CIF International - today


CIF International has a total of 30 national branches across the world. Of these, over 20 usually provide an International Professional Exchange Program.

CIF International and the national branches

  • are private and not for profit, politically and religiously independent organisations,
  • work on a voluntary basis,
  • enable dialogue between professionals around the world,
  • promote the expansion of the variety of methods of intervention and the intercultural competence of individuals, and
  • contribute to greater tolerance and understanding among cultures

Here you get to the homepage of CIF International.




The fact that CIF Switzerland exists today is due to the initiator of the first professional exchange program in social work, Dr Henry B. Ollendorff (1907–1979).

  • He was born in Esslingen (Germany) in 1907 as Heinz Bernhard Ollendorff, earned a doctorate in law and worked as a labour lawyer while living in Esslingen.
  • Under the German National Socialist regime, he was barred from his profession, and emigrated to the United States in 1938.
  • Since he could no longer practise his profession as a lawyer in the USA, he completed a course of studies in social work and upon graduation began working in Cleveland, Ohio.

Council of International Program (CIP)

Based on his personal and professional experience, Henry B. Ollendorff was recruited by the U.S. State Department and returned his native Germany in 1954 to teach a five-month seminar for German youth leaders as part of the “Re-education-programs”. While there, he conceived the idea for an exchange program for social work and youth leaders. In 1956 he founded the “Council of International Programs for Youth Leaders and Social Workers, Inc.”. Over the next two decades of his life, the program brough social workers from more than 70 countries to the Unites States.

  • In 1956, he brought 25 German volunteer youth group leaders and social workers for the first time to Cleveland for an international program (known as Cleveland International Program, CIP).
  • The program goals were to create an atmosphere for international understanding and provide a forum for the international exchange of experiences thus promote peace worldwide. Dr Ollendorff also placed a special emphasis on implementing modern methods of group work.
  • This new program was soon extended to other countries, and was renamed the Council of International Programs (CIP). It still exists today in a similar form under the name CIPUSA.

«My life was spared. I would like to devote the rest of my life to ensuring that nothing like the holocaust ever happens again. People, especially the young, must learn at an early age to respect religious and ethnic differences, and learn how to get along with each other and peacefully coexist(Henry B. Ollendorff, based on the recollections of his wife Martha).

Council of International Fellowship (CIF)

In 1960, former participants of CIP’s programs formed an alumni association in Germany, the Cleveland International Fellowship, which has been a registered association since 1964 (and was later renamed the Council of International Fellowship).

The mission and vision:

  • to continue the sharing of professional and personal knowledge
  • to maintain and foster existing contacts
  • to establish professional networks
  • to encourage other professional colleagues to participate in similar international programs

This has resulted in a global organisation (CIF International) with over 30 national branches and several contact persons (in countries without a national branch), with more than 1000 members working voluntarily, and continuing the intentions of Dr Ollendorff.