Better Together: Reflections from Green Empowerment’s 2018 Staff Retreat

Earlier this month, Green Empowerment (GE) staff from both our U.S. headquarters and our program countries around the world gathered in Portland, Oregon for our annual staff retreat. For two days, we laughed, hiked and strategized at the foot of Mount Hood in an effort to learn more about one another and to make our work more impactful. Read on to learn more about our discussions and how we use opportunities like these to better fulfill our mission.

Better Together

The annual staff retreat is a time for GE staff to connect in-person and identify solutions to some of the issues we confront organization-wide. With staff based across five different countries in North America, Latin America and Southeast Asia, most of our interactions throughout the year occur remotely through phone calls, emails, instant messaging or video conferencing. Although we adeptly switch between modes of communication, grapple with technology failures and schedule meetings around different time zones – our team in Asia has a lot of early morning calls – some issues are much easier to resolve when you are in the same room together. After the retreat concludes, the time that we spent bonding helps us cope with the sometimes spotty communications that we are likely to face in the year ahead.


While our commitment to this approach has remained strong over the years, the types of partners we work with and how we engage with them on projects has become increasingly diverse. While this flexibility has opened new and exciting opportunities for ways to empower beneficiary communities, it also presents unique challenges. As part of our ongoing efforts to be more strategic and effective in our work, we dedicated a significant portion of the staff retreat to discussing “better partnerships.” We shared experiences with different partners and agreed upon new partnership guidelines and tools to direct and improve our relationships moving forward. Other topics of discussion included an update on progress made in reaching the targets of the 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, new external communications strategies and the rollout of new operation and maintenance standards for GE technologies.Even Better with JojoThis staff retreat was particularly special because Philippines Program Manager, Jojo Fajardo, was able to join us. This was his very first trip to the U.S. We introduced Jojo to some of the best things that Oregon has to offer – craft beer, beautiful scenery, snow. We also hosted several appreciation events showcasing GE’s work in the Philippines. During these events, Jojo shared photos and stories about the successes and challenges of Green Empowerment’s CREST program, which wrapped up in September of 2017 and provided more than 39,000 people across five Filipino provinces access to clean water and improved sanitation.Thank you to our field staff for making the long trip to Portland and for taking the time to thoughtfully collaborate across regions and focus areas. And thank you to those who attended our Philippines appreciation events – your energy and enthusiasm for our work is truly revitalizing.‘Til next time.


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