The Harwood Institute Goes to Australia for First Formal International Partnership

The Harwood Institute Travels to Australia in First Formal International Partnership Community Change Expert Rich Harwood to Work with Leading Community Advocacy Group, Meet with Government and Community Leaders, Keynote State-Wide Consortium

Oct. 20, 2014, Bethesda, Md. – The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is in Australia for the next two weeks for its first formal international partnership with the country’s Local Community Services Association (LCSA). The Institute will work to increase the ability of LCSA’s members to accelerate their impact and strengthen the conditions of the neighborhood centers and communities they serve.

The Harwood Institute founder Richard C. Harwood, along with several members of his staff, will kick off the three-year initiative with the Australian advocacy group in Sydney with a three-day training for 100 LCSA members from across New South Wales, where LCSA operates. He will also deliver a keynote address for Community Centres SA, a state-wide consortium of neighborhood centers in South Australia’s capital, Adelaide.

While in Australia, Harwood will meet with a range of government, corporate, NGO and philanthropic leaders. He and his team will also conduct a day-long training in Melbourne with The Brotherhood of St. Laurence, a non-governmental, community-based organization dedicated to alleviating and preventing poverty. The program is designed to help the organization accelerate its work in Melbourne and with its partners across the country.

“The Institute’s partnership with the Local Community Services Association is an important opportunity to help develop public innovators in Australia, supporting people across the country in turning outward so that they are using the community – not their conference room - as the reference point for their decisions,” said Harwood, a community change expert who has spent more than 25 years working with people and organizations in communities across the United States to help them identify and solve pressing problems and change how they work together. Added Harwood, “We look forward to helping produce progress and positive change for people and communities across Australia.”

Public innovators are people with the mindset and skills to tackle a range of social, economic and educational challenges. The Institute will provide LCSA ongoing support through webinars, coaching calls and other tools.

Said LCSA Executive Officer Brian Smith, “Our work with The Harwood Institute will help us ensure that the voices of all members of the community are heard.” The organization, which has a special focus on families, children and the economically disadvantaged, advocates on behalf of its network of locally run community and neighborhood centers that provide a range of services to all members of its communities. LCSA is partnering with United Way Australia to ensure The Harwood Institute’s visit engages a wide cross-section of community leaders. Read a Harwood Q&A with Smith.

LCSA’s collaboration with The Harwood Institute came about after LCSA spent a year researching tools and partners that would enable neighborhood and community centers to improve the way they function while maintaining integrity to their roots, values and purpose in Australia’s fast-changing social, political and economic environment, Smith said.

Smith said he was drawn to the Institute in part because of Harwood’s emphasis on the importance of authentic community engagement in collective impact processes, ensuring that such efforts are undertaken with a deep focus on the context of the communities where these efforts unfold.  Read Harwood’s article, “Putting Community in Collective Impact” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and see the roundtable discussion featuring Harwood and other experts discussing community engagement and collective impact. Harwood’s work in collective impact was also featured in a webinar conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A prolific author, Harwood has produced dozens of studies on politics and public life and has authored books including “The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good”; “Hope Unraveled: The People’s Retreat and Our Way Back”; and “Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward.” He has spent the past year traveling across the United States on his Reclaiming Main Street campaign to engage people in making community a common enterprise again.

He has been featured by hundreds of media including MSNBC, NPR, CNN's Inside Politics and the Don Lemon Show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume, C-SPAN, USA Today and in international press such as German Public Radio, China Central Television and Voice of Russia Radio. Learn more about Harwood and his inspirational personal journey.