Congo Initiative is an envisioned community of Christ-centered Congolese leaders and global partners united for the transformation of lives and a flourishing Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission of Congo Initiative USA is to promote Christian higher education, leadership formation, and community transformation in the DRC by providing financial and personnel support for Cl's founding program, the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo, and for the broader work of Congo Initiative. The new Executive Director will lead the organization’s ministry here in the US while working collaboratively with the leadership in DRC.
HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION
Congo Initiative (Cl) was born out of a call to prayer among Congolese leaders representing the church, education, government, and business sectors at the height of the civil war in eastern Congo in 2002. A three-day prayer gathering was convened by Drs. David and Kaswera Kasali, a dynamic and visionary Congolese couple who both hold PhDs from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. While living in Nairobi, Kenya—where David had served as Vice Chancellor for the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology since 1996 (the same year that the Congo war began)—the Kasalis received a call to return to Congo and lead a response to the devastation occurring in their native country. From 2004 to 2007, the Kasalis relocated to the U.S. and presented their vision to churches and individuals around the country, while establishing Congo Initiative as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
In 2007, the Kasalis permanently relocated to Beni, Congo, and Cl's founding program, the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (Christian Bilingual University of Congo or UCBC), opened its doors. UCBC is a four-year, Christ-centered, bilingual (English and French) liberal arts institution that offers undergraduate degrees in Applied Sciences, Communications, Economics, Law, and Theology.
In addition to UCBC, Cl fulfills its mission through several outreach programs, such as: pastoral training and formation, entrepreneurial training and counseling for vulnerable women, bilingual primary education for children, workshops and training for legal professionals, trauma healing counseling services, and entrepreneurial innovation toward institutional self-sustainability.
ABOUT THEIR WORK
The vision of Congo Initiative is simple. Live by faith and with confidence. Work hard for the common good. Forgive and be forgiven. Do not dwell in the past or conform to the pattern of the world. Do something new and be transformed by renewing your mind.
Empowered by this vision, Congo Initiative educates ethical leaders who have integrity; invests in a sustainable vibrant Congolese society; and develops grassroots initiatives for peace, hope, and justice. They are … together—being transformed to transform.
Everything they do is done in collaboration with their Congolese leadership. This means that they never “import” answers to Congo’s challenges from the outside. Instead, the solutions to Congo’s challenges come from within–from local communities and leaders who know the longings of their people and who lead them in finding the resources to fulfill those longings. Although they are Congolese-led, they collaborate with friends and colleagues from the international community in the spirit of “Tuko Pamoja” … meaning “we are together.”
Their work engages in key sectors where intervention is deemed appropriate and where CI’s programs and institutions demonstrate proven impact. Their strategy centers around leadership development through a redemptive Christ-centered community, believing that leaders nurtured by a transformational community will then catalyze renewal for a flourishing Congo.
This community-centered strategy for leadership development focuses on long-term investment strategies, rather than short-term relief work and “front-line” service provision. CI cultivates a Christ-centered community and develops transformational leaders through four key sectors defined as a targeted domain of intervention where CI’s projects, programs and institutions demonstrate transformational impact. These sectors are education, renewing Christian vocation, holistic family development, and governance and economic development, and also includes entrepreneurship, counseling and peacekeeping.
In addition to UCBC (see below for a more in-depth look), Congo Initiative currently supports the following programs:
- Sharing the Land engages local communities and authorities around issues of land conflict, and aims to bring about solutions that lead to lasting peace.
- La Charité Primary School is a K-6 grade school reaching the most vulnerable portion of the population by creating high quality, inclusive education featuring core academic instruction, physical exercise, music, and a loving environment are all part of the services we provide.
- ABC Primary School seeks to apply UCBC’s transformational vision of education in the lives of eastern Congo’s youngest learners. The school has six grades for children ages 5–12, a nursery school for children ages 2 – 5, and is led by UCBC alumni.
- Bethesda Counseling Center provides caring, loving and compassionate Christian counseling programs, including individual and group counseling; play therapy for children; grief and trauma services, counseling for victims of sexual violence; and training for local church leaders.
- Vocational Training & Counseling serves at-risk Congolese women, training them in vocational and income-generating skills, empowering them to earn a livelihood that will provide better lives for themselves and their families.
