Five Oaks Consulting

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About Us

Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken

Principal Consultant

Summary

An experienced INGO consultant, leadership coach, change management expert, author, evaluator and analyst with strong knowledge of international development, civil society organizations, leadership development, organizational development/organizational change, social development and gender and leadership. Excellent strategic, organizational, team management, communication and mentoring skills. Strong analytical, research and evaluation skills. Co-author of upcoming Oxford University Press book on the future of transnational NGOs and of several academic articles in peer reviewed journals; author of many practitioner-oriented reports, blog posts and essays.

Experience

Tosca’s experience spans think tanks, NGOs, the World Bank, UN and academia. She has worked on civil society issues and social development since 1988. Prior to being the Principal Consultant at Five Oaks Consulting, Tosca worked in a European think tank focused on governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Caribbean; various UN agencies and an American NGO in Cambodia; as Social Development Specialist in the World Bank; and as ‘pracademic’ at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Management at Syracuse University, USA, where she directed the Transnational NGO (TNGO) Initiative. The TNGO Initiative focuses on the governance, leadership and effectiveness of transnationally operating NGOs.

Tosca has worked at the grassroots level in Cambodia as well as with top leaders of global, complex NGOs. She has produced published research, analytical reports, evaluations, essays and other ‘thought leadership’ outputs. She is a co-author of a book ‘Between Power and Irrelevance: the Future of Transnational NGOs’, published by Oxford University Press (July 2020). The book argues provocatively that we should not take such a future for granted for quite a few INGOs, 20-30 years from now.

Tosca has directed, managed and administered programs and had led multiple teams. She has engaged in senior leadership training with over 250 NGO leaders, taught graduate level students including many mid-career students, mentored young professionals in international development, coached executive NGO leaders and facilitated strategic planning meetings as well as workshops.

She works on governance issues from a place of experience, having volunteered on several boards (InterAction, the US national platform for INGOs; Public Interest Registry, the whole sale operator of the Internet domain name .ORG which 10.5 million NGOs and nonprofits use across the globe; ProLiteracy, a premier adult literacy nonprofit in the US; and Cadasta, the start-up organization which supplies communities on their way to empowerment tech tools for accessible, affordable documentation of land rights. Tosca can provide a sector level overview of the changes INGOs should expect and has analyzed the effectiveness of change management approaches used by NGOs – she occasionally interacts with NGO boards on these topics. Organizational culture work is one of Tosca’s particular interests.

Clients

Tosca launched her independent consulting practice in January 2019. Thus far, she has worked with Oxfam America on thought leadership as to the future of ‘influencing NGOs’; with Transparency International on a review of its National Chapter accreditation process; and with Population Council and ProLiteracy on leadership development and executive coaching. Tosca has provided evaluation services to the Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) and to the Transparency and Accountability Initiative. She has spoken at gatherings of leaders of Oxfam and the International Civil Society Centre about leadership during crisis, organizational resilience and innovation. Tosca has coached young leaders hosted through American Councils on virtual team leadership and general leadership skills. She has designed online courses on virtual team leadership skills for social sector leaders and continues to teach as occasional Adjunct Instructor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (USA). She is an Ambassador in the Leap of Reason Ambassador network, an invitation-only group of high-profile nonprofit leaders, analysts, funders and consultants whose mission is to encourage a high performance-orientation among NGOs and nonprofits. Tosca is also a member of Charity Navigator’s Consultative Council of Nonprofit Leaders. She also acts as InterAction Fellow in an honorary, voluntary role. InterAction is the largest coalition of INGOs in the United States. Tosca supports InterAction members in thinking through what ‘next generation’ norms INGOs should consider adopting in the near to mid-term future, to remain relevant, legitimate and effective.

From 2005-2018, while at Syracuse University, Tosca led several consulting teams on change management as well as senior leadership development, with Save the Children, Oxfam, ActionAid, CARE, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, CIVICUS and Population Council as clients.

Areas of support and focus
  • skillful change management
  • understanding of NGO sector level changes
  • cutting edge leadership development
  • virtual team leadership
  • organizational culture work
  • review of governance arrangements
  • design and facilitation of planning meetings, strategy retreats and training
  • organizational learning and evaluations
  • organizational diversity, equity and inclusion strategies
  • gender and leadership work
  • feminist leadership work
Consulting philosophy

Tosca believes in accompaniment, not ‘sage on the stage’ or ‘fly in, fly out’ styles of consulting. She prefers to work with a defined set of organizations in which mutual trust, honesty and truly deep understanding of the organizational identity, mindset and DNA (culture) of client organizations is growing ever stronger. Tosca typically specializes in mid to large size, globally operating INGOs that have ambitious global agendas and frequently have complex organizational forms, although she also enjoys working with start-up, ‘rebel’ type of actors in civil society who challenge ways of working. And she enjoys exposing the two types to each other, to spur innovation.

Work history

2019 – Principal Consultant, Five Oaks Consulting, USA

InterAction Fellow (honorary), InterAction (the largest coalition of INGOs in the US)

Moynihan Research Fellow (honorary), Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public
Affairs, Syracuse University, USA

Ambassador, Leap of Reason community (honorary – an invitation-only community of professionals promoting an outcome orientation among NGOs)

2003-2019        Director, Transnational NGO Initiative, Maxwell School

1995-2001        Social Development Specialist, World Bank (headquarters as well as Vietnam)

1993-1994        Independent consultant, working with UNDP and PACT (an American NGO), Cambodia

1992-1993         District Electoral Supervisor, United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia (UNTAC)

1986-1992         Program and Research Officer, European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), Netherlands

Full CV and list of publications available upon request

Skype: toscabvv48               Mobile: +1.315.720.2135               email: tosca@5oaksconsulting

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Resources to find the right solution.

With Five Oaks Consulting, you benefit from access to a full range of professional expertise that includes decades of international development and social justice experience. We understand the views, mindset and culture of transnational NGOs, as well as other CSOs and what it takes to optimize their organizational assets.

Our practice as thought leaders includes vast experience working inside and with think tanks, the United Nations, the World Bank, and academia, along with a wide range of NGOs.

Each challenge we take on for all of our clients is grounded in rigorous, empirically researched frameworks and strategies that have been thoroughly researched, tested and validated across the public (government and non-government) and private sectors. Our partners especially appreciate our reputation for honesty and integrity.

Work with us and you get a whole world of experience.

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