Strategic blueprint for 62-year-old nonprofit includes return to DC, establishment of Centers of Excellence, and new Leadership Team


BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 6, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 62-year-old nonprofit YFU announces bold new vision, including the strategic blueprint to relocate headquarters to DC's historic Wonder Bread Factory, establishment of Centers of Excellence, and new Leadership Team.


  • YFU USA Sets Bold Vision for Next Decade
  • YFU USA to Move Headquarters to Historic Wonder Bread Factory
  • YFU USA Welcomes New Vice President of The Exchange Experience/Chief Compliance Officer
  • YFU USA Welcomes New Vice President of Programs
  • About YFU & Downloadable Images

This summer, Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) welcomed Michael E. Hill as its new President & CEO. With this appointment came a mandate from the organization's Board of Trustees to radically reenergize the 62-year-old intercultural exchange organization. Now seven months into his tenure, Hill is proud to unveil a new blueprint for YFU that includes a renewed emphasis on programs and customer service, and significant enhancements to facilities and leadership structures meant to propel YFU USA to a leadership position within the exchange arena.
YFU's outline for the next decade includes building upon institutional roots to create international connections and understanding for a more peaceful tomorrow by further enhancing program quality and the overall exchange experience.

The new vision will be implemented through the creation of four Centers of Excellence which will guide YFU's work.

The four Centers of Excellence will include:

  • Educational and Programmatic Excellence -
    A unified standard of excellence will be the hallmark for YFU programming. By integrating programmatic and educational work into a unified center, YFU will harness the strengths of all program staff, volunteers and key stakeholders to ensure programs are the best in the industry.
  • Uniting the Exchange Experience -
    YFU programs are dependent upon students, host families, schools and volunteers coming together to create a truly transformative exchange experience. By uniting three core departments that prepare, assist and assess the exchange experience under one administrative grouping, YFU will better be able to refine and measure any changes and/or needed updates to ensure quality programs while being responsive to the people that make those programs work.
  • Systems Innovation & Customer-Centered Operations -
    YFU's new strategic plan calls for a significant upgrade in support systems to meet changing needs and provide innovative and user-centered platforms.
  • Engaging our External Audiences with a Singular Voice -
    YFU is a volunteer-driven organization that relies on the goodwill of its various communities. The new roadmap calls for an emphasis on serving YFU's 250,000 alumni, its 1,500 volunteers across the nation and strengthen the YFU brand. In addition to other advances, the organization's newly created External Affairs division will bring together YFU communications, marketing, development and alumni relations efforts under one umbrella, allowing the organization to more easily focus on messaging and overall mission.

"YFU has an incredible history as a leader in innovation and service to young people who want to experience the world through exchange. Our new vision retains that core mission but returns to the roots of our Founder, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Rachel Andresen, who believed that young people could transform the world if they understood other cultures better," Hill said in unveiling the outline of the organization's new vision. "Our work in the coming decade will emphasize that belief while making the necessary internal upgrades needed to lead the industry into the future."


Organization returns headquarters to Washington, DC after 11-year-absence, adding significant new programming and educational space

Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) today officially announced that in the fall of 2014, the organization will be returning its national headquarters to Washington, DC. With the organization's current building lease ending early next year, YFU decided to explore opportunities to relocate the national office into the heart of our nation's capital. The new office space at the historic Wonder Bread Factory is centrally located and will play a pivotal role in a new era for the 62-year-old organization.

Over the course of the past year, the organization has committed to developing and implementing a new vision, commencing with the creation of four YFU Centers of Excellence. This new physical space at Wonder Bread will promote strong collaboration amongst these units and allow increased opportunities for community engagement.

"YFU has a rich legacy built over more than six decades of excellence in cultural exchange, but we cannot simply rely on our past if we are to develop and expand our programs to provide the best possible experiences and opportunities," said Michael E. Hill, YFU President & CEO. "In today's world, the principles of youth exchange are as relevant as ever, and we believe that it is within local communities that we will make a global impact and a more peaceful world, which is why it was important to YFU staff and our board of trustees to re-introduce a YFU presence in the DC area."

Occupying nearly 32,000 sq. ft., the new headquarters will provide YFU the opportunity to become a part of the local community, and offer an easily accessible location for visitors and staff. YFU will also introduce a new education center, which will allow for onsite student orientations, volunteer trainings, alumni networking and donor events.

"We're very excited to embark on this new journey, building off the legacy of our founder, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Rachel Andresen and all those whose time, commitment and fearlessness have provided the roots for YFU," Hill said. "This new facility is a visible symbol of YFU's intention to grow in the marketplace through our new centers of excellence. YFU would like to thank Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, our leasing agents, and Norman Jemal and Douglas Development for their incredible partnership in making this move possible."


Messing begins leadership of new role at leading international cultural exchange organization on January 6, 2014

Scott Messing, an experienced strategic executive, has been appointed to fill the newly created role of Vice President of the Exchange Experience & Chief Compliance Officer at Youth For Understanding USA, starting his duties on Monday, January 6.

