Indies.  Upon successful completion of that project, Youngren was approached by missionaries Herb and Martha Reynolds from West African Vocational Schools (WAVS)—also a Global Washington member.  They needed an off-grid solar power system to run computers, sewing machines, lighting, and an auto mechanics shop at their main project site in Canchungo, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.   After a careful study of their plans, Youngren decided that their needs were very similar to the needs of the plantation in St. Kitts, and designed a similar system for WAVS, with one important difference: he volunteered the labor for installation.

Youngren’s trip to West Africa for the installation of WAVS system set things in motion for SNI.  Following installation in Guinea-Bissau, Youngren extended his ticket and met with a friend who was managing operations in Tanzania for SolarAid, a UK-based NGO that provides solar solutions to schools and other service centers.  Motivated by the need for a simplified installation process, when Youngren returned to Washington, he designed the pre-wired Solar Nexus and sold over 100 systems to SolarAid.  This organization used his technology to provide schools, community centers, and medical clinics with the necessary, safe, and reliable power to operate.  Because of the quality of his work and the support he received from those who saw his work in action, Youngren’s systems were specified for the USAID-funded 21st Century Basic Education (TZ21) project to build over 1,200 ICT and off-grid power systems in primary schools across two regions of Tanzania, this time working in collaboration with Inveneo, a San Francisco-based NGO.

Now and the future

And that is where Eric Youngren is today: training technicians and installing power systems in Tanzania.  Many things have come together in the formation and development of his business; his love for international travel, his socially-minded motivation to do something that helps people beyond making a profit, and his niche expertise in off-grid solar power.  The model is an inspiration to anyone with an idea, a unique set of skills, and a desire to improve the situation of those living in the developing world.

As the company creates new connections and grows, Youngren sees opportunities in many different areas of the world.  While the Solar Nexus was originally designed for Africa, the use of an easily-installed and high quality solar power system could bring power to remote areas in Southeast Asia, Central America, or the Middle East.  This is a very dynamic and exciting business and Youngren, “feel[s] lucky to have found something deeply rewarding on so many different levels.”

For more information on Solar Nexus International and to explore how your organization could use solar power for your developing world projects, please visit the website at:

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Education, opportunity, and experience: Vicki Weeks

By Anna Jensen-Clem

changemaker-vicki weeks-1“I have chosen to see every potential roadblock as an opportunity, and have usually been fortunate enough to find my way around them.” This philosophy has formed the backbone of the work of Vicki Weeks, this month’s Global Washington Changemaker. Formerly at the Lakeside School, Weeks is currently the founder and manager of Global Weeks, a consulting firm that coordinates with schools on their global education initiatives, including international trips for groups of middle and high school students.

Growing up in the Seattle area, Weeks was always “fascinated by other cultures” and enamored with languages; she used to say that when she grew up, she wanted to “travel the world and talk to people.” Now she does that for a living! After spending 13 years developing global education programs at the Lakeside School in North Seattle, Weeks founded Global Weeks to assist other schools as they develop global programs including service learning, online partnerships, curriculum enhancement and exchange programs.  She wants to “help others broaden their perspective globally and locally . . . by having a transformational experience overseas, a person will develop empathy toward others and both agency and desire to work in the local community.” Empathy and community engagement are core pillars of Global Weeks; in 30 years of working with youth, Weeks argues, global education is one of the only curricula “with the power to transform young people so quickly” and it encourages them to foster development and involvement in their own communities. Although she has encountered resistance from some who argue that international experience is not essential or in some cases even desirable, Weeks says that the connection between a meaningful global experience and a relevant local project creates the biggest impact for students who then help effect change in their own communities.

changemaker-vicki weeks-2Global education is especially important in Washington State, since more than 40% of jobs here are tied to international trade and the job market is increasingly diverse and complex; employers look for a broad skill set for any open position, and qualified candidates must be able to communicate cross-culturally, adapt to new situations, and develop strategies to work together, in addition to mastering skills specific to their chosen field. In this environment, teaching students to be flexible, open, and empathetic is key to developing a stronger workforce and global citizenry. Weeks notes that Washington State is geographically and politically unique; in addition to the large numbers of international businesses and nonprofits located here, Washington is “divided into two parts with very different politics and cultures, [so] we stand to learn a great deal about the global nature of our own population.”

Although her current work focus is primarily developing international programs, Weeks hopes that global education will someday be a seamless component of everyday curricula across all grade levels. “I look forward to the day ‘global education’ is just called ‘education,’ since all education is global.  Global is everything.  It is how we see ourselves in relation to the world, its people and its systems.  As technology brings us closer together, it is all the more important we learn to understand the ways in which we are different as well as the ways in which we are the same, so that we can all share the planet and work toward peace.”

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Welcome new members

Please welcome our newest Global Washington members. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with their work and consider opportunities for support and collaboration!

At VenturScale, we believe business should go beyond making a profit, to be a positive force for social progress. Our services provide value-driven business the tools they need to leverage their potential and achieve their full impact.

