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Meet Julia Kennedy of Posner Center for International Development in Curtis Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia Kennedy.

Julia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The Posner Center for International Development is all about collaboration and that’s how we got started. Our home in Denver’s historic Curtis Park neighborhood has a rich history, starting as a Horse Barn for the Denver Horse Railway Company in the 1870s, and then as George E. Turner’s home and Moving & Storage Company until 1932. The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) purchased the Horse Barn in 1992 as part of a community revitalization effort and secured a Denver Landmark Preservation designation. The Posner Center is named in recognition of the generosity of Joanne Posner-Mayer, who helped fund the creation of the Posner Center and whose parents operated a hardware store in the neighborhood until 1973.

After a collaborative design and planning process with the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), iDE, Engineers Without Borders-USA, Denver Urban Gardens and many dedicated partner organizations, our historic Posner Center opened its doors in 2013 as the world’s first collaborative center for international development.

Since then, we’ve become so much more than our collaborative workspace. We are now a community of nearly 200 tenant and member social impact organizations working in over 100 countries, across virtually every sector of global development from sustainability and economic development, to human rights and education. Although the historic “Horse Barn” is still our hub, much of our collaboration is now done virtually with a much larger network of members, partners and colleagues in the communities they serve. We collaborate across the globe for more impact and greater progress toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our shared goal of a more equitable and prosperous world.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In our first seven years, we’ve had a pretty smooth and successful start-up and five-year strategy with the building almost always at full capacity, a growing membership base, increasingly rich capacity-building offerings and expanding strategic programming like our grant-making, annual symposium and Catalyst report on collaborative global development.

One of the challenges we have is around local Denver community engagement. Because of the nature of our global development work, most of it’s not taking place at the Posner Center on the corner of 33rd and Arapahoe. It’s done in communities all over the world – in places like rural farming co-ops, remote villages and schools and community health centers. So, it’s often hard for Denverites to connect with the work we do. They can’t come volunteer for a day like they can at a food bank, refugee center or homeless shelter in Denver. We have to work hard to share our stories, get them involved in our work and illustrate the direct, significant impact our Posner Center organizations are having on people’s lives around the world.

And, of course, we’ll probably look back on this coronavirus pandemic period as one of our toughest challenges. “In a matter of mere months, the coronavirus has wiped out global gains that took two decades to achieve, leaving an estimated two billion people at risk of abject poverty.” (NY Times, April 30, 2020). The Posner Center Community is responding in over 100 countries. It’s an enormous task with coronavirus impacting the communities we serve and the communities where we live. As with many sectors, the way we are working is changing dramatically and many of our operating and project models are becoming obsolete. The end result remains even more critical – ensuring people can lead prosperous, equitable and healthy lives – but how we do it is changing as we speak.

Please tell us about Posner Center for International Development.
The Posner Center brings together organizations to build an engaged, thriving, community – a community where people meet and learn about one another, exchange ideas, access shared resources and support, and ultimately combine their expertise to generate more lasting solutions to global poverty and achieve our UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We are proud of our community spirit of innovation, risk-taking and trust, where failure is just a way of learning.

We are a community of practitioners and agitators who are thinking differently about how we make significantly bigger impacts in global development work through collaboration. Whether it’s through our grant-making for collaborative projects (https://posnercenter.org/what-we-do/grantmaking/), our atypical annual symposium gathering (https://posnercenter.org/what-we-do/symposium/) or our report on collaborative global development (https://posnercenter.org/learn/catalyst-collaborative-global-development-report/), our focus is always on collaboration. We are proud of our community that values collaboration and uses it to make a bigger impact on solving some of our world’s biggest problems (#CollaborateForImpact).

We are a collective network of individuals and organizations that is transforming traditional views of global development, confronting the North-South bias, combatting inequalities and addressing opportunity gaps. We are proud of our Posner Center Community’s (https://posnercenter.org/who-we-are/community/) global perspective, collaborative network and vision of a more prosperous and equitable world.

And now, the Posner Center Community is accelerating their actions to collaborate with each other and partners in over 100 countries, as the spread of COVID-19 threatens global development, especially in low and middle-income countries that already faced significant food security, health-care and climate challenges. As they work with global colleagues, partners and communities to navigate this pandemic, we are especially proud of the resilience, compassion, innovation and bravery of our Posner Center Community (https://posnercenter.org/covid-19/).

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our Posner Center Community of tenants and members, including those that worked with many dedicated partners to establish the Posner Center nearly a decade ago, deserve the credit for the success of the Posner Center. We are our Community and their collaboration is the value-add that makes the Posner Center unique.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1031 33rd Street, Denver, CO 80205
  • Website: www.posnercenter.org
  • Email: info@posnercenter.org

Image Credit:
Posner Center

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