HKI’s Kathy Spahn Joins TOMS Panel to Share the Power of Partnerships

During the annual United Nations General Assembly this September, social action platform Global Citizen and socially responsible retailer TOMS rallied New York City to build a better tomorrow through a Community Action Hub. Helen Keller International was proud to participate in The Power of Partnership, a panel discussion that brought NGO leaders together to reflect on ways in which working together can magnify impact.

HKI’s President and CEO Kathy Spahn was joined by Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin, Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles, International Medical Corps President Nancy Aossey and ayzh Founder and CEO Zubaida Bai. TOMS Chief Giving Officer Amy Smith moderated the discussion that emphasized the strategy of partnering to achieve common goals.

The words of our founder Helen Keller truly reflect the philosophy and spirit of our organization: Alone we can do so little … together we can do so much. Indeed, as Spahn says, “partnership is [part of] our DNA”.

HKI looks for partners with complementary skills, but also with tools that can help us achieve our objectives. “Whether it’s Merck that donates the medicine that prevents river blindness, or TOMS that donates shoes so parasitic worms don’t enter children through the soles of their feet and end up consuming all the nutrition that they’re eating, we can’t do it without partnerships.  We also look for local partners who can adapt our programs and make them their own, ensuring the work will continue long after we are gone. 

The criticality of trust and shared values in building and sustaining meaningful partnerships was a recurring theme throughout the live-streamed event.

When the floor was opened for questions, the panelists offered career advice to the crowd, urging young professionals to use the early part of their career to build skills and understand their interests and strengths so they could later follow them. The panel closed with a brief discussion about the importance of allowing nongovernmental organizations the funds and opportunity to think intelligently and strategically.

Watch the panel, and follow #GCxTOMS for more discussion.