A long list of individuals and organizations have helped to shape The Global Switchboard, but two organizations are chiefly responsible for its launch – Global Solutions Pittsburgh and Amizade Global Service Learning. Both of these organizations have each paved separate paths of global impact that eventually overlapped to result in The Global Switchboard.
Global Solutions Pittsburgh (GSP) has a long, rich history, both in our region and as part of a national political movement. The predecessor organization to GSP, the World Federalist Association, was founded in response to the devastation of World War II, which prompted many to seek solutions to the threat of global war and the inability of the international community to address this threat. In February 1947, newly formed federalist groups came together in Asheville, NC, and decided to join together to form the World Federalist Association. Later that same year, a meeting was held in Montreux, Switzerland, and the umbrella organization known today as the World Federalist Movement (WFM) was created.
In 2003 the World Federalist Association and the Campaign for UN Reform engaged in a strategic partnership, creating Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS). On April 1, 2004, the World Federalist Association of Pittsburgh followed suit, becoming GSP. The World Federalist Movement continues on as part of an international movement.
Meanwhile the second organization, Amizade Global Service Learning, was founded in 1994. Amizade, the Portuguese word for friendship, was set up as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism, providing community service, encouraging collaboration, and improving cultural awareness in locations throughout the world. In the Spring of 2013 Amizade’s Executive Director, Brandon Blache-Cohen, initiated a series of conversations with leaders of many of the globally-focused organizations in the city of Pittsburgh, seeking shared interest in a co-working environment. Stakeholders imagined that a shared space could raise the visibility of member organizations, and at the same time provide a collaborative environment, wherein members could discover new ways to impact the world. Amizade led the effort to find a location, finance the build-out, and design the membership structure.
To effectively power the creation of The Global Switchboard, Amizade needed a long-term, committed partner. Under the leadership of then Executive Director, Daniel Giovanelli, Global Solutions Pittsburgh was the natural fit both, in terms of their size and in terms of their shared vision for what The Global Switchboard could become. GSP committed to a five-year sublease, full assistance in member recruitment, and in a shared role in facilitating the development of the coalition. And, in so doing, GSP became the anchor to the project.
The network of globally-focused individuals and organizations affiliated with The Global Switchboard grew rapidly. When the initial dream was realized, GSP approached Amizade about an idea to amplify the project’s success. After months of planning, in late 2015 Amizade and Global Solutions Pittsburgh made a major announcement: in January of 2016 Global Solutions Pittsburgh would assume the mantle of The Global Switchboard. GSP thereby agreed to take on management of the co-working space and began a transition plan to solidify its strategic investment in The Global Switchboard as its primary method of achieving the long held goal of building a community in western Pennsylvania dedicated to global engagement.
With the efforts of two leading global organizations behind it, The Global Switchboard is proud to continue the legacy of GSP and see the values of the World Federalist Movement in the work that they do today.