A seasoned executive with a strong administration and operations background, and a former exchange student himself, Messing was the ideal candidate for the position. As part of YFU's implementation of a new organizational vision, serving as Vice President of the Exchange Experience/Chief Compliance Officer, Messing will lead three departments that combined have the greatest impact on a student and other participants while on exchange. In this capacity, he will provide strategic direction and oversight of YFU's support programs, compliance activities, and education and training initiatives.

"All of us at YFU are delighted to welcome Scott to the organization," said Michael E. Hill, YFU President & CEO, in announcing the appointment. "Not only does he bring years of successful executive-level experience to YFU, he brings the heart and sensibility of having experienced key part of his life as an exchange student. While the organization will be well served by Scott, it's truly our students, host families and other supporters who will most feel the impact of his leadership."

Messing joins YFU from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), where he served as Chief of Staff and Director of Administration and Association Services. In that role, he oversaw human resources, information technology, conference planning, grants administration, and the NAAG management review program.

In addition to his role as Vice President of the Exchange Experience, he will serve as the organization's Chief Compliance Officer, overseeing the relationship between YFU USA and the US Department of State. In this capacity, he will be tasked with creating a proactive government relations approach for YFU.Prior to his time at NAAG, Messing practiced law for a small financial services company and managed operations as the Director of Operations and Global Administration for technology start-up, Boo.com. In addition to his for-profit experiences, Messing has served as a public servant in various management capacities for three different Pennsylvania governors, including an appointment as the Deputy Commissioner of Professional Licensing, overseeing the administration of 25 professional licensing boards and commissions.

Messing spent two semesters at the Universität Heidelberg during his undergraduate education and graduated from Bucknell University with BA's in International Relations and German. He received a JD from Pennsylvania State's Dickinson School of Law with a focus on international law and alternative dispute resolution.

"Joining YFU USA as its Vice President of the Exchange Experience will allow me to utilize the years of professional experience that I have gained to positively impact the students, families and volunteers which define YFU and its mission. My own exchange experiences were undoubtedly some of the most formative periods in my life, so I am humbled to have the opportunity to contribute to others' exchange experiences in a meaningful way," Messing said. 


Veteran YFU employee David Barber promoted to leadership role at leading international exchange organization 

Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) is pleased to announce the promotion of David Barber to fill the newly created role of Vice President of Programs. Barber has been YFU's Director of Admissions & Registration for the last 11 years and has been an integral member of YFU's staff for the past 23 years.

Dedicated to the pursuit of intercultural understanding, the mission, and as a former YFU exchange student himself, Barber was selected to serve as the Acting Vice President of Programs and Director of Admissions & Registration for the past four months. Following an exhaustive national search, Barber was identified as the ideal candidate for the position. In his tenure at YFU, he has held many roles in which he has helped to enable thousands of American teenagers to experience the transformative journey of exchange. He has consistently committed to the engagement of YFU alumni toward improved international understanding and directed staff responsible for both the study abroad program and those involved with the registration of YFU's international inbound students.

As part of YFU's implementation of a new organizational vision, serving as Vice President of Programs, Barber will be responsible for the conception, development and implementation of YFU's program activities. He will work with staff to develop guidelines, criteria and procedures for all international exchange programs, including YFU's inbound high school and community college programs of 1,900+ students from more than 60 partner countries, and the outbound study abroad program. With a focus on developing opportunities to broaden and deepen engagement with young people worldwide, he will also lead new program development and enhance volunteer program initiatives. He will also serve as an executive-level voice for YFU's 1,500 volunteers nationwide.

"It is often said that sometimes that which you most need is right in front of you. That is certainly the case with our appointment of David Barber as YFU's new Vice President of Programs," said Michael E. Hill, YFU President & CEO. "David brings to this role much-needed institutional knowledge, experience overseeing many of the core departments under his purview and a keen analytical mind as we refine our programmatic offerings for young people. But, most importantly, he brings the passion of a former exchange student and a deep, profound belief in the power and abilities of volunteers, all of which is essential for YFU to live into its new vision for the future."

Barber holds a BA in International Relations and German from the College of William & Mary which he credits to pursing after his own transformative journey during his senior year of high school as a Congress-Bundestag Youth exchange scholarship student with YFU in Germany.
"My YFU experience as a senior in high school living abroad in Germany showed me what transformative opportunities await young people around the globe. I knew after my year abroad that I would be involved with YFU in some capacity for the rest of my life. Little did I know back then how much of an impact this experience would have on my professional life. I am thrilled to start this new chapter in my career with YFU and look forward to continuing to dedicate my energy to the success of our wonderful organization," said Barber.

About YFU:

Youth For Understanding (YFU) advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 60 different countries, is united by the belief that full cultural immersion is the most effective means to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected and competitive global society. Selected to administer more government and corporate scholarships than any other high school exchange program, YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs for more than 60 years because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services.

Photos Available:

Contact: Alicia Kubert Smith at akubert@yfu.org, 240.235.2100 x5702 for more information.

YFU Website: www.yfuusa.org


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