Project Managers Without Borders

by , , , , , , ,
This blog provides project management content and tools for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our objective is to inspire project managers to volunteer and make a positive difference in the world through project management.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Aliki Courmanopoulos
Deanna Landers
Romiya Barry
Marisa Silva
Jeffrey Cox
Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton
Veroni Brussen
Filipe Bergami

Past Contributers:

Chelsa Dornian
Tony Van Krieken
Mario Trentim

Recent Posts

Why Water?

The Art of Asking Questions

Lending Your Expertise When You Have Limited Time

Millennials: Your Best Resources for Project Management in the World of NGOs

The Opportunity in Ambiguity

Why Water?


Project Managers Without Borders (PMWB) is dedicated to educating project management professionals on practices for leveraging their skills and experiences as volunteers with non-profit and non-governmental organizations. With a focus on development projects initiated to improve the communities where they work, PMWB supports other non-profit organizations by matching project managers to their volunteer needs. In the four years of its founding, PMWB has partnered with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and local chapters of Rotary Club International, among other organizations. The work of project managers and their team members has strengthened communications between community leaders and government policymakers through stakeholder engagement. Additionally, their work has helped communities research and implement sustainable solutions to some of their most pressing needs.


PMWB continues to seek ways project managers can support organizations in solving world problems.

What PMWB has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time is extraordinary. From 2016-17, PMWB—in cooperation with PMI Ghana Chapter--worked with communities in Ghana to tackle lingering floods in the Greater Accra Region Program, which resulted in hundreds of casualties and affected tens of thousands of lives annually. Accra, a coastal region occupying just 1.4 percent of the total land area of Ghana, is the capital city of Ghana and home to approximately 4,000,000 inhabitants. This ambitious program included research, analysis, and workshops, and culminated in a final master work plan delivered to local community leaders.


On the other side of the world, PMWB sought to tackle a completely different problem – too little water in the community. The Ecuador Maligua Pamba Potable Project was a collaboration with EWB to support the small, rural mountainside community of Malingua Pamba in efficiently distributing the limited water they have for farming irrigation. This three-part collaborative program involved designing and implementing a potable water system, improving the irrigation water supply, and creating erosion control and sanitation measures. This was no easy task for a village located 10,000 feet in elevation in the Ecuadorean Andes. 


Most recently, PMWB has partnered with Rotary Club of Centennial Colorado on the WaterRico Project. The team is working with the community in Moca, a small town in Puerto Rico that is in need of clean water after the devastation of resources caused by hurricanes in 2017. The WaterRico project involves the development and implementation of a water filtration system that is more economical, easier to build, and more lightweight than currently available systems. All materials for the project are locally sourced from the island and the blueprint to build the system are provided in English and Spanish for dissemination and utilization in the community. This early phase project has been pilot tested, and the team is well on its way to helping the community of Moca access clean water.


A common theme of PMWB-led projects is water. But, why water?

According to PMWB founder Deanna Landers, the organization was not founded with the sole intent to service water projects. However, in so many cases throughout the years, when PMWB seeks areas where they can make an impact, the topic of water often arises. Even when organizations set out to tackle other problems, such as the lack of a health system infrastructure in a community, the problem of water is uncovered as an unmet basic need. For example, Health Horizons International (HHI), a community-driven non-profit operating in the Dominican Republic, began in 2009 as a way to sustainably improve health in partnership with patients and their families in the community. Early in the development of the organization, it became clear that the health of the community could not be improved through medical services alone. Consistent and ready access to clean water was necessary to support critical health interventions. Through trial and error and many self-taught lessons, the leaders of HHI embarked on a water project to extend a water line into their partner community. In reflection, the project management expertise of PMWB volunteers would have helped the leaders to better plan, prepare, and manage the delivery of their water project as well as improve the impact to the community. 


Communities all over the globe are suffering from too much water, insufficient water, or poor quality water.

This fact that has led the country leaders of the United Nations to designate equitable access to clean water and sanitation as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6. The experiences of HHI and PMWB reiterate the interrelatedness of the 17 global health and economic targets set by the United Nations. Through educating project managers and matching them to development projects aimed at improving global communities, PMWB is contributing—in a small part—to the achievement of the SDGs.


The work done by PMWB water projects volunteers may be a drop in the bucket, but the impact may be life changing.




Romiya Barry is a clinical research professional using the project management framework to improve the way we support patients, their health, and their communities.  She is part of the Blog Author team for Project Managers Without Borders and is President and Chair of the Board of Directors for Health Horizons International, a healthcare NGO serving communities in the Dominican Republic. Connect with her on LinkedIN and Twitter.  

Posted by Romiya Barry on: March 21, 2019 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Finding Your First Volunteer Assignment

Categories: NGOs, Nonprofit, Volunteering

Why volunteer? We live in a time of increased global demand for humanitarian action. As the demand grows, so does the complexity of the need. NGOs and other organizations may be strained to find resources with the talent and expertise to navigate the technical and logistical challenges of delivering impactful solutions. “Key to making operations work better is getting the right people on the ground with the right skills and experience, at all levels ” (Valerie Amos, May 13, 2011, The Guardian). The knowledge and skills developed as project management professionals can help transform ideas to outcomes. 

You have an opportunity to integrate your personal beliefs and professional experiences and drive towards a positive impact in our world. From the construction of a green-space in a high-risk community, to establishing volunteer shelters in a natural disaster, to planning a major fundraising initiative for a healthcare NGO, the capacity to execute is invaluable. 

So, how do you find an organization whose mission aligns with your personal values?

  • Start local. Community postings and regional events are easily accessible resources for finding organizations to support right in your backyard. 
  • Explore your personal network.  Let your friends, family, and neighbors know that you are looking for causes to support. Join in their activities and explore if there are ways to contribute on a higher level.
  • Connect with your alma mater. Many schools and universities are active members of their local community as well as major contributors to international communities. Often, the alumni network is vast and well connected to humanitarian initiatives around the world.
  • Ask your employer. Let your employer know that you are looking for ways to leverage your skills outside of the office. Inquire if there are any causes that your organization supports and ask if there is a way you can get involved.


So many organizations need help! Why should I make this commitment?” At this point, you may find the number of organizations where you can get involved to be overwhelming, and you may wonder why you should continue to pursue your first assignment. To put it simply: “To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world's work ...because of the joy of service thereby bestowed and the talent of leadership multiplied” (Alpha Gamma Delta, The Purpose). Beyond making you feel good about giving back, volunteering can help you refine your leadership skills as you seek ways to overcome unique logistical and cultural challenges in your assignment. Through volunteer work, you can acquire skills not available in your current professional role. It's an impactful way to learn how to drive innovation, motivate accountability, and mobilize teams through unusual and enterprising efforts. 

Get invigorated by your work! Use your knowledge and passion for project management to make meaningful change to the way we approach the world’s work. 

Posted by Romiya Barry on: July 11, 2016 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

"It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it."

- Steven Wright