The Origin and Founders of CDA

CDA Collaborative Learning Projects (which most people refer to simply as “CDA”) is a non-profit created in 2003. CDA’s work builds on the work of the “Collaborative for Development Action, Inc.”, which existed as a small consulting agency (founded by Mary B. Anderson, the founder of the Do No Harm approach) between 1985 and 2003. As CDA, Inc. increasingly raised its funds from government donors, it became clear that a non-profit entity would provide a better base for its work.  This led to the creation of CDA as it exists today.

Current Structure and The Foundational Collaborative Learning Programs
Since January 2015 CDA has been operating under a staff structure including an Advisory Services “wing” and a Collaborative Learning Projects “wing.” Previously, CDA worked through four discrete programs: The Do No Harm Program (DNH), the Reflecting on Peace Practice Program (RPP), the Corporate Engagement Program (CEP), and the Listening Program (LP). Each program conducted its own collaborative learning processes and also engaged in accompaniment and advisory work in partnership with local and international NGOs, private sector companies, donors, bilateral agencies, and multilateral institutions. The change from programs to wings enabled CDA to take a more deliberate and focused approach to both collaborative learning and implementation of learning through advisory services.

Mary B. Anderson
Mary B. Anderson led CDA from its founding in 2003, until her retirement in 2009. An economist, Anderson has specialized in rural development strategies that build on local capacities; gender analysis in development programming; the relationships between emergency relief assistance and long-term development; and educational policies as these affect access to primary education in developing countries. Anderson has written extensively on the subjects described above, and taught students as well as practitioners.

Select Bibliography

Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict (2012, with Marshall Wallace)

Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid (2012, with Dayna Brown and Isabella Jean)

Getting It Right: Making Corporate-Community Relations Work (2005, with Luc Zandvliet)

Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners (2003, with Lara Olson)

Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace—or War (1999)

Rising from the Ashes: Development Strategies in Times of Disaster (1989, with Peter Woodrow)

Gender Roles in Development Projects: A Case Book (1985, with Catherine Overholt)