ADRA board studies agency’s reorganisation

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Directors of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency voted to receive the Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned charity’s leadership report on a February reorganisation in which 17 full-time employees were terminated.

The February action sparked comment across ADRA’s far-flung international operation and its in-building staff, as well as with some church leaders and lay members. ADRA’s board senior leaders Chairman Geoffrey Mbwana and Vice Chair Ella Simmons—both vice presidents of the denomination—indicated the directors would review the recent reorganisation.

The board of directors takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that the Agency operates with utmost transparency and integrity in all matters.

“After much prayer and deliberation about the future of ADRA and its ministry, the board of directors voted to receive ADRA President Rudi Maier’s report on the recent changes and will continue to move forward and work with management in the development of the strategic mission of ADRA,” a statement released by the agency said in part.

In the statement, Mbwana said ADRA’s “administration and the board do not anticipate any further staff reductions in the foreseeable future.”

He added, “The board of directors takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that the Agency operates with utmost transparency and integrity in all matters.

As ADRA moves forward, we want to provide the staff all the necessary resources to help meet the needs of the millions of vulnerable women, children, and men around the world whom we serve.”

The report was received during an eight-hour board of directors meeting in which Adventist Church president and ADRA board member Ted N. C. Wilson participated. The 37-member ADRA board includes 12 of the world church’s 13 division presidents, and other Adventist leaders with experience in overseas development projects.

Presentation of the report took 90 minutes, with the remaining time devoted to a discussion of the report and other board matters, Mbwana said. A financial report was due to be presented, Mbwana said after the meeting, but time did not permit it. ADRA spokesman John Torres said the agency would release an audited financial statement in June 2011.

The board meeting was followed by a session between Mbwana and Simmons with approximately 40 ADRA employees. The meeting, which was closed to reporters, saw the staffers wearing large, yellow buttons reading “I am ADRA. Committed to our agency.”

In speaking with reporters from Adventist Review and Adventist News Network, Simmons noted that the board established two committees: one is a working committee to “consider the defining elements of ADRA” and the other a standing committee to oversee the group’s bylaws.

Mbwana said the new bylaws committee was deemed “appropriate” by the board since ADRA is “a dynamic organisation.”

“Unfortunately, operating in a tough economic climate has meant ADRA International could no longer support its current staffing model, said Jonathan Duffy, chief executive officer of ADRA Australia. “However, ADRA Australia is continuing to operate as normal, implementing community develop projects throughout Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa.”

“While the economic environment has continued to stretch the budget, with God’s blessing our international program has grown in 2011 and we have just launched two new projects working with indigenous Australians,” said Mr Duffy.