Relief and Education for Afghan Children
REACH is dedicated to educating children, especially girls, in rural Afghanistan.  REACH started raising money to help villagers build schools in rural areas of Afghanistan in 2002. Rural areas, in general, have been given a lower priority for school construction by the government due to limited resources.  We have provided the funding for five schools in the rural area around Herat, Afghanistan.  There are now over 1400 students enrolled in the schools we have financed.  We are currently raising funds for a sixth school.

Mission Africa
Mission Africa aims to empower children and families in the remote villages of Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya by providing support in three core arrears education, healthcare and poverty alleviation.

Vatheuer Family Foundation
Michele Moore

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Global Health Metrics and Evaluation Conference:
Data, Debates, Directions

The GHME conference brings together under one roof all the disciplines involved in global health measurement and evaluation to share innovative tools and methods to promote a better understanding of the possible approaches to population health measurement. By recognizing the importance of transparency in research, GHME encourages discussion and debate, with the purpose of improving the latest tools, technology, and methods and their implementation in global health.

Hosted by:

  • Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington
    The Lancet
  • Harvard School of Public Health
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

June 17-19
The Westin Seattle

To register visit the conference website at

Billions Rising is Hosting a Global Video Contest!

Submit a video of someone in your area – even yourself – who is Empowering Others to Become Self-Reliant! Your video may win and be included in our “Billions Rising” Documentary!

Visit for more information. launches online store to connect nonprofits with affordable computer hardware

InterConnection makes technology accessible to nonprofit organizations and underserved communities, regardless of their geographic location or economic resources. InterConnection’s new online store helps accomplish this mission by making quality refurbished laptops and desktops easy to order and purchase. Computer’s start at $99 and nonprofits can choose from a variety of name brand hardware with Windows 7 Pro and Office 2007 pre-installed. The store‘s web address is

GlobalWA member organizations receive a %10 discount on purchases.

2013 Global Humanitarian Engineering Awards

The Global Humanitarian Engineering Awards (GHEA) 2013 seeks to celebrate achievements in the field of humanitarian engineering, where humanitarian engineering is defined as the application of engineering expertise for communities in circumstances of need; including disaster relief, poverty alleviation, and disability access.

Nominations close June 2nd 2013.

For more information and to nominate visit:

Songea Soirée: Safari to Success

2013 Dinner & Silent Auction

Please join us for a festive evening. Give Life and Hope to Songea’s orphans.
Nashon Kikalao, Songea’s Kids special envoy in Tanzania is the keynote speaker.

$100 per person includes drinks, appetizers, dinner, dessert, beverages, museum entrance fee

Thursday, June 6, 2013

NW African American Museum
2300 South Massachusetts Street
Seattle 98144

Event details:

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Career Center

Highlighted Paid Position

Development Director- Landesa
The Development Director (Director) will provide leadership for Landesa by playing a lead role for the organization’s individual donor strategy, with a major emphasis on growing the base of support from major donors and family foundations. The Director of Development will research, identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward major gift donors, and will also direct donor communications strategies. S/He will manage the major gifts staff and program, organize events and write customized proposal and other donor materials as necessary. The Director is expected to manage a portfolio of major gift prospects and maintain their donor records in Landesa’s database (Raiser’s Edge). More

Highlighted Volunteer Opportunity

Summer Volunteer-GlobalWA
Knowledge of and interest in global development issues; experience in research and data collection; high-level professional and interpersonal skills; ability to work independently and as part of a team; strong writing skills. Available volunteer opportunities in: global education initiative, newsletter, data entry, event planning, policy research and career center. More

Highlighted Internship Opportunity

Graduate-level Internship-HPV Vaccine, Vaccine Access & Delivery-PATH
Applications for this internship will be accepted until June 1st, 2013. We encourage students who are interested in this opportunity to submit an application as soon as possible. This internship will be for three months and will offer a monthly stipend of USD 1,250/month. The start date of the internship is anticipated to be in June or July. Additionally, please note internships with PATH are contingent upon the Intern providing documented proof of identity and eligibility to participate in a paid or unpaid practical training program in the United States, in accordance with federal immigration law. Please include a cover letter with your application. More

For more jobs and resources, visit

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GlobalWA Events

May 22
Dr. Is In //Everything You Want to Know About Fundraising & Events (members only)

May 29
Dr. Is In // Legal Matters Every International Nonprofit Should be Aware of (members only)

May 29
A Discussion with Engineers Without Borders Founder Dr. Bernard Amadei

June 5
Dr. Is In // Evidence of Impact & Evaluation Part 1 (members only)

June 12
Dr. Is In // Evidence of Impact & Evaluation Part 2 (members only)

June 12
Global Social – Kenya & East Africa

June 13
Dr. Is In // Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Overhead (members only)

June 13
Brownbag for Executive Directors & CEOs (members only)

June 19
Dr. Is In // Strategic Planning for Nonprofits Part 1 (members only)

June 26
Dr. Is In // Strategic Planning for Nonprofits Part 2 (members only)

June 20
Change-Up with friends of GlobalWA & Humanosphere

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Contributors: Sara Veltkamp, Amanda Bidwell, Winona Rennick, Anna Jensen-Clem