USAID Assistant Administrator Michelle Bekkering, Executive Director of IDA Vladimir Cuk, and Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro

Meaningful Inclusion: GROW Team Supports the Global Action on Disability Annual Meeting

In February, the Generating Results with Our Work (GROW) team supported USAID’s DRG Center in co-hosting the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network’s annual partners meeting with the U.S. Department of State. EnCompass manages the GROW activity with support from MSI, a Tetra Tech company. A recording of the opening session is available on EnCompass’ YouTube channel.


“No nation can be meaningfully self-reliant if it leaves any of its members behind.” USAID Administrator Mark Green addressed attendees with this statement in pre-recorded remarks at the first ever U.S.-based annual meeting of the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network, co-hosted by USAID and the U.S. Department of State. The GLAD Network is a coordination body of bilateral and multilateral donors and agencies, the private sector, and foundations, working to enhance the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development and humanitarian action.Administrator Green’s remarks emphasize the importance of empowering persons with disabilities to contribute to the economic and social growth of their countries, and demonstrate USAID’s commitment to disability-inclusive development.

The 2020 GLAD Network annual meeting was organized in cooperation with GLAD Network co-chairs the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the International Disability Alliance. Michelle Bekkering, USAID’s Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment, welcomed more than 100 people from more than 20 countries at the opening session at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert Destro honored the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in his remarks to attendees. Participants hailed from groups such as the World Bank, the United Nations International Organization on Migration, UNICEF, the Disability Rights Fund, and multiple foreign governments. Penny Innes, Head of Disability Inclusion at DFID; Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director of International Disability Alliance (IDA); and Ana Lucía Arellano Barba, Chair of IDA, also gave welcoming remarks during the opening session, and revealed the agenda for the three-day meeting.

Group photo at the GLAD network event in February 2020
Group photo at the GLAD Network event in February 2020

Each morning, the GLAD Network organized sessions on themes such as inclusive employment and inclusive education. The sessions explored the challenges and strategic priorities of organizations working on those thematic issues. Stakeholder-specific breakout sessions allowed members the opportunity to discuss issues of particular relevance to their specific type of organization: state agencies, multilateral agencies, and foundations. Later in the convening, a representative from each thematic and stakeholder session presented a summary of their commitments and conclusions to all attendees.

The final day featured a robust discussion on the way forward for the network. Katherine Guernsey, the Agency’s Disability Rights Coordinator and USAID’s lead for the event, considered the annual meeting a success and appreciated the high-level of participation from senior members of the Agency, as well as the State Department. Participants echoed those sentiments. USAID looks forward to continuing the discussions, and working with other GLAD Network members in promoting the equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities around the world.

The DRG Center engaged the GROW team to facilitate and manage aspects of the 2020 GLAD Network Annual Meeting. To see tweets and images from the event, visit #GLADNetwork on Twitter.

Photos by Kristen Dayton, GROW/EnCompass LLC. All rights reserved.

EnCompass Staff

EnCompass offers innovative solutions for organizational excellence.  We seek to enhance the impact and capacity of government and multilateral agencies, corporations, and nonprofits around the world through customized services in organizational and leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation.

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