Volunteer Expert Receives VEGA Volunteer Award

Lisa Larson, an experienced IT management, software development, and organizational change consultant, received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) for her work in Cambodia and Lebanon.

The award was presented on Tuesday, December 5, which is recognized by the United Nations as International Volunteer Day. The award ceremony also recognized several members of Congress for their championing of American volunteerism .

Lisa Larson has been recognized by VEGA for her volunteer work in Cambodia and Lebanon.

Larson volunteered in Cambodia and Lebanon for IESC, which has several international projects that are managed by VEGA with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In Cambodia, Larson lent her support to a project that is strengthening that country’s many non-governmental organizations and nonprofits that struggle to support Cambodia’s most vulnerable people, such as those living in extreme poverty, people with HIV/AIDS, victims of human trafficking, and disabled veterans.

Over her two-month assignment, Larson worked with some of these organizations to help them assess their current capabilities and future sustainability plans. She developed a simple, but effective tool to measure an organization’s readiness to transition from one that is reliant on donor funding to a self-sustaining social enterprise.

“The tool looked at people, processes, and technology,” Larson said. “Most organizations have one or maybe two of these capabilities, but need to build the others before they can even consider a sustainability plan.”

The permanent project team in Phnom Penh is using results of Larson’s assessment to develop customized improvement plans that address gaps.

In Lebanon, Larson volunteered with an environmental and educational community organization to help them develop a comprehensive strategic plan for an environmental tourism initiative for the town of Aley, Lebanon. The organization has already invited her back in 2018.

“Using my skills in new ways gives me new perspectives on how to have a more purpose-driven career,” said Larson. “Visiting places I would not ordinarily go and living and working with the most wonderful people—many of whom are close friends long after I leave—fills me with happiness and a sense of purpose.”


IESC is Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that is dedicated to private sector solutions for equitable, sustainable economic growth around the world. IESC supports and catalyzes the development of small and medium enterprises and the public and private institutions that support these enterprises. Since its founding in 1964, IESC has completed more than 25,000 volunteer assignments, created or saved more than 1.5 million jobs, and worked in 137 countries. IESC is a lead member of VEGA.

VEGA is a consortium of volunteer-sending, nonprofit organizations that generate prosperity worldwide by creating partnerships that bring together volunteers with people seeking skills for self-reliance. Since 2004, VEGA has impacted the livelihoods and futures of over five million people with the USAID and other partners through 65 programs in 50 countries and more than 47,000 volunteer days, saving more than $34 million taxpayer dollars.

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.