- Neema Congo is a resource and capacity building program that fosters entrepreneurship activity within the community and engages in robust monitoring and evaluation of small business ventures.
- Wakisha is a business accelerator program that provides financial and mentoring support to emerging entrepreneurs to scale high impact, innovative startups in eastern Congo. Close to 1000 people have benefited from Wakisha entrepreneurship and income-generating activities, including 83 people displaced in rural areas due to conflict.
- The Justice Initiativetrains and supports lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals to elevate, promote, and advocate for justice and transformation in a broken system, starting at a grassroots level.
- Church Renewal and Global Mission (CRGM) Initiative envisions the renewal and strengthening of the Church in post-conflict regions of Congo so that the Church becomes a community of holistic transformation and global mission. Activities focus on church leadership training, healing, and reconciliation that respond to the needs of the community.
- Integrated Research Institute encourages and empowers faculty, students and affiliated researchers at UCBC to use the resources of academic inquiry to engage problems relevant to the community, to collect meaningful data about DR Congo, and to publish excellent research.
Congo’s post-colonial history has been challenging: predatory structures of power, systemic and continuing violence and war, mass killings, sexual violence, extraction and theft of natural resources through complicity of local and international players, and rampant poverty continue to hold Congo’s people captive (1960-present).
The root cause of this crisis can be traced to a critical lack of ethical and service-minded leaders who advance the common good. Consequently, the whole nation is compromised: civil society, churches and religious organizations, the legal system, the economy, natural resource management, and education are all affected by this lack of leadership.
IF LEADERSHIP IS THE KEY, THEN EDUCATION IS
THE KEY TO BRINGING UP THESE LEADERS.
— David Kasali
A Congolese solution…
In the midst of this challenging context, and out of an already resilient society, a new liberating and transformative narrative is being written and lived. It begins at the UCBC, located in Beni, where committed Congolese visionaries are developing and nurturing a redemptive community of passionate young men and women … students equipped through professional and formative education at the highest level. It is witnessed in their alumni, who identify, own and respond to Congo’s challenges with skill, dedication, excellence, creativity, and Christian hope.
After 13 years, UCBC now has an annual average enrollment of 300 students, and more than 600 UCBC alumni are writing a new story in Congo. Here is just a small sample of how their alumni are making an impact:
- 8 are working in bank enterprises.
- Over 20 are working with CI or UCBC.
- 6 are working in the mining industry.
- 100+ are innovating new startups or working as consultants.
- More than 15 are serving as pastors in churches.
- Over 50 are working in national and international NGO’s based in Congo.
- 3 are working with the DRC government.
- More than 50 are pursuing advanced studies at universities across east Africa.
Congo Initiative’s work is based in Beni, a city of 250,000 people in the North Kivu province of eastern DRC, just 46 miles west of the Ugandan border, and is supported by partner organizations around the world.
They are a non-governmental agency registered in Congo, governed by a General Assembly (board) that meets twice each year. That General Assembly is responsible for:
- Setting the vision, mission, values, and strategic objectives of the organization
- Ensuring that all activities and programs align with the above
- Approval and adoption of annual budgets
- Oversight of executive leadership
Their executive team in Congo is the Management Committee, whose mandate is to implement the mission-based strategic objectives as determined by the General Assembly. They are in the final days of a 3-year Strategic Plan. When asked to grade their overall performance on the current Strategic Plan, members of the Committee gave themselves a “C” in terms of accomplishing the goals outlined, but a “B to B+” for the overall impact on the communities they serve, which the board views as an “incredible accomplishment” given the circumstances.
Both of Congo Initiative’s partner organizations (CI USA and CI UK) are registered/chartered in their respective countries in accordance with the laws and regulations for non-governmental/not-for-profit entities in those countries. Each partner organization accompanies and supports CI Congo by the following:
- Raising awareness about the needs, challenges and opportunities of Congo
- Telling the story of what CI Congo is doing to uniquely and distinctively address these needs, challenges, and opportunities
- Developing human, financial, and technical resources to equip and enable CI Congo to fulfill its mission and vision
In doing the work outlined above, the partner organizations cooperate closely to ensure that international resources and support always match the priorities and needs of CI Congo.
