Two years ago at the General Assembly in Istanbul, you have elected me as Vice President of this wonderful organization—and thus allowed me to take on this incredibly rewarding journey that took me to countless conference rooms (often in the basement) all over the globe. In this time, I was mocking Erdogan in a video we shot in Istanbul, discussing liberal solutions to climate change in Indonesia, promoting economic education in Jordan, fighting for the implementation of our ideas of modern liberalism at the Liberal International Congresses in Marrakech and Andorra and much much more. During this time, I have often reflected on what the purpose of our work is. What is its meaning? I think we often play down our impact that we have on people’s lives. Just because it is hard to change political structures, it does not mean that we do not leave footsteps and traces behind. The idea of freedom is powerful. The ones that get involved with us get inspired and shaped by the experiences and discussions they have during our meetings, seminars, and rallies. More importantly, they become friends. Friends they can count on—even when times look dark. This is what is at the heart of IFLRY. But to make this heart beat strong enough, we need capacity, foresight, and a clear vision. And this is where I see my role as Secretary General: to help to strengthen this very core of IFLRY and to carefully think of and implement all the necessary steps to make things happen. This is the theme of my candidacy; yet, this is not a top-down platform. I do not want that my experience and my role as Vice President are limiting my view. I want to discuss all sorts of ideas. With the newbies and the veterans. And everybody in between.
Here are some of my ideas:
Ensuring the Heartbeat: Organizational Capacity & Openness
As of today, we will be able to offer more seminars and events than ever before. We have been granted enormously generous grants by our donors—and we will thus globalize freedom all over the world, ranging from Taiwan and Armenia to Brussels. At the same time, we will need to ensure the office relocation is managed carefully, satisfy our donors, and keep track of existing grant applications while reaching out beyond the traditional scope of EU funding. And we are not even speaking of all the little things that happen that occupy our daily business. All this demands strong leadership, delegation, and the ability to recognize one’s own limits. It demands experience and determination. During my last term in the Bureau, I have stood for these values and virtues. It is the basis of IFLRY’s organizational success. But there is more. There needs to be more. The Secretary General is not limited to administrative tasks. With a two-year mandate at hand, the Secretary General has a more strategic role. One that I will emphasize.
Building the Core: Sustainability, Inclusiveness & Excellence
IFLRY has become bigger and more professional. This is great. But it also takes more capacities than ever before. With a Bureau dispersed over the whole globe and only equipped with the modest administrative resources that we have at our disposal, it is crucial that we bring more people to the heart of IFLRY. With our Regional Bureau Members Lidia, Farah, Pedro, and Ivanpal, we have already established further integration in the last years. This process has to continue in order to make IFLRY’s growth sustainable. For example, our communications have to be more decentralized and flexible. Libel is already on the right track in realizing this ideal, but it needs to go further. This could be in establishing a Pool of IFLRY Ambassadors (similar to the Pool of Trainers) that would be equipped with tools and possibly a financial budget (e.g. to design an IFLRY One-Pager that could be circulated at MO events) and with the ability to contribute to IFLRY’s success besides training or participating in our events.
Extending the Core: Explore New Formats & Topics
Having a clear vision of the core of IFLRY does not mean to narrow down our efforts. It means the opposite. It enables us to explore new formats that complement our goal to become a global leader in non-formal education and a central platform to discuss modern liberalism outside the tight boundaries of ordinary politics. This could mean to bring the unconventional IFLRY spirit to “unexplored territories”—in terms of location (e.g. a field trip to Central Asia) as well as topics (e.g. open borders, blockchain, entrepreneurship). IFLRY is most compelling when it is actively experienced—by people and donors.
This is by no means a conclusive list. But a conversation starter. With more to come.