Global Oak Retreat Final Report

The report linked here provides some of the many highlights of the Global Oak Retreat held in Thun, Switzerland, from 19-23 June 2016, which was attended by Trustees, staff and guests.

The retreat was the result of over a year of planning.  Led by Virginia Ruan (Head of Communications) and Presiana Manolova (Programme Officer, Child Abuse Programme), a group of staff from across Oak and Trustees worked together to choose the venue, develop the agenda and plan the special events.

During the course of the year-long lead up to the retreat, staff was consulted on every aspect of the meeting, including issues for plenary sessions, working groups, speakers and internal learning sessions.  The result was a gathering about which all staff felt enthusiastic and in which everyone was engaged.  

According to the evaluation survey done shortly after the retreat, we lived up to the four key words used in the meeting’s objectives: reflect, learn, explore and inspire.

  • We reflected on who we are as a family-led international grant-making foundation, thereby reaffirming our identity.
  • We learned more about how to work as a rights-based foundation committed to social justice issues, thereby reaffirming our approach.
  • We explored the role of philanthropy in addressing some of the most complex  challenges of our time, thereby reaffirming our ambition.
  • We inspired each other to do even more with Oak’s resources, to take risks when potential gains are great, to promote innovation and to address challenges head on, thereby re-affirming our values.

We also agreed on the importance of learning from both our successes and failures and to continue to share experience and knowledge across our offices and programmes, as well as with our grantees.

We hope that this report will remind us of these commitments in the months and years ahead.  While we only hold global retreats every five years, we will continue the dialogue and remain connected in many other ways.  

Despite our spread across six offices and our various programme areas, Oak is connected by common values and a determination to make the world a safer, fairer place for all.  


© Laila Rodriguez