We recently sat down with Petra Němcová, Co-Founder of All Hands and Hearts, to find out what sparked her to become involved with Concordia and to get an insight into her daily work to drive disaster response and preparedness around the world.
Can you give me a quick overview of how you got involved with Concordia, Petra?
For the past 12 years I have been participating in various activities throughout the UN General Assembly. Appointed as a Disaster Risk Reduction Champion and Tsunami Awareness Advocate by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, my efforts eventually led to me joining the Concordia community.
At the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit, together with Frank Guistra, renowned Candadian philanthropist, I participated in the Resilient Response: A Necessary Shift in Disaster-Giving panel, where we shared the critical need to establish long-term, sustainable solutions to disasters, including the advance preparation of funding and programs. I also announced the launch of the Resilient Response Initiative, a pledge to think about first response and the often-missing long-term response. Last year, I was honored to begin serving on Concordia’s Leadership Council.
How have you seen Concordia and the Summit promote partnerships that help foster change? Are there any examples you could give?
Concordia is a critical convener of diverse groups and individuals working to make a difference in the world, and promote impactful and productive partnerships that foster significant change. All Hands and Hearts launched its Resilient Response Initiative two years ago, along with partners Good360, Global Citizen, and a number of corporate partners including Salesforce and Airbnb. This public/private partnership has brought together many companies and nonprofits to rethink the way in which natural disasters are addressed, as they tackle the lengthy road to recovery.
The Concordia Annual Summit is known for being inclusive, bringing together people of many backgrounds and age groups. Why is that so important? And do you think inclusivity can be enhanced with the shift to a digital event?
I have always been appreciative of how the Concordia Annual Summit provides an inclusive platform for world leaders and changemakers from various backgrounds and age groups to come together and share their vision in an open and transparent forum. I especially love Concordia’s focus on youth. I think that this is important, particularly now, as the exchange of dialogue among these different groups is hard, yet necessary, to overcome issues that are causing division across the globe. How can we address today’s uncertain future if we don’t even have the opportunity to sit down and learn from others’ life experiences and perspectives?
At All Hands and Hearts, we are committed to effectively and efficiently addressing the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters, and we can’t do that work without volunteers from all backgrounds. Moreover, I see the Summit as such a wonderful opportunity to connect a network of talented people who can mentor and inspire one another to achieve meaningful change. Not just the youth being mentored but seasoned professionals have a lot to learn from the young bright minds and their passionate hearts. As I have had the luck to have a couple of mentors, without whom I couldn’t be where I am today, I value the importance of mentorship. I could only expect the seeds of many connections and mentorship planted through Concordia.
While I myself value and enjoy in-person interactions, I think a digital event in fact brought together people who normally wouldn’t be able to physically come to the traditional forum. The Summit heard from so many diverse voices and perspectives, which is such an incredible silver lining during this unprecedented time.
Many organizations aren’t meeting this year because of the pandemic. Why was it important for Concordia to convene this year?
This year, more than ever, there is a greater need to come together. The world will never be the same because of today’s pandemic, and we have many new challenges to confront together as a global world. We need to find new ways to connect, as well as new ways to help each other.
Likewise, at All Hands and Hearts, we find creative ways to continue our mission while keeping staff, volunteers, and communities safe and healthy. We have recently adapted our traditional volunteer programs with DM12, a 12-week service commitment to communities impacted by natural disasters. This initiative allows for cohorts to safely volunteer over a longer period of time and is built on our 15 years of disaster relief experience, enabling us to safely restart volunteer operations in 2020. The first DM12 cohort has already begun work in The Bahamas one year after Hurricane Dorian.
What was a highlight for you at the 2020 Annual Summit?
The 10th Anniversary Celebration was a huge highlight for me. It was so important to celebrate this milestone of our shared strength and commitment for creating a better future for all, as this gives us more hope and renews our excitement for the future. I am so grateful to the Co-Founders, Matthew Swift and Nicholas Logothetis of Concordia and their incredible team for their unstoppable dedication to uplifting our world.