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In the fall of 2006, Omni Med board member Kathryn Johnson had a radical idea. What if Omni Med’s core

mission of enhancing understanding and inspiring direct action among health volunteers could be expanded to

the entire service sector? Over the next year, Ms Johnson, colleague Leland Russell of GeoGroup, and Omni

Med’s Dr O'Neil developed the Center for Global Service, which seeks to bring better coordination, technology,

and interactivity to the broader service space. In subsequent convening meetings held in Washington, D.C.,

San Francisco and New York, over 140 people from the service sector, academia, and the business community reviewed the CGS concepts, sharpening the focus and improving the model. Over 400 people have contributed via on-line fora. Omni Med’s Database of Global Health Service Opportunities is a key component of CGS and is now up on-line elsewhere on this site, open to all. 


Best thought of as a “next generation knowledge network,” CGS seeks to build a state of the art resource center that will greatly improve connections and capacity among international volunteers, optimizing their global impact. Underlying this idea are three basic assumptions: 

  • That global volunteerism, if reconfigured, has the power to be a world changing force. 

  • That global consciousness and unprecedented collaboration are essential in every sector, including international service. 

  • That through intelligent collaboration, accessing the latest “digital age” technologies, sharing best practices and tapping into the collective wisdom of global volunteers we can dramatically increase their effectiveness. As a result, we can empower global citizens to become agents of change. 

A wide range of established organizations are dedicated to global service and volunteering, deploying tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the world in ever increasing numbers. The work of these organizations and volunteers is unquestionably valuable and important in a world still characterized by extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition, inadequate basic health, and shortages of water, food, housing and education. We know that solutions from microfinance to bio agriculture, to direct clinical care are yielding results. Yet these efforts among volunteer sectors are rarely leveraged. We propose to move Global Volunteerism from today’s highly fragmented and disconnected model into a “Next Generation “Knowledge Network,” called CGS.


The Center concept represents a paradigm shift in the way NGO's and other international agencies currently do business. It is “disruptive social innovation for change,” offering an opportunity for NGO'S of all varieties (e.g. health, food, security, water, housing, humanitarian and emergency aid, agriculture, education, etc.) to make a transition to an “open source” model. Collaborating organizations from the entire spectrum of NGO's and agencies will contribute to and take from the Center ideas, systems, procedures, shared data bases, leading practices, proven solutions, all with the goal of reducing duplication and creating synergy. The goal is not to supplant existing organizations, but to make them more effective. The design of the CGS is both a bottom up and top down, or what is called a “PRO/AM,” professionals and amateurs working together as authors of user-generated information and data, e.g. a Wikipedia model. As a result, both volunteers and local leaders function as co participants in the social change process. Nothing like it exists, yet the need is overwhelming. Please see out pdf summary below for further details, or contact Ms Kathryn Johnson at kej1@comcast.net or Dr Ed O’Neil at ejoneil@omnimed.org to learn more or get involved.

The following documents, developed by board member Kathryn Johnson and a special task force of Stanford Business School Alumni involved in the project, outline the conceptual framework of CGS.  We hope that the concepts and principles developed for  this project will be used by organizations and individuals looking for a way to become more effective in their service efforts:

Explore our database for global health opportunities here.