Highlights from the 2017 American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit in New York City.
We live in a fast-paced and dynamic environment where many aspects of the world are rapidly changing. In times of significant cultural and political change, social purpose leaders are faced with even more complex problems to solve. Leadership and skills development is perhaps more important than ever.
On April 3 and 4, 2017, the third annual American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit brought 51 global social purpose leaders together to New York City for just this sort of professional development. During two intensive days, these emerging leaders learned skills, shared ideas and strengthened vital networks and connections. The participants hailed from nine countries across four continents, and represented the 11 partners that make up the American Express Leadership Academy.
This year’s Summit, convened in partnership with Atlas Corps, kicked off with a livestream of an insightful and lively conversation between Cheryl L. Dorsey, pioneering social entrepreneur and President of Echoing Green, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Cody Switzer. The theme for the discussion was intrapreneurship and “How to inspire leadership from within?” Cheryl reflected on how to be a strong nonprofit leader by sharing her personal experiences as well as Echoing Green lessons. The discussion included both virtual and in-person participants. (You can watch the full conversation in this video.)
The momentum of the first day continued with one of the biggest highlights of the summit: a workshop on Digital Storytelling by Jared Weiss, Founder of Overture.me. The session was interactive and engaging, and taught delegates how to explain who they are, what they believe and stand for, and what they are most passionate about—and craft four-sentence “personal mission statements.”
The second day started on a high note with an address by Michael O’Neill, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications with American Express. Next up was a mindfulness session, followed by a peer coaching skills training workshop. After the training, participants were then matched into teams of four for in-depth peer coaching. Each person was able to dig deeply into a specific leadership challenge they were facing, and receive feedback, advice and insights from fellow leaders acting as coaches.
Personally, it was a great experience for me to see how the power of collaboration can be used to solve challenging problems. There is so much power in diversity and sharing of knowledge and insights. One of the main goals for the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Network is to foster collaboration, engagement and continual leadership development of the 1,600 leaders currently involved. Watching these diverse, inspiring leaders share their lessons, challenges and motivation was moving and energizing for me. I left the two-day Summit feeling certain that together, we will succeed in driving improvements in our communities around the globe.
And in these times of change, the work that we do individually and together is more critical than ever.
Here are some quotes and reactions from some of the participants:
“The Peer Coaching was very beneficial to the overall Summit experience. It was a great opportunity to get feedback and gain accountability partners moving forward.” -Tiana McFarlane
"My most valuable takeaway from the summit would be the relationships I built with other attendees.
It was great connecting with other Leadership Academy alums from other partner organizations.
Additionally, I thought the summit did a great job at bringing together a diverse set
of attendees that added unique perspectives to the conversations in the room.” -Jessica Santana
"All the workshops and the peer coaching were extremely helpful. I learned solid skills I can take back.” -Trina Talukdar