IYF Welcomes New Board Chair, A Lifelong Advocate for Locally Led Development

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(Doug Becker, Dina Buchbinder Auron, and Joseph Matalon in Washington, DC.)

On September 7, at a gathering in Washington, D.C. that included current, past, and Emeritus members of IYF’s Board of Directors from around the world as well as partners and Youth Opportunity Ambassadors, IYF’s Board Chair—Doug Becker—stepped down from the position, passing the torch to IYF’s Vice Chair, Joseph M. Matalon.

The fact that I will become the first IYF Chair who is from the Global South is important ... I hope this will be a factor that can be leveraged during my tenure as Chair.

A leader in the business community and a lifelong advocate for positive youth development, Matalon’s passion for youth policy, locally led development, and the power of public-private partnerships is rivaled only by his passion for and pride in Jamaica—his birthplace and home. “IYF is a global organization,” Matalon explained during a Q&A facilitated by former IYF youth board member Dina Buchbinder Auron, “but a majority of our work takes place in the Global South. The fact that I will become the first IYF Chair who is from the Global South is important and can work in our favor. I hope this will be a factor that can be leveraged during my tenure as Chair.”

Doug Becker, who will continue serving on the board as Chair Emeritus, reflected on his tenure and why he’s still committed to IYF’s mission. “I have a sense of pride in what the organization has accomplished and is accomplishing,” Becker said, “but there’s more I know we can do. We’ve helped millions of young people, but as we know the challenge is measured in 10s and 100s of millions. That should not in any way diminish what we’ve accomplished; rather, it should motivate us because I know that IYF can one day impact hundreds of millions.”

If we are to have impact at scale, our third area of strategic focus, Systems Change, needs to undergird all that we do.

Indeed, increasing the scale of IYF’s impact is critical to achieving the organization’s vision for a world in which all young people are inspired and equipped to transform their lives. In fact, it’s at the heart of the organization’s Transformation 2025 five-year strategy. “I very much believe our strategic areas of focus—Youth Agency and Economic Opportunity—are critical to the impact we can make,” said Matalon. “I’m also convinced that if we are to have impact at scale, our third area of strategic focus, Systems Change, needs to undergird all that we do.”

Matalon explained that the role of IYF’s Board of Directors—and the primary role of the Chair—is to offer strategic counsel and above all to “serve the organization and its people, to support them in whatever way possible to maximize the impact IYF can have throughout the world.”

Matalon first became involved with IYF back in 2009 as part of IYF’s OBRA program, a USAID-funded initiative developed in response to U.S. President Obama’s 2009 Summit of the Americas call for renewed and strengthened public-private partnerships promoting greater opportunities for young people in the Latin American and Caribbean region. At the time, Matalon was President of a key local implementing partner, the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica.

Locally led development has always been in IYF's DNA and continuting to lean into it will allow us to scale our inteventions and reach more youth.

“What that experience confirmed for me,” he said, “is the value of locally-led youth development, especially in the context of public-private partnerships. This has always been in IYF’s DNA and continuing to lean into it will allow us to scale our interventions and reach more youth. We do this not just through each program, but by building the capacity of our local NGOs and private sector partners who can sustain that work after we have left.”

Asked about his specific vision for IYF, Matalon said that “It shouldn’t be my vision, or the Board’s vision, or anybody’s individual vision. It’s a vision that we create in consultation with all our stakeholders, and most importantly with young people themselves. They understand best the issues that are most important in their lives. Getting young people into the conversation is critical. This is part and parcel of how we will take IYF’s impact from millions to 10s and 100s of millions.”

To hear more from IYF’s new Board Chair, Joseph Matalon, check out his extended interview.

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