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Domingos Armani

Find out more about Domingos’ path

A path laid inside me

I like to think of my path as versatile and multifaceted. After all, I have been in so many places, played different roles and experienced situations and contexts nurturing and inspiring me to these days.

I was born in Bento Gonçalves, in 1957. It is a small town placed in a hilly region in the South of Brazil known as Serra Gaúcha which might explain why I am fond of high altitudes and great wine! In 1963, I moved with my family to Porto Alegre and I stayed in the city until 1978. After that, I lived for two years in Canoas, in the Greater Porto Alegre. While there, I took part in a small group of idealistic young people involved in the work of pastorals groups and Christian Base Communities (CEB). We used to assist poor people living on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. We were young and idealistic, and we wanted to change the world. Typical! It was a great experience that helped to strengthen my belief and faith in social change, and to build my values and principles on solidarity, empathy, dignity, and human rights.

My first degree was in geology. From 1976 to 1980, all I could think about were rocks, mountains, and minerals. It was a field from which I draw significant metaphors to these days. But I soon realized that nature and ‘rock outcrops’ were not enough to pave my career path. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Brazil was reaching the end of the dictatorship pushed by increasing social upheavals across the country. The call for transformation was shared by an entire generation, including myself. At home, I saw my parents increasingly committed to religious and social activism. It was not about the Liberation Theology, yet it was a very inspiring example. Meanwhile, my older brother who was studying theology influenced and gave me books on philosophy, including by Karl Marx. How could I be the same after that?!

In the early 1980s, I enrolled in a sociology course at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the magic happened. I found my true self. But I can reassure you, it had nothing to do with the weed “growing” on the campus! I enjoyed the classes’ contents and fiery debates because they inspired me to ask unpleasant, yet necessary questions as I looked deeper into the complex social web in a more structured way. On top of it, the crowd at the university was so interesting…

But I was in a such a hurry! I had not finished my degree in sociology and there I was enrolling in a Masters’ degree in Political Science (1986-1991). I bet you can guess my thesis topic of over 400 pages printed on a typewriter. It was about non-governmental organizations (NGOs), even though they were known as centres for education and popular promotion. And who was my inspiration? One of the most popular political scientists read and discussed at the time: Gramsci!

Studying Political Science helped me to improve an understanding of political scenarios shaped by conflict. Today we call it a dispute of narratives and it has become the potential central point of political discourse in public spaces.

It took me almost six years to finish the Masters’ degree. Studying, researching, and writing a dissertation over those turbulent years was quite a challenge. In 1983, I helped to create a Multi-professional Advisory Center called CAMP. Today we would see it as NGO. It was a long and rich journey until I left in 1991, going from a volunteer to a member of the advisory team, and for four years taking the leadership as the Executive Secretary.

In the early 1990s, a British development agency, Christian Aid, hired me to assume the post of Program Officer for three countries: Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile. I moved to London and lived there until 1997. It was a fantastic experience, in personal and professional terms. I had the chance to study the typical contradictions and features of Brazilian culture compared to other Latin America and European countries. In fact, it was a great teaching lesson on how to appreciate our unique qualities but also our worst conditions.

When I returned to Brazil, I worked in Porto Alegre as an independent consultant specialized in social and institutional development. Since then, I have engaged with a variety of themes in civil society, such as community organizations/groups and social movements; ecclesial, pastoral, and ecumenical bodies; NGOs and civil society organizations/networks; institutes and foundations; and agencies and international foundations. In this journey, I have met so many wonderful people.

In 25 working years as a consultant, I have mainly dealt with institutional evaluations, strategic planning, resource mobilization and sustainability, governance systems, organizational and management models, elaboration and management of social projects, facilitation of seminars and workshops, courses, and lectures, besides systematization and knowledge production.

I focused my approach on institutional development. I perceive it as a sensitive, systemic, complex, and dynamic view on processes about change and stability in civil society organizations.  

My publications can be read and downloaded in the Publications section of the site.

Finally, I am proud to say that my career path has included all the stages in the life of an NGO. From volunteer work, I turned a leader and a representative of international funding agencies. The journey has led me to be an experienced consultant with plenty of know-how, always ready to be daring challenging my perception on complex issues, and believing dialogue is the only way out in everything I do.

 Yet, there is so much to do.

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