The Power of Partnerships, by Sherry Mueller and Claudia Del Pozo

The impact of a vibrant organization can often be measured by the quality of the partnerships it has forged. As noted by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, authors of the seminal work entitled Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, one of those practices is working in coalitions – building partnerships.
As the leaders of PDCA work with our members to deliberate and establish policies for our newly merged organization, we embrace three guiding principles:
1.    We are committed to developing multigenerational leadership and subscribe to the notion that leadership is giving ownership to the maximum number of people.
2.    We believe that maintaining active partnerships is essential to maximize impact.
3.    We are building an inclusive, diverse, and dynamic professional association dedicated to the mission of promoting excellence and honoring achievement in the professional practice, academic study, and advocacy for public diplomacy.
This article focuses on the second principle. Legendary management consultant Peter Drucker was known for saying “Partner or die”. In fact, the merger of the Public Diplomacy Association of America and the Public Diplomacy Council in April 2022 would not have happened without first having a robust partnership (a Joint Program Committee, for example) as the basis of our merger discussions. We had already built trust among leaders of both organizations by working together.
Taking an inventory of an organization’s partnerships is one way to engage in strategic planning. Which partnerships are essential and should be strengthened? Which are no longer useful and should be abandoned? Are there new partnerships that would help the association grow and provide more services and opportunities to its members? What steps need to be taken to implement answers to these questions? By whom?
As part of a larger planning process, PDCA is recognizing its partnerships on a list that appears on our website. It is an impressive array that gives us access to resources, provides training and mentoring opportunities for our members, and amplifies our programs as well as our advocacy efforts.

To illustrate -- one partnership that is essential to our operations is the PDCA relationship with the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. That partnership was established thanks to former PDC President Adam Clayton Powell, III more than ten years ago, when the First Monday Forums were created to provide monthly programs on a wide range of public diplomacy topics.
The USC Center still cosponsors the First Monday Forums. Professor Nick Cull serves on the PDCA Board as well as the Program Committee. He has organized programs including My Place in the Sun - Life in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Washington featuring George Stevens Jr., Gifts as Public Diplomacy, and Broadcasting to the USSR – History and Precedent. The Center also provides tech hosts and space in DC to hold board meetings and off the record informal luncheons.
As we prepare to resume in-person programs, we have developed another important partnership with the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at George Washington University. As of March, the Institute will cosponsor the First Monday Forum, providing a venue in the Lindner Family Commons Room at the Elliott School.

Another example of a long-standing partnership is our relationship with the Council of American Ambassadors (CAA) since 2013, first as PDC and now as PDCA. We provide mentors for the Kathryn W. Davis Public Diplomacy Fellows. The Davis Fellowship is awarded annually by CAA to two mid-career FSOs who have demonstrated the commitment and creativity to become leaders in the field of public diplomacy. Our mentors advise the fellows on salient topics and connect PDCA with the next generation of public diplomacy professionals.
We consider our members our most important partners. We count on your support and participation and invite your comments and suggestions.
Sherry Mueller, Ph.D. is Co-President of the Public Diplomacy Council of America.  Claudia Del Pozo is the Hans “Tom” Tuch Graduate Fellow at PDCA.