Congo Initiative USA
Established as a 501(c)3 in 2005, Congo Initiative USA (CI-USA) exists to provide individuals, foundations, churches and public institutions in the USA with access to the work of Congo Initiative in the DRC through financial, human resource, and technical investment. The organization here is governed by a 15-member board of directors from across the country who represent a cross-section of disciplines. The staff cultivate and steward relationships and partnerships with donors, institutions and organizations throughout the USA who desire to support and participate in the work of CI Congo. They also manage and update the website, oversee communications and marketing, and facilitate all general inquiries. The work here is staff-led, board-confirmed.
Based in Durham, North Carolina, CI–USA has four full-time staff (one of whom is in San Francisco) and several deeply engaged volunteers. The organization’s FY2020 budget (ending September 30) is just over $1.2 million, which is derived 60% from individual donors, 23% from foundations, 16% from churches, and <1% from other sources. It’s program ratio in 2019 was 78.3%.
Congo Initiative UK
Begun in October 2015, CI-UK went through the long process of registering as a charity in Northern Ireland and, by extension, the United Kingdom. In February 2019, CI–UK received its registration as a charity.
With a full-time Executive Director and a Board of Directors in place, CI-UK also aims to come alongside CI Congo with financial and personnel resources from individuals, foundations and institutions throughout the UK.
OPPORTUNITES & CHALLENGES
The culture at CI-USA can best be described as healthy and excited about the future. The organization financially stable, the team culture is healthy, and ready for someone to come in with new ideas for revenue growth and innovation. Globally, its strengths are that it is indigenous-led, resilient, and that it is accomplishing an inspiring mission, often against all odds. The working environment is highly collaborative, deeply intentional, and characterized by a spirit of mutuality. Their motto of “Tuko Pamoja” truly is endeavoring to be lived out day-by-day. The team works to strengthen these characteristics, evaluating what it means to be “in this together” and remain sensitive to the concerns of each stakeholder. To quote a team member, “We lament and celebrate together.”
Given their focus and organizational setup, their culture can also be defined as “cross-cultural.” They are particularly sensitive to the fact that for most of history, people of color (in their particular focus, the Congolese people) have not had the opportunity to lead and use their own voice when it comes to addressing the challenges in their context. The organization is particularly committed to community-driven solutions that arise from the context and from Congolese leadership. On both sides of the ocean, CI’s culture is deeply rooted in the faith and hope that God is doing a new thing in Congo as well as in their own lives. They are open with one another, both in terms of the challenges they face in their work but also, at times, when they face challenges or concerns in their own, personal lives. Founder David Kasali likes to say, “In our organization, ‘being’ is just as important as ‘doing’.”
In Congo, the working environment is challenging in terms of access to the resources and things we often take for granted here in the U.S., like fast Internet, available healthcare, clean water and safety. The CI team there faces more significant challenges such as frequent insecurity, unrest, conflict and disease. But, the team is resilient, hopeful and works together in that same spirit of Tuko Pamoja. There are lots of every-changing internal (infrastructure, development and funding) and external (Ebola, local violence and insecurity and the coronavirus) that constantly come into play.
CI-USA enjoys a collaborative and thoughtful work environment. There is a demonstrated longevity and commitment, as two of the team members have been there more than ten years. They work well together as a team despite being spread out across the county. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some staff worked remotely. Now, they are all working from home, finding ways to stay connected and work collaboratively through virtual tools.
They are primarily known by their supporters and donors here in the U.S. for two things: their main institution, UCBC, and their commitment to being Congolese-led. Those they serve in Congo primarily identify all their work as UCBC or “Bilingue” (the bilingual aspect of UCBC). However, some of their other programs that are demonstrating significant impact—like Bethesda Counseling Center—are becoming more known. The global Church is highly supportive and recognizes CI as a Christian organization and, more specifically, as a Christian university. In addition, outside of Congo, the Church sees them as doing something new in “missions.” This is a message they speak a great deal about to church communities.
NOTE: Over the years, stakeholders have sometimes wrestled with understanding the identity of Congo Initiative as it relates to UCBC and its other programs. The board and staff are currently undergoing an Organizational Assessment and Revisioning process to provide clarity for themselves, beneficiaries, and stakeholders.
And there are still a number of additional challenges to be addressed by CI-USA, not the least of which are the relatively small footprint CI holds in the faith community here and the challenge of continuing to instill confidence in donors while working in such a volatile area of the world. As is the case with most ministries, there are way more “needs” than there are resources. The vision is big and the needs are many, but per the staff, “we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves.”
