By: Adam LeClair, Team Lead, Generating Results in Our Work and Thought Leadership (GROWTH)

Building resilient and inclusive democracies globally requires a dedicated, skilled, and connected cadre of democracy defenders. USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) Officers do this essential work every day. They are on the front lines supporting human rights advocates and civil society groups, developing partnerships with governments, putting people at the center of justice programs, and fighting corruption in some of the most difficult contexts. This work requires DRG Officers to make intentional investments in their own knowledge and skills, and to keep up to date on the best approaches in DRG programming.

This is where EnCompass’ Generating Results in Our Work and Thought Leadership (GROWTH) team goes into action. GROWTH supports USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) staff to exchange information and resources by delivering intensive training programs, facilitating peer exchange, and promoting thought leadership.

From June 2 to June 13, 2023, several members of the GROWTH team traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to support the DRG Center’s first in-person training and first overseas training delivery since 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The GROWTH team supported DRG subject matter experts to adapt their training and learning methodologies from virtual to in-person to deliver four instructor-led trainings and one DRG networking convening, culminating in 85 hours of live training delivery.

The training drew 66 USAID staff representing 40 Missions for four training courses and the DRG Convening. GROWTH noted increased attendance from USAID Missions in Asia, who represented 33 percent of participants , compared to 6 percent during virtual deliveries. The training reached an entirely Mission-based audience who were mostly USAID Foreign Service Nationals (77 percent).

This return to in-person and overseas training marks an important shift to peer-to-peer exchange. EnCompass’ Evaluation and Learning Specialist Mary Gallagher, who traveled with the group, observed: “It was incredible to see participants really connect and find commonalities across Missions and sectors. There was so much energy in the room to ask questions, share experiences, and create these continued connections, regardless of location.” Throughout the trainings, participants were eager to connect, share lessons, and collaborate, building professional and personal relationships that can be sustained well beyond the training and benefit USAID’s DRG work.

One participant from the Applied Political Economy Assessment training remarked: “The training was awesome since the beginning. All the exercises were really interesting and [made] you avoid feeling bored. . . . Great first in-person training after COVID.”

Highlights of the Bangkok training included the one-day workshop, Making the Case for Democracy—an entirely new delivery that introduced novel approaches for uplifting democracy narratives and countering anti-democracy messaging globally. Further, the full-day DRG Convening, designed by the GROWTH team, is a new initiative to promote peer-to-peer learning across USAID Missions and regions.

EnCompass and its GROWTH team continue to develop a diversity of synchronous and asynchronous learning options for the DRG Center. Peer-to-peer learning remains central element of our support to help the Center expand its thought leadership and engagement on a global scale.