Alumni Reflect on their WILD Leadership Journeys
In May 2021, the Women Innovators & Leaders (WILD) Network hosted their 2021 Women in Global Development Leadership (WILD) Virtual Forum with this year’s theme being “Journey to Bold and Inclusive Leadership.” As the world’s first and largest forum designed to advance women’s leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion through interactive content from leading leadership and organizational development experts, and global development leaders, the three-day forum highlighted the importance of leadership in the current era.
As a part of its ongoing opportunities for Alumni, the Mandela Washington Fellowship sponsored 15 Fellowship Alumni to attend the forum to deepen their individual leadership knowledge. Alumni had access to 40 hours of live programming, more than 90 speakers from around the globe, 50 interactive sessions, and were eligible to apply for six months of one-on-one pro-bono leadership coaching in partnership with EthicalCoach. Selected participants receive individual coaching to help them on their journeys of leadership development.
The Fellowship Alumni who attended recently reflected on their experiences of participation in a global virtual leadership conference, sharing notable takeaways, networking experiences, and how they planned to implement new ideas and gain knowledge from the conference within their sectors. Meet four of these young African leaders below while learning more about their experiences at the 2021 virtual WILD Forum.
Leadership is too complex to be left in the hands of one person, one gender, one religion, one homogeneous group, it is about teams, inclusive teams.”Lydia Munika, 2014 Fellowship Alumna, Kenya
Samantha Sibanda, a 2019 Fellowship Alumna from Zimbabwe who founded Signs of Hope Trust, Zimbabwe, an organization that advocates for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, attended the forum and served as a speaker. On Day 2 of the forum, Samantha presented on “Disability and Inclusion: Every Leader’s Responsibility.” In her experience as a speaker, she learned how “to address a very diverse audience and versatility to test”, further noting that “the opportunity to speak at the WILD Forum was life-changing.”
Juanitill Pettus, a 2016 Fellowship Alumna from South Africa and facilitator, coach, mentor, and strategist, is dedicated to promoting global equality. She found that the WILD Forum raised “critical points and practical things organizations can do to create a more inclusive world.” Juanitill also felt that the forum was relevant to her work in program design, and she has since committed to ensuring that she “always include[s] the voice of participants in the design process.” Juanitill maintains how “incredibly important [it is] that we keep creating platforms for diverse groups of people to come together to tackle the problems we are facing as a global community.”
Nicolau Londe Gomes Miguel, a 2019 Fellowship Alumnus from Angola, and sociopolitical and educational consultant at InnoVision Concepts GmbH, shared that he plans to apply his newfound knowledge to his organization’s events related to women’s participation. Nicolau is committed to empowering and leading young people and hopes to change how he works based on the lessons imparted from the team leadership workshops. He highly recommends the WILD Forum to future Fellowship Alumni “based on the concept of the events [and] the role women play [in] peace and development on our societies.” Overall, he gained more knowledge on the collective efforts of women in decision-making positions raising their voice for women’s participation as changemakers.
Lydia Munika, a 2014 Fellowship Alumna from Kenya who is a youth leader and entrepreneur, was one of the attendees selected to receive six months of pro bono leadership coaching. Their current cohort consists of 55 participants, including Lydia, from over 20 countries and 37 coaches donating their time to this program. Lydia is most looking forward to “gaining new tools and strategies valuable for my work.” Overall, she found the WILD Forum helpful in “strengthening and expanding my professional network, balancing working remotely, physically understanding impact over intent and having a clear north-star metric.” Lydia also credits the forum for helping her redefine leadership: “Leadership is too complex to be left in the hands of one person, one gender, one religion, one homogeneous group, it is about teams, inclusive teams.”
It’s within … diversity that we find innovative and inclusive solutions.”Juanitill Pettus, 2016 Fellowship Alumna, South Africa
In closing, Juanitill noted that “It’s within this diversity that we find innovative and inclusive solutions.” Fellowship Alumni found the masterclasses and workshops insightful, were inspired by the speakers and panels, and enjoyed the breakout sessions and opportunities to network. As a professional development experience, The WILD Forum enhanced Fellowship Alumni’s knowledge to increase their leadership skills, provided them with the tools to strengthen company culture, grow their networks and connect with experts and peers in international development.
Written by Andree’ Omoregbee.
From Across Sub-Saharan Africa