The new Executive Director must be a person of great faith who has experience working within an African context. They should be aware of and/or appreciate the logistical, technological, and cultural complexities of working in Congo. S/he must embrace the idea of working as a community of partners in a Congolese-led ministry. Words like humility, responsiveness, collaborative, fun, passionate, flexible, courageous, wise, curious, teachable, relational, strategic, innovative, self-motivated and culturally adept apply to this person. Understanding the “vertical” collaboration—a calling from God and a commitment to prayer—is even more important than the “horizontal” collaboration.
The ideal candidate may be currently serving as a VP/executive-level leader or in a key development role in a larger international nonprofit, or they could be the missions/global outreach pastor at a large “missions-minded” church. They must also be a team developer and effectively serve as the public face of the organization here. S/he will have an in-depth understanding of and commitment to fundraising and advocacy. And due to the nature of the Congolese vision at the heart of CI, they must also be able to be directive in terms of leading the USA work, but collaborative and supportive when it comes to the ministry on the ground. This is a unique opportunity to lead an organization in the USA—in partnership with others around the world—that will literally change the future of a nation.
Title: Executive Director USA
Reports to: Board of Directors
Direct Reports: Communications Director, Administrative Manager, Development Director, Ambassador
Position Location: Durham, NC (preferred); East Coast; or possibly remote
The CI-USA Executive Director is the senior most staff member, responsible for setting vision and strategy for Congo Initiative’s US-based work in fundraising, communications, partnership development, and human resource support on behalf of Congo Initiative. The Executive Director works in close collaboration with the President of Congo Initiative-DRC and the Rector of Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (CI-UCBC) in Congo to ensure that CI’s US-based strategy aligns with the goals and priorities of the organization globally.
Lead CI-USA in fulfillment of its vision and mission, with a clear understanding of how to set organizational priorities and achieve goals.
Represent CI publicly at conferences, fundraising gatherings, and other events.
Set the direction for sustainable, organizational growth.
Actively engage and mobilize Board Directors, staff, and volunteers.
Develop, maintain, and support a strong and healthy Board of Directors.
Facilitate strategic planning process, ensuring that staff, Board, and partner voices are represented fairly.
Ensure effective systems to track progress, and regularly evaluate program components, so as to measure successes that can be effectively communicated to the Board, funders, and other constituents.
Oversee general operations, annual budget, and all expenditures.
Hire new staff and recruit/manage volunteers, as needed.
Lead in the creation and execution of an overall financial resource development strategy.
Oversee comprehensive communication plan, deepening and refining all communication outputs.
Serve on International Council (Congo Initiative leaders from UK, USA, and DRC), meeting virtually monthly and 1-2x year in-person to coordinate resource development efforts, budgeting processes and program strategy.
Communicate frequently with CI and UCBC leadership teams in Congo.
An unwavering and passionate commitment to CI’s mission.
Skilled in cross-cultural understanding and relationships.
Strong fundraising experience preferred, understanding of marketing, public relations, and possesses the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures.
Ministry experience working in Africa and working cross culturally in a fragile context or conflict zone preferred.
Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage, and develop effective teams/committees, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget.
Ability to quickly learn about CI’s operations and constituencies, with the ability to relate well and communicate clearly with CI personnel and partners.
Deep understanding of how to represent and translate the mission of CI to a largely American audience.
Excellent communication (written and oral) skills, including experience in public speaking.
Excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills.
An impeccable degree of personal integrity.
Highly self-motivated and self-directed.
Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s preferred in Nonprofit Management, Organizational Leadership, or related field.
Ability/willingness to travel both domestically and internationally.
Salary: $75–85,000, depending on experience.
Benefits: A healthcare stipend of $6,000 per year for an individual or $10,000 per year for a family.
Vacation: Fifteen (15) days for years 1–5, expanding to twenty (20) days thereafter.
Relocation: Negotiable, but not to exceed 10% of salary.
Travel: A minimum of 7–10 trips per year, including one to DRC (perhaps more in Year One).
To learn more about the work of Congo Initiative, visit www.congoinitiative.org. To download the latest (or previous) CI–USA Annual Report, click here. If, after reviewing this information, you believe this role fits you well, please click on APPLY NOW below. Or if you know someone you would like to forward this opportunity to, please use the social media tools at the top of the page.