5:00 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m. Lecture
The Mosbacher Institute’s 2016 Bank of America Program on Volunteerism featured Bud Philbrook, co-founder and CEO of Global Volunteers, on February 9, 2016. Mr. Philbrook described the advantage of the short-term volunteer model used by Global Volunteers to address what he contends is the most significant challenge facing the global community: human and economic development. He explained to the audience gathered at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum that governments understand the comprehensive interventions necessary to address the challenge but often do not have the means to address it directly -- namely, money and people.
Global Volunteers and their short-term volunteers, however, provide the money and people to solve the problem. The volunteer base attracted to Global Volunteers are individuals who want to help but generally have families, school, or occupational commitments which preclude them from being able to go somewhere for extended periods of time. Money is not a constraining factor for the program as it is for governments because the volunteers pay their own way.
Global Volunteers uses its human and financial resources to focus on what they believe is at the root of all global challenges: a cycle of poverty and disease. They attempt to break the cycle by especially assisting expecting mothers and children under the age of two to access education, nutritious food, and vaccines. Children develop the most quickly physically and cognitively in the first 1,000 days after conception. However, if they do not receive adequate nutrition or are exposed to disease, their growth is stunted, and their full potential cannot be met. If all children develop to their fullest potential, the world, Mr. Philbrook said, would benefit from the human capital but also from a decrease in poverty, stunting, and disease. To break the cycle of poverty impacting hundreds of millions of children worldwide, Global Volunteers is comprehensive in its approach of simultaneously eradicating hunger, improving health, and enhancing cognition. Focusing on just one area would only make a limited difference because all three are interrelated in their impact on the lives of individuals.
Mr. Philbrook concluded his remarks by outlining the guiding principles of Global Volunteers: teams only go where they are invited; they work under the direction of local leaders; they have local communities determine the programs they believe are necessary for development; volunteer teams work with locals directly to accomplish the community’s goals so the changes are sustainable; teams only do what they are asked to do; and they return only as long as they are invited.
Dr. William Brown, a Professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, engaged Mr. Philbrook in a short question and answer session following Mr. Philbrook’s remarks. Dr. Brown asked a mixture of questions submitted by audience members and his own prepared questions. After the question and answer session, Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute, presented Mr. Philbrook with a plaque recognizing his contributions to humanitarian relief and effective innovation in the non-profit sector.
During his visit, Mr. Philbrook also had several meetings with students and faculty. He spoke with a Bush School non-profit management class, had lunch with a small group of second year Bush School students of various academic concentrations, and met with the staff of Texas A&M’s Center on Conflict and Development.
Mr. Philbrook is an internationally recognized leader in public policy and engagement and a nonprofit entrepreneur. He cofounded Global Volunteers in 1984, an international human & economic development NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC and UNICEF. He is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Conclave Conspiracy, and is married to Michele Gran and together they have three adult sons, Jacob, Nicholas and Andrew.
Mr. Philbrook has worked in the public, private, and voluntary sectors. He served in President Obama’s first administration as Deputy Under Secretary at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he was responsible for food security and agricultural trade issues. He is a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and former Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. His private law practice concentrated in the areas of business and government law. He has served as a human and economic development consultant to local communities in more than 20 countries focusing on issues relating to eradicating hunger, promoting health and enhancing cognitive ability, and has traveled extensively, visiting more than 50 countries on six continents.
Mr. Philbrook has been active in local, state, national and international NGOs. He managed Global Volunteers in a volunteer capacity for nearly ten years. Since 1994, he has been its full-time president and CEO, except for the time he served in the Obama administration. He initiated the concept of engaging average folks from developed countries as short-term volunteers serving communities in developing countries. USA Today identified Global Volunteers as the “Granddaddy” of this movement. Mr. Philbrook has been interviewed and/or featured in numerous local, national and international media including CNN, CNN International, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, China Daily, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and People Magazine.
Mr. Philbrook is the principal architect of The St. Lucia Project, a demonstration that short-term volunteers can help parents and community organizations deliver the essential services the UN prescribes to ensure that at-risk children realize the fullness of their potential. This comprehensive approach will demonstrate that when impoverished pregnant women and their children receive sufficient food and nutrition, and are protected from infectious disease, children’s brains fully develop and, when educated, those children can become full contributing members of their societies. The St. Lucia Project is a replicable model for developing countries world-wide and has the potential to literally change the world.
Mr. Philbrook earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, a Master of Arts with concentrations in international economic development and public administration from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law.