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15 Nonprofit Leaders from Seven Organizations Spend Five Days Training to Better the Community

CUENCA—Fundación Hearts of Gold brought together 15 participants from seven non-profit and grassroots organizations in a first of its kind Ecuadorian five-day training session to unite local leaders and foster a sense of community and support.

The intense program took place May 2-6.  The workshop was facilitated by the Libre Foundation of Holland.  Hearts of Gold was accepted by the Libre Foundation to be the local host and organizer of the workshop.  While the Libre Foundation has done these workshops all over the world, the one in Cuenca was the very first in Ecuador.

“After the workshop concluded, we truly feel as though we have planted the seeds for a network of non-profit and grassroots leaders in Ecuador,” said Natasha Verkley, executive director of Hearts of Gold.  “We laughed. We cried. We became stronger leaders. We learned more about ourselves, and about our comrades who each make a difference in their communities.”

Francesco Melita and Janneke Bruil were the facilitators of the training.  Participants represented Fundación Hearts of Gold, Fundación El Arenal, NOVA Educational Center, CETAP-Lucy, Proyecto Saman, ADACAPIA, Fundación Cecilia Rivadierna, and FUPEC.

“It is an enormous commitment for these leaders to make themselves available for five-straight days,” added Verkley.  “It shows how much dedication and passion they possess.  They really desire to become changemakers.”

The facilitators were able to unite the participants as they explored themes of leadership and communication. Throughout the week, the group discovered leadership styles, methods of conflict management, active listening, self-care, how to give feedback, how to motivate a team, how to communicate effectively and how to use a process of Appreciative Inquiry to discover, dream, plan and reach goals.

In solidarity we stand, hand in hand, as leaders of local community change!

Additional elements of the education included exploring what type of leader they wanted to become. “It was very clear that every participant was a naturally born leader. Each exhibited their own strengths, and participants demonstrated the complex skills and inherent talents it takes to lead a non-profit, and recognized the challenges that come along with taking on the job,” said Verkley. Verkley continued,

“The style of the workshop allowed us to develop as individuals, but also think strategically about our organizations and how we can use our talents, skills and intuitions to make ourselves the best we can be. We were able to work as a group, break out into smaller groups, and succeed individually through a variety of creative, thought-provoking activities and discussions.”

Miriam Maldonado, Director of Centro Educativo NOVA, said,

“For me this workshop was a space that enriched me personally and professionally, a space that created an experience full of emotions and lessons learned.”

Another participant,  Rocio  Illescas, Director of CETAP-Lucy, added,

“I would like to send a huge thank you for the grand initiative that Hearts of Gold gave us in order to help us develop our capacities as leaders with the theme of communication. We are delighted that today we can share this information with our own team here at CETAP-Lucy. With the team, we are going to start with the first portion of the workshop, dream and discovery, so that we can analyze what our goals are, where are our strengths lie, and where we are limited. Another objective of ours that the workshop really helped is that we can share this dynamic of learning and the valuable information with all – with our staff, volunteers and even more so with our community. We are all so happy and grateful for this experience.”

Hearts of Gold’s mission is to empower and unite local non-profits and their leaders to foster a thriving and impactful non-profit community in Ecuador.  There’s no doubt that the Libre Foundation five-day training did just that.


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