New Director Membership & Programs

Meet Jan Van Hove, director of membership and programs for Europe 

Jan Van Hove (40), Belgian and Ghent citizen, is the successor of Ruth Gabler, who did an excellent job in the Member Service Center of Kiwanis in Ghent.  Ruth went back to Austria, to practice her first passion, fund raising. We wish her a successful further career and a happy life in Vienna.
Jan started on 1th of October as the new director of Membership and Programs for the area Europe.  

We asked Jan to share which experience he can offer to Kiwanis, and to explain a bit his background.  

Welcome to Kiwanis, Jan! 

What attracted you to start working for Kiwanis?  

The first sentence I saw on the website of Kiwanis International, summarize it very well: “make a world of difference”. 
In serving the children of the world, Kiwanis wants to make the difference. That’s a goal that I fully support and that I want to contribute to, to my best.   

You have been recruited for this position based on your previous working experiences. What exactly did you do before working at Kiwanis?  

I started my career as national training coordinator of a Belgian youth organization with 150,000 members and 20,000 leaders.  Aside from being end-responsible for the animators, head animators in charge of the different teams, the trainers and the department managers, I was also in charge of  European projects. Together with 12 organisations in other European countries with similar goals, we founded a European Umbrella organisation that I coordinated.  

After 8 years of lots of travels, I went back to my home city Ghent, were I became for 8 years Executive Director of the Service for Community Interpreting and Translations. In a city with 81 nationalities, with 25 staff and around 150 interpreters and translators, we provided language assistance in hospitals, schools, welfare organisations…  After a merge with 3 other organizations, I became a director in the Public Agency for Migration and Integration in Ghent.  

Meanwhile, I had started also my own business as freelance European trainer and facilitator of international conferences, training courses and seminars. I covered a range of topics such as intercultural learning, train de trainers, international project management, volunteer management, organizational management, etc.  

I worked also as expert for European Voluntary Service (EVS), a programme of the European Commission for stimulating young people to active citizenship by volunteering abroad for some months. We assessed and coached civil society organisations in Europe, in order to award them with an accreditation so that they can participate in this EVS programme.  

Besides European trainer and EVS accreditor, I have been working as grant expert for the European Commission’s programme for Education, Training, Youth & Sports, assessing grant proposals for international capacity building projects, youth mobility projects, strategic partnerships and cross-sectoral cooperation projects between universities, youth organisations, vocational training institutes,…   

How will you apply these experiences in Kiwanis in Europe ?  

Having these experiences,  I’m confident that Kiwanians will appreciate some expertise that I can offer to support leaders in the growth of Kiwanis. I’m very enthusiastic to support the members and the leaders in making the organisation bigger and stronger, so that Kiwanis can have more impact in reaching its main goal, Serving Children of the World.   

There is some work to be done on growth and membership retainment. How do you see this?  

Quantity (growth in terms of new members and new clubs) and quality (member retention, sustainable clubs, and the feeling of ownership) always go hand in hand, and I’m counting on a strong cooperation with all the leaders, to build further to a qualitative growth of Kiwanis International.  

Active participation in Kiwanis means for me that each member feels connected to Kiwanis, is challenged by the goals, and takes responsibility by taking concrete actions. I’m looking forward to supporting and motivating leaders to lead by example. 

Besides your work for Kiwanis, what do you do to relax after work?  

In my free time, I like to play trumpet, and I’m a passionate scuba diver. A good friend shared with me that it’s my “mental toothbrushing activity” after hard work. I love that expression! 

I just discovered that President-elect Daniel Vigneron is also an experienced scuba diver, and we have been diving at the same dive locations in Port de la Selva in Spain and at the East Scheldt Sea delta in the Netherlands. The world is small! 

Thank you Jan, and we wish you all the best with your new position in Kiwanis!