The PartnersGlobal story starts, officially, in 1989. The downfall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe left a political and social vacuum, which attracted a flood of foreign consultants who imposed short-term training programs and external policy recommendations on the newly democratic societies. PartnersGlobal took a different path: from the start, we committed to building partnerships and working with local leaders and institutions to create sustainable democratic change and build a strong civil society.

From 1991 to 1994, under our previous name of Partners for Democratic Change, we established six national Affiliate Centers led by trained local professionals, whose expertise over time would replace the need for expatriate consultants. This self-sustaining and locally driven approach has been the cornerstone of the PartnersGlobal model ever since.

Initially, the Affiliate Centers were located within universities in Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. The university venue proved a fertile ground for introducing new ideas and conflict-resolution processes to emerging democracies; previous regimes had stifled innovation and rarely acknowledged the existence of conflict in their societies.

In contrast, the newly democratic societies sought to frame policies, create vibrant institutions, and train professionals to address disputes as a way to manage conflict and create non-violent, democratic-based solutions. PartnersGlobal understood that our role was to facilitate the development of these processes, and to give individuals and institutions the tools to sustain vibrant democracies.

While initially successful, the university model limited Affiliate Centers’ ability to become self-sustaining, so PartnersGlobal began helping Affiliate Centers become fully independent and local civil society organizations. In our model, PartnersGlobal provides start-up funding and technical guidance to establish a strong local organization dedicated to change and conflict management, but each Partners Center is independent, with local staff and their own business model for local funding.

The Partners Affiliate Centers quickly developed into respected local institutions, providing diverse programs across all sectors, along with interactive training, applied mediation and facilitation, and consulting services. Partners Affiliate Centers have also modeled cutting-edge methodologies as well as pioneered specialized fields and a broad range of participatory cross-sector processes.

The Partners Network continues to grow beyond our origins in Europe, now to include Centers throughout Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.  The value proposition of the PartnersGlobal mission has evolved to incorporate the breadth and depth of this large group of local leaders who share a common brand and values, together scaling their democracy and peacebuilding expertise around the world.

Today, PartnersGlobal is one of the most well-respected change and conflict management organizations in the world and we continue to invest in sustainable local leaders and organizations for lasting democratic change. What began as an experiment within academic institutions is now an expanding, innovative international organization with a dynamic Partners Network and strong local ties in more than 50 countries. Partners Affiliate Centers are among the preeminent institutions in their home countries, and have close partnerships with PartnersGlobal and the Network to pursue a common mission while maintaining their local niche and independent regional leadership.

PartnersGlobal continues to grow and apply our deep knowledge and historic experience in organization-building, authentic partnership with local leaders, and sustainable impact investment for change and conflict management. Together with our local colleagues, PartnersGlobal brings to the world a growing Network of professionals ready to accompany people and institutions as they strive to bring about democratic change that is peaceful and sustainable.