Irina Adăscăliței's journey at CONCORDIA started in 2013 when she was offered the position of International HR and Organisational Development Manager with a clear mission to transform the organisation from a traditional to a professional non-profit with specific fundraising processes and goals. Although she had no experience in the social sector up to that point, apart from her involvement in social projects during her university studies, Irina saw this new task as an important challenge for her. Irina herself is a psychologist who specialised in organisational psychology and trauma, coaching, organisational development and management.
She made the final decision to join the CONCORDIA team after her first visit to our facilities. And this took her to Moldova. She remembers spending three days in Moldova that were to change her perspective on things forever. She felt that until then she had been living in a bubble. And she realised that nothing she had done so far would bring real change.
During her first 2 years, Irina got to know the organisation better and better. She visited all the projects in the national offices and saw a reality she had not known about before. She met many social workers who stood out for their commitment and dedication to their work with vulnerable people, but who did not have access to support and tools for psycho-emotional regulation.
As a human resources development expert, Irina had the idea that CONCORDIA staff who did not work directly with the children and young people in their care should spend a few days in the organisation's projects. The purpose was so that they would not forget who they were actually working for. Irina herself also worked with the children who lived without parents at CONCORDIA in Ploieşti. She was deeply impressed by these children. They wrote holiday cards to their mothers with so much love and hope. Yet their mothers were the ones who had promised to visit but never came. She was equally impressed by the foster parents who had become the mothers of these children - they actually called her "Mummy".
She left the place that day tormented by questions that would not leave her alone for a long time: How do these women manage these emotions and responsibilities day after day? What happens to them when they see such children every day?
Irina recognised the gap in the system - an organisation that provides support for professionals in the social environment. Not only for the continuous training and support of CONCORDIA staff, but also for employees in the public sector and NGOs throughout Romania. The foundation stone for the ONCORDIA Academia was thus laid.
Academia opens its doors
In 2017, the Academia began offering its first training programmes. A short time later, Irina put together her core team. Until the beginning of 2020, Academia offered face-to-face programmes and workshops. Then the pandemic brought new obstacles, but Irina and her team recognised the opportunities behind this challenging moment. Academia's activities were moved online, and the content and methods were adapted. In the meantime, the programmes are offered in an increasingly hybrid way.
Irina describes the secret of Academia's success like this: "Our entire team is exceptional, made up of highly educated people who work quickly and achieve impressive results. Moreover, everyone strongly believes in the values of CONCORDIA Academia and is convinced of the need for our programmes."
In addition to developing the organisation, Irina invested much of her expertise in personal and organisational development to create a strong organisational culture. Freedom of movement, initiative and participatory leadership are integral parts of Academia.
Irina's journey at CONCORDIA has been one of personal growth for her, in addition to professional achievements. During her 10-year experience at CONCORDIA and Academia, Irina gained some important lessons that help her every day to follow the right path, to remember her mission and her role.
The first lesson Irina learned was at the very beginning at CONCORDIA. During her visit to Moldova, she was overwhelmed by her emotions. She quickly realised where her personal limits were and that she would not be able to manage to work directly with the children and families and be confronted with the suffering and endless poverty on a daily basis. Instead, she focused on what she could do to improve the situation for the whole community - and to focus her energy and passion there.
Respect and kindness are key for Irina to connect with people, no matter how unimaginable or frightening the conditions they live in.
Most impressive to Irina, however, are the social workers, educators, etc. who are willing to move mountains to support those who are most vulnerable.