The inspiring path of Irina Adăscăliței to CONCORDIA Academia: from the transformation of an organization to the creation of a training center for social professionals.

Irina Adăscăliței’s journey at CONCORDIA started in 2013 when she was offered the position of International HR and Organizational Development Manager with a clear mission to transform the organization 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 is a psychologist specializing in organizational psychology and trauma, coaching, organizational 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 realized that nothing she had done so far would bring real change.

“After returning from Moldova, I joined the CONCORDIA team, first as International HR Director. A few years later, I became a member of the Board of Directors. In this position, I was made aware of the real needs and given the opportunity to lay the foundations of Academia as it is today – a regional training center that trains and supports professionals working in the social, socio-educational, and socio-medical fields.”

The Emergence of Academia

During her first 2 years, Irina got to know the organization 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 did not have access to support and tools for psycho-emotional regulation.

“Since my beginnings at CONCORDIA, I have been deeply concerned with how people manage to work every day in an environment where they see suffering, alienation, non-acceptance, isolation, segregation, and trauma.”

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 on the organization’s projects. The purpose was so that they would not forget who they were working for. Irina also worked with the children who lived without parents at CONCORDIA in Ploiesti. 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 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?

“I realized how important it is that people working in such environments have professional support tools such as counseling, therapy, supervision, and coaching in safe environments where they can shed the emotional baggage they have picked up while working”.

Irina recognized the gap in the system – an organization 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 programs. A short time later, Irina put together her core team. Until the beginning of 2020, Academia offered face-to-face programs and workshops. Then the pandemic brought new obstacles, but Irina and her team recognized the opportunities behind this challenging moment. Academia’s activities were moved online, and the content and methods were adapted. In the meantime, the programs 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 programs.”

In addition to developing the organization, Irina invested much of her personal and organizational development expertise to create a strong organizational culture. Freedom of movement, initiative, and participatory leadership are integral parts of Academia.

Irina’s personal development

Irina’s journey at CONCORDIA has been one of personal growth for her and professional achievements. During her 10-year experience at CONCORDIA and Academia, Irina gained some important lessons that help her daily to follow the right path and remember her mission and 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 realized 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 suffering and endless poverty daily. 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.

Article written by CONCORDIA Social Projects