7 December 2004 The first meeting of World ORTs new International Next Generation network has taken place in Paris, generating excitement among participants and concrete initiatives including annual missions and a website for the future. The coming together in Paris of 14 lay leaders from Canada, the USA, Great Britain, France, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and South Africa, is the direct result of a resolution passed at the World ORT General Assembly in May 2004. Following the weekend meeting, which was packed with leadership training, briefings, social activities and a tour of ORT Villiers-le-Bel School, World ORT Director General Robert Singer said its success augured well for the future of the organisation. The International Next Generation network is one of the most important initiatives to have come from World ORTs lay leadership. Continued success in this venture will ensure a chain of leadership that will take ORT into its next 125 years, Mr Singer said. Next Generation and New Leadership sub-committee co-chairs Mark Mishon and Shelley Fagel chaired the meeting at The Rochester Champs Elysees Hotel. Mr Mishon and Ms Fagel veteran lay leaders in British ORT and Womens American ORT respectively will provide a strategic overview to the new group. Its been an invigorating weekend, said Ms Fagel. Its amazing how everyone truly connected. ORT Montreal board member Fanny Korman, a qualified Human Performance Improvement consultant, conducted a bonding exercise on Saturday evening following a welcome by Ms Fagel and Mr Mishon, and a general briefing by ORT France National Director Marc Timsit. Over the course of the next day-and-a-half briefings were also given by the Israeli Ambassador to France, Nisim Zvily, who has two brothers teaching at ORT schools in Israel, World ORT Deputy President Professor Jean de Gunzburg, whose great-great-uncle was a co-founder of ORT in 1880, Professor Michel Rudnianski, Chairman of the World ORT Academic Advisory Council, and World ORT Director General Robert Singer. A session was also devoted to participants, who ranged in age from 23 to 52, sharing their own experiences of working for their respective ORT national organisations. This knowledge sharing is a critical part of the International Next Generation initiative, allowing participants from national organisations with less developed Next Generation and Young Leadership programmes to take away ideas for implementation in their own countries. The group decided to set up their own webpage on the World ORT website and a newsletter, provisionally named ORTograph. Work is underway on an action plan setting out the groups goals and how they will be met; initiatives such as annual missions, involvement in ORT International Cooperation programmes, and developing leadership training seminars are among the items being worked out. The action plan will be presented to the World ORT Board of Directors meeting in Israel at the end of January. Its been a marvellous experience, said Mr Mishon. A group of people who initially didnt know each other and who had a limited knowledge of ORT have formed strong relationships and been informed and updated on ORTs present activities and future directions. But most importantly, the participants have been involved in this from the beginning. They have taken ownership of the International Next Generation network and they will take it forward.