New York – Joan Parker, President and CEO of Counterpart International will attend the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting , 50 years after Betty Bryant Silverstein, the leading film actress in Australia, and Father Stan Hosie, a Marist Catholic priest, started the founding organization in Manhattan in 1965.
“Though an unlikely pair, Betty and Father Stan shared a passion for helping others and believed in the right and ability of all people to drive their own destinies,” said Parker. “Fifty years later, Counterpart continues to embrace their vision as we work with local partners to help citizens build more durable futures in 24 countries around the world,” added Parker.
The Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific (FSP) first generated funds from the proceeds of MGM film premiers, including “The Comedians,” starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, and sales from a thrift store on West 55th Street. FSP’s central focus was supporting local communities in the tiny islands of the South Pacific, forgotten by most international funders after World War II.
The organization’s approach to build local capacity to solve local problems was recognized as a driving force in creating lasting impact in improving people’s lives. When the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was looking for a partner to help build the capacity of civil society in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, it turned to FSP, launching a partnership that continues today.
Betty Silverstein went on to receive the Humanitarian Service Award from First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House in April, 2000. “Our ground breaking work in Central Asia continues, with some of the largest social sector networks still operating in the region,” said Parker.
When FSP went global, it chose a new name, “Counterpart International,” that reflected the organization’s approach – serving as a facilitator, connector, and capacity builder for respected local counterpart leaders, organizations and networks.
“As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we are elevating the social sector’s role in the success of the UN sustainability goals, among other key initiatives. I’m looking forward to our membership in CGI and creating new partnerships to accelerate the impact of the social sector,” added Parker.
“This year’s session emphasizes the need to be inclusive, particularly in engaging women and youth,” noted Parker. “Way back in 1965, when Betty and Father Stan set out their guiding principles, gender equity was an explicit principle. Counterpart has never lost sight of this principle and we’ve expanded it to include all marginalized groups. We believe that to build a better future, everyone should participate in civic and economic life, and everyone has assets to bring to their community,” added Parker.