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Governance Development

The IFES Living Stones vision highlights good governance as a firm foundation upon which healthy, growing national student movements are sustained. In 2010, general secretaries of IFES national movements identified governance as one of the areas in which there was the greatest need for assistance. They also said it was a contributing factor to high staff turnover in some situations. In response to their plea for help in this area, IFES launched the national movement Governance Development Program in 2011. 

From 2011-2014, during the first phase of the program development, IFES developed, refined, and translated governance training materials in conjunction with external and internal specialists. These were then delivered by an international, multi-lingual team of 30+ trainers in the format of three-day in-country trainings to national boards. 
By the end of 2017, 121 national movements had been trained, and 37 refresher training visits had been made in the course of two years since their introduction in 2016. Altogether over 1,700 board members have been trained. Training has been conducted in five major languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. 


Mirek Pieszka, Governance Development Program Director

Mirek was a pioneer and founding member of ChSA Poland. He spent a number of years as part of the IFES Europe regional team before becoming Director for the Governance Development Program. He travels to different national movements and IFES regions as a speaker and trainer of the Governance Program, promoting the good governance culture development across IFES. Together with the Governance Development Program Team, he has moved the program from a one-off training phase to an on-going program that places governance development as an integral part of regional and national events. By recruiting regional champions and the next cohort of trainers from across the IFES regions and cultures, Mirek is moving toward his goal of promoting good governance that fits every national context. He is still passionate about leadership development at all levels of the ministry, from student leaders to the national boards. Mirek is married to Ewathey have three grown-up children. 


Governance Development Program Team

Christy Jutare, General Secretary IVCF Philippines
David Bahena, Regional Secretary for Latin America
Eric Makon, Regional Team Member for Francophone Africa
Howard Spencer, senior staff AFES Australia
Joanna Poon, Governance Development Project Assistant
Erika McCulloch, Logistics and Admin Assistant for IFES Global Ministries

The team produces resources such as ready-to-deliver modules on important governance issues and evaluation tools to stimulate the growth of a board’s effectiveness. In addition, they provide direct assistance to national boards through follow-up visits.


Aims and activities

The aim of the Governance Development Program is to ensure each national movement can be a wisely-governed, well-structured, God-honouring ministry. We want to build a strong culture of good governance for each national movement; governance that is relationship-driven, Bible-centred, expertise-based, strategy-focused and equipping for impactful ministry. 

Many newly formed boards and newly appointed board members have a great enthusiasm for supporting student work, but little experience or knowledge in governance. This ministry provides training sessions and materials to national movement boards and board members all over the world, teaching appropriate procedures, decision-making processes, distribution of power, record-keeping and fair leadership. 

Training weekends often include times of prayer and Bible study, as well as training on such topics as commitment to good governance, practical functioning of the board and clarity of roles and relationships. In addition, there is time to discuss the application of governance principles in different legal and cultural contexts. 



‘The commitment of IFES to developing good governance has been exemplary. This has been a thoughtfully designed programme which brings well-researched governance principles and practices together within a biblical framework.’
Jenny Charteris, Organisational Consultant, Gracewell Consulting

National movement participants who received training said they especially felt the benefit in the following ways: clarifying of roles and responsibilities, increased confidence and commitment of board members, improved relationships between the board and the general secretary, better understanding of strategic planning, new ideas for practical functioning of the board and a generally better understanding of and commitment to good governance. 

We did not realise the extent of impact and strategic importance a board has in defining and summarising the policies and missions that are carried out by the general secretary and staff. We have also been taught a set of useful and practical procedures for board meetings.’ ​
Germain L N Kabou, Board Chair, GBUSS Senegal

‘This training perfectly answered the questions we had been facing as a board. It is a great tool, was brilliantly brought to us and we are grateful to God for this work on governance made available.’ ​
Board member, GBU Portugal

‘The governance training has marked a “before” and “after” in the life of CCUH Honduras. I encourage all movements to take this training, to get to know the manual, apply the principles it describes and incorporate each teaching in the movement’s work agenda. I encourage all movements to take this training, to get to know the manual, apply the principles it describes and incorporate each teaching in the movement’s work agenda.’  ​
Betuel Ayes, General Secretary CCUH Honduras


Components of Governance Development

Initial trainings 

Our aim with these two and a half day trainings for national boards is to equip them to develop a culture of good governance that will empower them to better achieve their mission in the national ministry. All participants receive a training manual for future reference and the training and resources are available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. 

Follow-up visits 

This follow-up coaching aims to ensure a lasting impact on board development by providing resources specifically tailored to a board’s individual needs. We desire to see ongoing growth in the effectiveness of each board’s service to their national movement. 

Coaching scheme 

The goal of this program is to model good governance development through an ongoing coaching relationship with selected national boards in different IFES regions. By investing more intentionally into a few chosen boards in the region, our aim is to inspire other boards in the ongoing process of growth in good governance. 

New modules  

We are producing new modules responding to the needs of boards relating to topics such as VisionMission & ValuesTrustPolicy as a Governance ToolIndigenous Support’, ‘Managing Change’ and ‘Supporting the General Secretary, amongst others. 


We currently have online Governance Development modules on Board Evaluation’, ‘VisionMission and Values’ and ‘Strategic Planning. In making these e-learning programmes available we hope to increase access to training material for boards, staff and students by making learning convenient and flexible. We also hope online platforms may provide increased opportunities for interaction between national movements. 

Online board self-evaluation tool – board culture and board practice surveys  

Self-evaluation has been identified by a significant number of training participants as a key factor in improving board performance and we have produced the online Board Culture and Board Practice Self-Evaluation surveys as a response to the request for tools and processes for board evaluation. 


Support this ministry

This strategic work depends on the prayerful support and financial gifts of our supporters. 

Here are some ways you can pray for this ministry: 

  1.  The number of the delivered initial Governance Trainings and follow-up visits, as well as the interests expressed in joining the Governance Coaching scheme, far exceeded our expectations. Praise God for all the trainings that have taken place so far!
  2. Pray for positive and long-lasting effects of the trainings – for the impact on student ministry and on the financial sustainability of the national movements. 
  3. Pray for the current cohort of trainers of the Governance Development Program and for the scheduling of requested training. 

Please also consider making a one-time or regular gift to support this ministry.

‘God gives space for us to work together with him, and this is also true in good governance development. Good governance is not a given. We need to work on it and to care for it. Growing a good governance culture and practice is a process. It takes time and requires commitment and faithfulness.’  
Mirek Pieszka, Governance Development Program Director



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