MAAA Strategic Planning Event


On December 16, 2017, about 30 alumni took part in the MAAA Strategic Planning Event, held in the Ethno Complex “Macedonian Village” in Gorno Nerezi, Skopje. After the official greeting from the president of MAAA, Dr.Mišo Dokmanović, the agenda for the day was set.

First, the Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Macedonia, Laura Brown, shared her experience of working with other alumni organizations abroad and suggested directions that MAAA should take to function and develop properly.

Then, the alumni worked on the improvement of MAAA’s objectives. Suggestions were given and the text was altered and adjusted to best meet the mission statement and priorities of the organization.



With the second part of the event, the alumni split in five committees and worked on brainstorming activities and developing 6-month goals in 5 core areas of the work of MAAA: 1. professional development, 2. networking and social activities, 3. international cooperation, 4. advocacy and 5. community outreach. The following suggestions were given:

Professional development


The goal of this committee was to suggest professional development events that would be beneficial for MAAA members. So, first they suggested that a database of members’ professional expertise is made so MAAA can have a clear idea about what their needs are and would plan professional development events accordingly.

However, up till then, it was suggested that several events were organised: academic writing event (invite an expert who will train MAAA members to improve their writing skills), project management workshop (the idea was to invite an expert who would deliver a lecture on how to create (come up with an idea) and manage a project until its completion and implementation), infographics training (the suggestion was to invite an expert who would teach the core concepts that MAAA members would need to design rich, meaningful infographics, including data visualization, planning and wireframing graphic), then another training on financing, fundraising and grants was proposed (a lecture on how to manage finances, how to raise funds and how to apply for grants), then, a training in creative thinking (the idea here was to invite an expert who would teach MAAA members to develop the mindset and skills needed to boost creative thinking, creativity and innovation at work and other areas of their professional interest) and a training in ECO design (organize a lecture by an expert who would teach MAAA members more about the approach of designing and using products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product).

Finally, the committee also set a long-term goal to organize a conference in which MAAA members would take part and share ideas by presenting in separate panels depending on their professional expertise or interest: culture, science, politics etc.

Networking and social activities

The goal of the committee was to initiate and establish networking and social activities within and out of MAAA. They suggested several happy hour meetings which would focus on specific aspects of members networking. For instance, it was suggested that a happy hour should be organized as a contribution to the mini-conference on environmental challenges in the Republic of Macedonia (planned for February), then, another happy hour, which would focus on submission of articles for the MAAA Newsletter (for the March 2018 issue) and another one was planned for production of alumni video stories. In May, the committee planned a happy hour which would focus on members’ contributions to the debate on mentoring at the American corner and MAAA-MAME (Macedonian Association of Medical Editors), and then, another one for June which would be dedicated to submission of articles for the June 2018 MAAA newsletter issue and the second MAAA workshop on strategic planning.



International cooperation

The goal of this committee was to give suggestions for initiation and establishment of international cooperation with educational institutions, businesses and NGOs associated with the US. It was suggested that in the first two months of 2018 MAAA should identify and contact regional US alumni associations (neighboring countries, Balkan countries and ENAM), American businesses (starting from the American chamber of commerce in Macedonia, examples: Fx3X, New Mans), NGOs and other organizations, associates with the US (e.g.: Macedonians in the US NGO, American corners, NOVA, Peace Corps in Macedonia) and other alumni associations in Macedonia (e.g.: JICA – Japan Macedonian Alumni Association). After contact is established, the plan is to initiate potential ways of collaborations and to sign cooperation agreements. Then, it was suggested that a networking event is organized for MAAA and all the previously identified American businesses, NGOs and other institutions in March.

Finally, it was planned that MAAA should organize an event (it could also be a conference, workshop, training or summer school) on broad topics, ranging from improvement of education to design thinking or any other topic that could be attractive for MAAA members, with a few American guests-participants (or MAAA members, collaborators in and from the US). In addition, the committee suggested that members should attend ENAM yearly conference and other regional American Alumni conferences, or apply for regional project with other alumni associations.

Advocacy

This committee’s main goal was to recommend and suggest particular policies of MAAA. So, the committee’s members suggested that a debate should be organized on the topic "What each of us can do for our country?" paraphrasing John Kennedy's inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". Then, they proposed a mini conference on environmental challenges in the Republic of Macedonia, and two more debates on graded taxation and mentoring. Finally, they suggested that another workshop on strategic planning should be organized in May or June.



Community outreach

The community outreach committee’s main goal was to come up with ideas and activities which will help MAAA reach out to others in the community. The members of the committee suggested that MAAA should organize a “MAAA Open Talks” event that could be happening at the American Corners once or twice a month and could focus on selected topics, like ELT distance learning, leadership, mental health, fighting bullying, whistleblower privacy, anti-corruption etc.

Another idea was to organize a fundraiser for a “burning” social issue (e.g. gender equality). In addition, they thought that some community service like a clean-up activity or recycling could also be helpful, or that MAAA members could organize some outdoor activities like hiking with people with disabilities, or promoting bicycle culture, or it could take advantage of some popular events like the Skopje Marathon to raise awareness about certain social issues.

Finally, at the end of the event, Mr. Albion Abdulai, alumni coordinator from the US Embassy in Macedonia, presented the funding opportunities for MAAA and its members.



Written by Zorica Trajkova

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