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  • Writer's pictureREI

New Staff, More Impact

By Wendy Moore, Director of Communications and Foundation Relations, HQ


“REI is an organization with a clear goal of transforming people and nations,” one new staff shared as something that stood out to him during the New Staff Orientation (NSO).


REI hosted its NSO for four new staff this past week, September 18-22, 2023. These new staff came to Colorado Springs to participate in a week-long training program designed to help them get to know REI and headquarters’ staff, while laying the foundation for cross-cultural life and fundraising. During this week, the new staff got to stay in the homes of REI staff and friends, enjoyed meals together and began cultivating important relationships that will provide support for them as they prepare for and then leave for their overseas assignments.

New staff enjoy an al fresco dinner with the Smidts in Black Forest, Colorado

Each day of training was filled with a variety of sessions, from learning about REI’s history and how to talk about REI’s mission and vision and values to sessions that began looking at what’s required to live and work successfully in cross-cultural contexts. They learned tips for staying safe while living abroad and strategies for dealing with the unique stresses that come up. They also learned about everything REI does to keep personal and organizational information secure.


While the week provided them with an overwhelming amount of new material at times, their excitement and anticipation for what they were preparing to do grew. Each of them had their own highlights from the week and took the opportunity to reflect and provide feedback on what they learned.

New staff dining with the Teels in their home

One staff shared, “The value of partnering with governments and institutions is really a unique way to engage with nations, and is REI’s distinct contribution.”


“People are a nation’s greatest resource,” another staff shared when reflecting on what stood out to him during the training.


Other staff members highlighted how well REI has intentionally thought about the work they do in these countries, providing clearly defined professional goals.


We finished off the week with a celebration and congratulatory send-off before the staff headed back to their homes, committing to do fundraising and making professional and personal preparations for going to work overseas.

Susanna Gray, Rachel & Brad Fitzgerald, and James Ong

In a few months, these staff will return to Colorado Springs for a few weeks of Pre-Field Training (PFT), when they will be more fully trained and equipped to effectively live and work cross-culturally, before they make their final departures for the field.

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