International Volunteering and Service Leaders Launch VOLiNTEER

Jun 29, 2010, 14:30 ET from Meridian International Center

Global knowledge network supports volunteer leaders and their efforts to help empower communities worldwide to contribute to local and global wellbeing.

NEW YORK, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- VOLiNTEER, a new international non-governmental, non-profit volunteer network, connecting over 100 leaders from over 97 countries, was officially launched today at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in New York.

The organization is dedicated to enhancing the development of global volunteer movements focused on "high impact volunteering" through a knowledge network that provides "peer-to-peer" leadership exchange among U.S. and international leaders.  The VOLiNTEER knowledge network combines face-to-face leadership exchanges with online access to a marketplace of ideas and resources.  The knowledge network is powered by Meridian International Center and can be found at

VOLiNTEER was created by participants in U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs project, Volunteerism: United We Serve, which was designed and coordinated by Meridian International Center. This International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) brought 103 community activists, government officials, nongovernmental organization leaders, educators and journalists from 97 countries to the United States for a 3-week program to connect with U.S. civic leaders in over 52 cities.  The program culminated in San Francisco with a "Leadership Discussion on the Power of Service" with Mayor Gavin Newsom and a "Volunteerism & Service" town hall meeting led by First Lady of California Maria Shriver.

During the IVLP program, Alan Khazei, Founder and CEO of Be The Change, Service Nation, and Co-Founder and CEO of City Year, challenged the group to form a global network organization, saying, "We need to build institutions, organizations, to bring us together.  It should be countries coming together, people participating, everybody contributing.  The important thing is that it should be done in partnership.  It should be people coming together from around the world, working on every continent."

The visitors were also inspired by Karen Baker, California Secretary of Service and Volunteering, who expressed deep support for VOLiNTEER.

Writing on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Maura Pally wrote to the VOLiNTEER's founders, "Congratulations on the creation of VOLiNTEER, the global initiative that demonstrates your commitment to work together to address community problems worldwide. You describe an inspiring vision of a world in which citizens, regardless of where they live, have an opportunity to serve in the spirit of humanity, compassion, non-violence and trust. VOLiNTEER, with its goal of developing an international volunteer movement, is a crucial first step toward addressing some of the most critical needs of the world today."

Four of the founding members of VOLiNTEER are present at the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service: Arno Ahornegger, from Austria; Kennedy Roberts, from Grenada; Lejla Sehic-Relic, from Croatia; and Riaz Simjee, from South Africa. Mr. Roberts is representing VOLiNTEER on the panel entitled "Six Billion Paths to Peace: The Journey of Global Engagement," sponsored by the Shinnyo-en Foundation at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29.

About Meridian:  Meridian International Center, a non-partisan, non-profit institution based in Washington, DC has strengthened international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas and culture since 1960.

Meridian conducts people-to-people exchanges through the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and designs and executes specialized and targeted exchange programs, professional study tours and training programs for over 2,500 international leaders annually. Our major clients include American embassies abroad, U.S. government agencies, U.S. private industry, as well as foreign public and private sector organizations such as governments, embassies, political parties, media outlets and corporations.

SOURCE Meridian International Center