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Non-Profit Groups Unite to Strengthen Civil Society
By Chauntez Dillet-Wilson
Feb 23, 2018 - 7:20:19 PM

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l to r: Gevon Moss, Matthew Aubry, Nicola Rolle, Shaun Ingraham & Zeleka Y. Knowles

NASSAU, New Providence, (February 21, 2017) –  A group of 40 plus organizations, and growing, are teaming up on February 27th to work collaboratively to strengthen the civil society sector’s role in the country’s development. The Civil Society Conclave, a free event to be held at Atlantis’ Crown Ballroom, will feature a series of talks panels and workshops by leaders in the sector designed to foster collaboration, develop standards, and increase capacity and impact of non-profit groups.
“There is a widely recognized need to work collaboratively toward strengthening and expanding the sector’s role in The Bahamas. A vibrant Civil Society encourages volunteerism, philanthropy, awareness and advocacy and it is a crucial component to building an open and accountable democracy that upholds equality, freedom, and human rights,” said Chauntez Dillet-Wilson, Communications Coordinator at The Organization for Responsible Governance and Conclave Committee Chair.
“At present, though we see examples of not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations generating undeniable results, the development of the sector is uneven with many groups in this space lacking capacity, resources, and/or structure to work efficiently and affect their maximum impact.  Furthermore, the siloed nature of the sector means that many groups operating in the same space are not collaborating effectively or are duplicating efforts.”

Noting this issue, a consortium of civil society groups have developed the concept of a sector-specific Conclave to bring together a broad, representative spectrum of Civil Society leaders and volunteers to focus on topics of growth such as defining the sector and standards, establishing adequate representation and cohesion, effectively interacting with government and local authorities, increasing citizen participation, capacity building, and leveraging and sharing resources.
Civil Society leaders interested in attending the conclave can register at: https://eventgrid.com/Events/37077/the-civil-society-conclave. Registration is open until February 25th.
The lineup includes a string of notable names on the local scene such as Zeleka Knowles-Yeraswork Executive Director of Hands for Hunger, Senator Raynard Henfield, Shaun Ingraham CEO of One Eleuthera, Terry Miller President of Civil Society Bahamas, Matt Aubry Executive Director of The Organization for Responsible Governance, Veteran educator and activist Joseph Darville, and renowned communications expert Royann Dean.

The conclave also draws on expertise from public, private, and international sectors, inline with the philosophy of inter-sector collaboration. Gevon Moss, Civil Society Liason of The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), which is the lead sponsor of the event, will bring opening remarks.  Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Director of Economic Development and Planning will present on the National Development Plan and how it can be used as a tool for collaboration. And from the private sector, Dennis Deveaux, Associate Director of Advisory Services at KPMG will also lead a workshop on utilizing data and technology to increase social impact.

The event is sponsored by The Inter-American Development Bank, Atlantis, Callenders & Co., The University of The Bahamas, One Eleuthera Foundation, Barefoot Marketing, Diane Phillips & Associates, and The Organization for Responsible Governance. 

The event was made possible by a group of civil society partners: Civil Society Bahamas, One Eleuthera Foundation, The Abaco Chamber of Commerce, Our Carmichael, The Organization for Responsible Governance, Hands for Hunger, Rights Bahamas, and Save the Bays.

Gevon Moss | Opening Address
Gevon Moss is the Civil Society Liaison and has responsibility for Resource, Planning and Administration for the Inter-American Development Bank’s Bahamas Country Office. He joined the IDB in 2016, and previously was the Executive Director for the Downtown Nassau Partnership.Over the span of his career Gevon has developed a diverse resume with management experience in the gaming,  hospitality,  and non-profit sectors.

A proud graduate of St. Augustine’s College, Gevon furthered his education by completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science at St. John’s University in Minnesota. Gevon went on to attain his MBA at Nova Southeastern University.


Shaun D. Ingraham | Standards in Civil Society

Shaun D. Ingraham is an innovator and a social entrepreneur with a passion for community development and mobilising social and economic capital. The Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for the One Eleuthera Foundation, Shaun found his calling in 1992 while coordinating on-the-ground efforts on Eleuthera in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Later, while working in disaster relief and on economic and on social projects in Africa, South East Asia, North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, Shaun saw first-hand the importance of the civil society sector in the development process. This led him to seek to utilize community organisations and social enterprises to revive the economic and social conditions of Eleuthera.

Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle | Plugging in to the National Development Plan
Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle is the Director of Economic Development and Planning at The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, where she leads the National Development Plan, an Ecosystem Services Master Plan for Andros and A Sustainable Master Plan for the City of Nassau.  

Prior to joining the Office of the Prime Minister, she served as Director of Financial Services at the Ministry of Financial Services, Economic Attaché in The Bahamas Embassy in Washington D.C., and as Alternate Representative for The Bahamas at The Bahamas Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States. During her tenure at The Mission, she was an active member of OAS bodies related to economic development and financial management. Dr. Virgill-Rolle was elected as Vice-Chair of the Working Group to Strengthen the Council on Integral Development (CIDI) and its organs (2011-2012). Dr. Virgill-Rolle also held elected positions as Vice Chair of the OAS’ Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs (CAAP) and as The Bahamas’ representative on the OAS’ Management Board of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD).

Dr. Virgill-Rolle holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Public Policy from George Mason University. She published several peer-reviewed book chapters and articles with special emphasis on entrepreneurship, trade and development. Dr. Rolle also holds a Master of Science Degree in Political Economy of Development from the University of London (SOAS) and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Vassar College and an Associate of Arts Degree in Accounting from the College of The Bahamas.

Zeleka Yeraswork-Knowles | Partnering for a Purpose
Zeleka Knowles is the Executive Director of Hands For Hunger, a local non-profit organization committed to eliminating hunger and food waste in The Bahamas.

Prior to joining Hands For Hunger, Zeleka worked in the healthcare sector leading programs related to HIV/AIDS prevention with a focus on Most-At-Risk Populations. She has worked with the Bahamas Ministry of Health, The United Nations, and the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Her academic background is in International Development. She holds a BA from Tufts, and a Masters from Columbia University.
Zeleka is most passionate about ensuring human dignity while providing access to quality healthcare services, food, and housing for all.

Matthew Aubry | Partnering for a Purpose
Matthew Aubry is the Executive Director for the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic foundation driving Good Governance, Accountability, Economic Development and Education Reform in The Bahamas. In his 26 years leading high performing teams, Matt has worked on advocacy and social justice in the United States, Jordan, India, Bangladesh, The Bahamas and The Emirates.

Matthew has served as a Director for YAI Network, an international disabilities agency and Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian and hunger relief organization, and here in The Bahamas for Baha Mar; overseeing Corporate Partnerships and overseeing the BELIEVE Foundation. Additionally, he has served as a consultant for REACH, Young Marine Explorers, The Seahorse Institute and the Ministry of Social Services. Matt is recognized with an expertise in fundraising, marketing, community organizing, corporate social responsibility and not for profit management.


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