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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

SUNY/CID Staff Awarded US State Department Grant

Haitian students.

The youth in Akayè, Haiti will participate in activities related to the "Reimagining Haiti: Public Service Leadership" grant.

The SUNY/Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) congratulates staff members Heather Senecal and Cecelia Skott as well as Rockefeller College Assistant Professor Susan Appe and SUNY New Paltz Professor Amy Nitza for their project being selected by the United States Department of State as part of the 2019 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund. The team is working closely with the Haiti Development Institute (HDI) and together their project, "Reimagining Haiti: Public Service Leadership" will strengthen civil society and community leaders in Akayè, Haiti by creating the groundwork for an Institute of Public Service. Through community meetings and dialogues, the project will develop curricular modules for public servants using adult learning methods and focusing on hands-on learning to build the skills and confidence of local leaders. Additional civic engagement work will focus on local schools in Akayè, Haiti where school children will work with local artists to design a mural which illustrates themes of public service and leadership.

"We are grateful to the U.S. State Department and Partners of the Americas for this grant which will allow us build a bridge from current efforts to future projects in Akayè, Haiti. This project was jointly borne out of inspiration from the work of the State University of New York (SUNY) to plan for educational, economic and social programs for sustainable community development in Haiti as well as an ongoing discussion with HDI about their goal of setting up an Institute of Public Service," said Senecal and Appe.

This grant will support the development of three leadership modules for public servants that will initially be run by HDI until the Institute of Public Service is up and running. The goal of the Institute for Public Service is to create and advance the development of the public interest in Haiti and train community members who can then collectively solve local public problems. This project will create three public service curriculum modules that will be determined through a consultative process. The project team will engage with several communal sections of Akayè, including those most remote, and through community meetings and dialogues, the team will begin to build a value framework for public servants. After these sessions, the project team will sit down with partners to develop the first curricular modules that use adult learning methods and focus on hands-on learning methods to build the skills and confidence of local leaders. The project runs from November 2019 to May 2020 with the community meetings starting in January 2020.

"I applaud my colleagues’ continued commitment to public service. Their time and efforts in this work—outside of their responsibilities at SUNY/CID—are an inspiration to the university community," noted SUNY/CID's director, Gina Volynsky.

The 2019 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni of International Exchange programs supports public service projects using the skills and knowledge of U.S. citizen alumni who traveled abroad on U.S. government-funded exchange programs. The innovative projects will advance the following key foreign policy priorities: advance science, technology, health, and innovation; build civic participation, good governance, and resilient communities; empower women and girls; foster alumni network development; foster economic prosperity; and, promote inclusion and educational opportunities. Fifteen of the projects will take place abroad in collaboration with U.S. embassies in those countries.

To read more about the 2019 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund and winners please visit:

Department of State page:

Partners of the Americas page:

Posted January 6, 2020