I am writing to inform you of our CEO Joy DiBenedetto’s decision to leave Friendship Force International to pursue her own path and set her own pace. I regret her departure, as never before have I met a person more dedicated to an organisation, more connected to our mission of friendship, and more energized by the prospect to put FFI into the limelight.
Joy joined us two years ago with a wealth of fresh ideas that made her the icon of change many had been asking for. She connected with people instantly. She so wanted to make Friendship Force relevant to the next generation and to bring the organisation into the modern world of online social interaction. This will be her legacy: she opened minds to possibilities. She stretched our minds so that they will never shrink back to their original dimensions. The journey will continue without her and we will find our own pace, but we should stay true to our destination. Change must come to FFI. We all care too passionately about Friendship Force to shorten our horizon.
To ease the transition for everyone, Joy will stay in place as CEO until October 30, 2015. After that date, if the new CEO is not already in place, the Atlanta team can keep things going with the Board’s guidance on major issues. One adjustment we will make is to put the implementation of the e-membership initiative on hold and use the Vancouver conference to consult you further. The Board has done a lot of work on that policy only to conclude fundamental issues need more discussion. We are now developing an executive transition plan to assess priorities. Implementation of the fill-the-seat policy will continue and revised fees and policies for domestic and EU plus Schengen interclub journeys will come into effect, as planned, in 2016. As for the search for a new CEO, Bob Duncan, Vice-Chair of the Board and known to you as the chief organizer of the New Orleans conference, will lead this effort.
With these adjustments and your support, we can weather this transition. Our Atlanta staff is prepared. The staff reorganization announced last week was the culmination of a year of efforts to strengthen the team and instil more accountability. The retooling is underway. The catalogue of journeys is now first class and, assuming we will get a good proposal, the Board will approve the installation of a new website and data system’s management over the September to February period. Our agenda is clear. We have an excellent strategic plan focused on enriching our journeys and the program and revenues for 2015 are on target. Finally, the Board is strong and willing to help.
I know that Joy leaves with a heavy heart. Her life commitment to peace and friendship dovetailed perfectly with Friendship Force. I thank Joy for her spirited contribution to Friendship Force. I wish her happiness and fulfillment wherever she goes.