Volunteer Stories

Karen Barnett


Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

This article was originally written and published by Land O'Lakes International Development here

Name: Karen Barnett

Current title/profession: Strategy Consultant for eKutir

Current hometown: New York, New York

Areas of expertise: Sustainable innovaiton, fundraising, nonprofits, strategic communications


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Location of the project: Lebanon

Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development


Green Hand is a Lebanese nonprofit fully run by unpaid, but highly motivated team members. For years, Green Hand executed dozens of projects around the country from the help of over 1,500 volunteers. The organization sprouted from the founder’s passion to promote environmental well-being by highlighting the cultural and economic value of native plant species. However, over the years, the team would take on any project that the communities asked for, and  as a result, rather than a corps of unified volunteers, The Green Hand team became disparate groups working for diverging purposes.

Under the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program that is implemented in Lebanon by Land O’Lakes International Development, Karen Barnett came in as a volunteer consultant to work with Green Hand to clarify the organization’s vision and mission and, within that lens, to develop an organizational structure. Karen has a background in operations and project management. At Green hand, hergoal was to facilitate and streamline decision-making processes so Green Hand could run effectively after she left Lebanon. 

Karen’s first step of the process was to understand the current organizational structure, its strengths and where it needed improvement. Team member interviews highlighted a key conflict. Zaher Redwan, the founder of Green Hand wanted the organization to continue its success without him as leader in three years, yet, because of organizational gaps, team motivation decreased over time, making his leadership more essential.

To alleviate this conflict, Karen worked with team members to take part in developing the organizational structure. From their input and consideration, Karen revised a vision and mission for Green Hand that every team member could connect with. As a group, Zaher and the team prioritized which objectives they would want to achieve in the next few years in order to attain that mission.​

A small group of Green Hand members took part in the structural changes. To get the whole team’s buy-in, Karen developed a streamlined process for each commission to review their team’s structure and tailor it as needed. Through Karen’s work and by revising their own team structure and objectives, Green Hand members have more ownership of their work and how to accomplish it.

Now, the Green Hand nonprofit has a unified vision and the team will be able to work toward a long-term goal and improvie its services throughout Lebanon.

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