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News & Press: ICA News

Farewell letter from Terry Bergdall

Tuesday, March 31, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Caitlin Sarro
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On March 31, 2015, I will end a six-year journey at the Institute of Cultural Affairs as the chief executive officer in the United States. While these years have been personally gratifying for me, my plan from the beginning was to enable, sooner rather than later, a successful transition to a new generation of leadership. Now, I believe, is the right time to make the move.


My entire vocational life has been informed by the transformative work of ICA. For twenty years, 1969-1989, I served as a regional program officer of ICA in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Japan, Chicago, and Kenya. In Nairobi, I played a leadership role in the restructuring of ICA-Kenya to become a fully African staffed, managed, and governed organization and, thereby, successfully worked myself out of a job. Due to those twenty years, I consider myself, along with many other people around the world, to be a member of the "founding generation" of ICA. I define this as being one who worked for a long period while the original "founder" of this organization, Joseph Mathews, was actively at the helm.


Following my departure from ICA in 1989, I spent the next 20 years working in the professional world of international development assistance. I saw those two decades as a valuable time in applying, adapting, and integrating "ICA-inspired" principles and practices into different working environments.


I was in the midst of a successful international consulting practice when it became widely apparent that ICA-USA had arrived at a crucial crossroads. I thought it critical for ICA's future to identify and preserve essential wisdom from its past. Otherwise, ICA risked becoming "the institute of something else." That would be unfortunate because, as I thought then and continue to think now, the profound insights of ICA are important for the world at large. This was the underlying motivation for me applying to become the executive director at ICA-USA in 2009.


It is with considerable pride that I can report upon the fresh injection of ICA's historical wisdom into the creation of vibrant new programs during the past six years. These include the Accelerate 77 neighborhood program on sustainability in Chicago, ICA's leadership development program with university students, continuation of ICA's Technology of Participation facilitation work, and widespread public recognition of the ICA GreenRise Building as a powerful demonstration of responsible living and working within the 21st Century. All have successfully advanced ICA's mission of building a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth.


It is with confidence that I now turn over leadership of ICA-USA to my successor, Ted Wysocki. He brings to his new assignment a 40-year commitment to community development, in-depth experience in the management of non-profit organizations, and a familiarity with, and appreciation of, ICA culture. As for me personally, I am entering a sabbatical year during which time I will determine my next phase of creative engagement in the world -- for, as I first learned at ICA as a university intern, expenditure is the key to fulfillment. Best wishes to you all as you embody yours.

As we, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, move forward with a transition of leadership of new CEO Ted Wysocki - we want to stop and express our appreciation to our outgoing CEO, Terry Bergdall.Please join us as we reflect on the contributions that Terry has made to our organization and all the growth the ICA has seen under his leadership.

We encourage you to post to Twitter or Facebook to share your positive experiences using the hashtag 
#ThankTerry. This a great chance to honor the work of both Terry and ICA over the years.