CIF is a non-profit, voluntary incorporated association and goes back to the initiative of Dr. Henry B. Ollendorff (1907-1979), an emigré German lawyer, who then trained in the USA as a social worker. Under the re-education program of the US government, he returned to Germany to give courses for youth leaders and social workers. There he created his idea of an exchange program, the Cleveland International Program (CIP), which since 1956 has attracted thousands of participants from the whole world. The alumni organisation, named Council of International Fellowship (CIF), was founded in 1960 by former participants of CIP.

CIF International is the umbrella organization, whose members form national branches in over 30 countries on six continents. Of these, more than 20 organize International Professional Exchange Programs (PEP). Over 1000 members are active and contribute much to the programs. CIF International organizes biennially an international conference, hosted and co-organized by one of the national branches.

CIF Switzerland was founded in 1980 by two dozen alumni of CIP. Six of them are still involved. Since 2009 CIF Switzerland has organized exchange programs and is the contact point for Swiss professionals who would like to participate in a program abroad.

CIF Switzerland – Who we are

CIF Switzerland has more than a dozen members, who themselves have participated in one or more programs or intend to do so.

Executive Committee 2020 – 2022

Elisabeth Fischbacher Schrobiltgen

Rita Gehrig 

Martina Valentin

Ursula Keller

Sabine Zünd


Support for CIF Switzerland

There are many ways you can support CIF Switzerland. There are no preconditions such as age, special knowledge or previous participation in one of the exchange programs. Here are some ways to get involved.

As a member

We always appreciate people interested in supporting our activities. Currently we need support

  • to promote exchange programs abroad with Swiss social workers and professionals in closely related fields,
  • to organize the exchange program (search for organizations, accompany participants and so on)
  • to assist in fundraising activities
As a host family

Host families agree to have a guest from another country out of a sense of openness, curiosity, and friendship. For about two weeks they provide a participant with a unique cultural experience. Also the host family benefits from this exchange: they discover the world from their own home. They gain a temporary family member who enriches understanding and tolerance of diversities, and lasting cross-cultural friendships may develop.

To be a host family, you might be married or single, with or without children. More important is an interest in another culture and a readiness to welcome a person in Switzerland, to let him or her participate in family life, and to open them to your way of life – and of course a good command of English.

As a speaker or host agency

Your special knowledge and/or insights into your agency are very important to participants. Experience shows that the exchange is fruitful for CIF participants, but also for our professionals, who are stimulated to describe their daily practice, to explain the values behind it, and to discuss methods in social work and related fields. Interested?


We conduct the Swiss program, support the recruitment and selection of Swiss participants, co-operate with CIF International and other national branches regarding the general development of the organization. We would also like to be able to assist professionals who cannot afford to fund such participation out of their own pockets - comparatively high expenses for people from some countries.

Our members, host families, speakers, and agencies work on a volunteer basis. Participants from abroad pay their own travel expenses to get to Switzerland, and their program participation fee, as well as health insurance and visa costs.

In order to achieve our goals, we value and need support by individuals and public bodies as well as foundations and companies.

CIF Switzerland welcomes very much any donation: Postal account 30-760900-7, 3000 Berne.

Advertising on our website or the international newsletter

You should advertise on our website for your courses, trainings, events, attendances or products! is very well frequented by international and domestic professional and organizations in the social work fields.

Please contact us