Leadership and Management Best Practices for Family Planning

Jason Wright

Health Programs Group Senior Director, Project Implementation (and former LMG Project Director)

The fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) on January 25-28, 2016, in Nusa Dua, Indonesia calls for "Global Commitments, Local Actions.” The conference is co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).

On Tuesday, the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project hosted an auxiliary event on Leadership and Management Best Practices for Family Planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) Chief Executive Officer Jono Quick provided welcoming remarks. Jono told the story of a Kenyan midwife named Victor Omido. After participating in the LMG for Midwives Course, Victor nearly doubled the number of deliveries with skilled birth attendants in his clinic. Jono noted that the LMG Project has supported thousands of midwives and other health workers like Victor around the world.

I provided opening remarks in my roles as outgoing LMG Project Director and incoming Health Programs Group Senior Director, Project Implementation. I placed the LMG Project in historical context. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with MSH on six consecutive iterations of this flagship project:

  • Family Planning Management Training (FPMT): 1985-1990
  • Family Planning Management Development (FPMD) I: 1990-1995
  • Family Planning Management Development (FPMD) II: 1995-2000
  • Management and Leadership (M&L): 2000-2005
  • Leadership, Management, and Sustainability (LMS): 2005-2010
  • Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG): 2011-2016

The USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health (PRH) has continuously hosted the projects; however, as the project mandate has expanded from management to leadership and now governance, funding from the Office of HIV/AIDS under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance for vulnerable populations has come to roughly equal the funding from PRH.

The purpose of the event was to hear stories – from MSH, from three of our partners, and from USAID as our funder – of how our tools and approaches have positively impacted family planning, youth, women in general, and women with disabilities in particular.

Long-time MSH Senior Organizational Development Advisor Barbara Tobin joined MSH in 1992. In her remarks, Barbara stressed the need to go beyond training people to forming and reforming systems since “a bad system will defeat individuals.” She used the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle to describe how MSH addresses the interlocking pieces of systems. She described the evolution of our Leadership Development Program (LDP) to the Leadership Development Program-Plus (LDP+) and the Virtual Leadership Development Program. She cited the examples of Egypt, Nepal, and Kenya and noted the sustainability of the LDP approach, even after MSH leaves a country, as was the case in Nepal. Nepalese colleagues have adapted the LDP to the Results Oriented LDP and continue to use this approach introduced a decade ago to solve challenges today.

MSH Global Technical Lead, Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Fabio Castaño described his experience as a doctor in Peru. Fabio never received management training and relied upon MSH resources including the Family Planning Manager. He described his experience since joining MSH providing technical support in countries from Bolivia and Guatemala in Latin America to Cameroon and Uganda in Africa. He cited the positive results of LDP+ on postpartum family planning as demonstrated by a collaborative study between the LMG and Evidence to Action Projects. He used the metaphor of a Rubik’s Cube to describe how MSH takes into consideration how each intervention affects the system as a whole.

International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) Co-Founder and Vice Chair of Administration Jillian Gedeon mentioned the collaboration between the LMG Project and IYAFP in the youth preconference. Jillian used the metaphor of an airport information desk to describe our project’s “awesome team.” She described how IYAFP had originated at the 3rd ICFP in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She noted how the LMG Project has provided IYAFP comprehensive technical support from legal registration to financial management to resource mobilization including grant-writing.

Emerging Leaders Foundation Founder and Executive Director Caren Wakoli of Kenya described her mentorship of Trocaire Technical Officer Europe Maalim of Somalia under the East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network, supported by the LMG Project. She described how their collaboration resulted in scholarships for 20 young girls and how Europe is now pursuing advanced studies in Liverpool. Caren and Europe have learned from one another with Caren’s background in media and political science and Europe’s training in family planning and reproductive health. Caren used the metaphor of a key to describe how their mentoring relationship has unlocked doors. This mentoring relationship is one of dozens of relationships in the Women’s Mentoring Network. The LMG Project is ensuring the sustainability of the Mentoring Network by transitioning its ownership to the International Planned Parenthood Federation African Regional Office (IPPFARO).

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) Program Manager Suz Dunn described the “amazing partnership” since 2012 between the LMG Project and the Women’s Institute for Leadership and Disability (WILD). Suz used the metaphor of a trampoline to describe how the LMG Project has helped empower women with disabilities. Since 1997, seven WILD programs have trained women from 80 countries. Suz described the training as a “transformational, powerful experience.” WILD increases the pride (with community parades and photo exhibits), builds the confidence (with whitewater-rafting, ropes-climbing, and swimming), and improves the public speaking skills of women with disabilities. She cited the WILD music video “Loud, Proud, and Passionate.” The LMG Project has helped MIUSA develop its first training facilitators’ guide and helped WILD women develop action plans for implementation after they return to their countries.

Finally, USAID Private Sector Team Lead Maggie Farrell provided summary comments. Maggie served as the Agreement Officer’s Representative, i.e., Project Manager, for LMG’s predecessor projects and helped design the current project. She described how the MSH Challenge Model empowers users. She cited MSH innovations in blended learning and online platforms including LeaderNet. She described her work in the Philippines before joining USAID and how she, like Fabio, “would wait for her Family Planning Manager to arrive.” She highlighted the work of MSH in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan. She described MSH’s leadership and management training as unique among implementing partners in enabling sustainable NGOs in Latin America. She credited MSH with mainstreaming leadership and management. She concluded by thanking MSH for its 30+ years of implementing the projects.

This event was the first in a series of LMG Project dissemination events to showcase not just the five years of this project but the 30+ years of all six projects. The LMG Project has conducted a tools inventory and is developing an evidence compendium, which will be available soon. In the meantime, please see two of our latest resources: