Raymond Offenheiser, President and CEO of Oxfam America, as well as other senior Oxfam leaders, met in Seattle at The Great Nabob on Monday, July 8th to speak about Oxfam America and Oxfam International’s policy and advocacy work. The reception was hosted by Jonathan Scanlon, Lead Organizer, Economic Justice, of Oxfam America, and attracted a bustling crowd of business, government, and non-profit professionals. One couple in attendance have been supporters of Oxfam since 1974—as Oxfam America was founded in 1970, they are easily some of the earliest supporters, and demonstrate the engagement and dedication of Oxfam’s network of donors and volunteers.
A short presentation and overview of ongoing and planned development work by Oxfam staff highlighted important efforts, including the recent G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, the upcoming G20 Summit in Russia, Oxfam’s campaign to make U.S. foreign aid more effective, Oxfam’s work on food security, and their community outreach programs across the country. Barbara Durr, Oxfam America’s Deputy to the Vice President of Policy and Campaigns, oversees the Oxfam International Confederation Grant, which contributes to Oxfam’s advocacy work around the world. Her office additionally works to measure the impact of Oxfam’s work, evaluate it, and learn from the experience and data analysis. Durr expressed pride at the success of Oxfam’s programs as assessed by their evaluations, stating, “We are probably the best in the business”—though some campaigns are more challenging in terms of measuring effectiveness, Oxfam strives to be a leader in impact measurement.
We also heard from Janet VanZandt, Oxfam America’s Director of Institutional Support, about the transformation in the confederation of Oxfam chapters; three new members of the international Oxfam confederation are in development in India, Mexico, and Japan, and there are plans for a new, more streamlined Oxfam presence moving into the future, with a new website coming this summer. Staff members Steve Price-Thomas (G20/BRICSAM Strategy Manager, Oxfam International) and Kevin Roussel (Head of Essential Services, Oxfam International) emphasized Oxfam’s work in rising G-20 countries, where addressing issues of food security, global trade negotiations, and environmental issues has lead to discussions of how to lift people out of poverty. Core human rights issues of physical security, a sustainable livelihood, gender/religious/ethnic freedom, essential services (such as healthcare), and the right to be heard are a fundamental focus of Oxfam in the fight against injustice. As Price-Thomas succinctly describes, Oxfam’s driving goal is to “ensure that the world we’re going into will be a world we want to live in.”
With around 8,000 staff globally, working in 92 countries, and an estimated budget of 850-900 million dollars across all Oxfam confederation members, Oxfam is one of the top five development organizations worldwide. Attendees of this informative and fun reception had the opportunity to speak directly with staff members from Oxfam America and Oxfam International, including Offenheiser, Scanlon, VanZandt, Price-Thomas, and Roussel. Events such as this reception, whether hosted by Global Washington or by our members , not only provide insight into pressing policy and advocacy issues, but the chance to meet and connect with professionals that share a passion for development work.