We are living in a very fast-paced and dynamic environment where many aspects of the world are changing rapidly. In times of many social and political changes, social purpose leaders are faced with even more complex social problems to solve. Continual leadership and skills development have become even more important and a requirement for social sector leaders.

The Third American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit, which was held on April 3 and 4, 2017, brought 51 global social purpose leaders together to New York City for continued professional development and the building of vital networks and connections. The participants had leaders from 4 different continents all representing the 11 academy partners that make up the American Express Leadership Academy.

This year’s Summit, which is convened in partnership with Atlas Corps, kicked off with a special Livestream event of a very 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; “How to inspire leadership from within?” Cheryl gave her insights on how to be a strong leader in the nonprofit sector by sharing her personal as well as Echoing Green lessons. The discussion included virtual participants along with the in-person participants and explored the power of intrapreneurship within our own organisations. The full conversation can be watched at http://leaderstories.org/alumni-summit-2017 

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 very interactive, engaging and taught delegates how to be able to tell who they are, what they believe and stand for as well as what they are most passionate about. Delegates continued networking and building relationships at a dinner and reception to close Day 1.

The second day also started on a high note with an address by Michael O’Neill, The Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications. Mindfulness and Peer Coaching Skills training sessions followed as delegates gained deeper insights from trained facilitators. Delegates then had the opportunity to practice peer coaching by being matched into teams of four. It was an amazing opportunity for the leaders to share challenges they were facing in their leadership journeys with fellow leaders who then provided timely feedback, advice and insights on how to solve these challenges to be better leaders.

Personally, it was such 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. This benefit is one of the main goals for the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Network, To foster collaboration, engagement and continual leadership development of the 1,600 leaders that are currently part of the network from over 9 countries.

Here are some quotes and reactions from some of the delegates:

“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

By Anesu Dunbar Masube

Alumni Lead

American Express Leadership Academy