Welcome to Warsaw: Women Entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Europe
Zoe Dean Smith, Senior Director, Global Programs
Today we kick off our ninth Global Ambassadors Program mentoring forum in Warsaw, Poland, a week-long program designed to provide women business leaders and social entrepreneurs from Central and Eastern Europe with tailored skills and strategies needed to advance business and organizational growth.
Eight mentees representing Poland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine will pair off with eight Global Ambassadors from the United States, Poland and Russia who will serve as mentors and trainers in communications, strategic planning, leadership and business development — critical skills needed to contribute to prosperous and stable economies in developing democracies.
We’ll also connect participants with our local Vital Voices Poland chapter, a strong network of women business owners and professionals, through informal networking opportunities and at a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull.
A roster of talented trainers are with us in Warsaw, including a social media and personal branding expert from Guatemala, a strategic planner from Canada and a storytelling and public speaking trainer from Brooklyn, USA.
Our mentors include an exceptional group of global women leaders from Poland, Russia and the U.S. who bring a very broad spectrum of expertise to this gathering ranging from international journalism and media management to executive business consulting and working with multinational corporations. Mentees will return home armed with new knowledge, skills and abilities to navigate uncertain economic and political terrain as they position themselves for new growth and deeper impact in their communities.
One of the things that I love most about the Global Ambassadors Program is that it has proved time after time to be a tremendously powerful accelerator of women’s leadership and economic empowerment.
It is a true privilege to witness the beginning of this series of long-term, one-to-one mentoring relationships where women, who are taking their small-and medium-sized businesses and social enterprises to scale, are able to really embrace and absorb this unique opportunity to spend a full working week with a group of established global female leaders. These leaders have experienced similar challenges along their steep career trajectories and can share insights, lessons learned and important connections as they work alongside their mentees and guide them as they navigate their way through this tipping point in their respective professional journeys.
Many of our past mentees have said that participating in the Global Ambassadors Program has been an opportunity of a lifetime. At the beginning of the week, they often ask, “Why did you pick me?” and “How did you match me with my mentor?” By the end of that week, it has been transformative for both mentees and mentors. When they part company, it is with hearts filled with gratitude, minds illuminated respect for cultures which differ from their own, much eagerness to get home to implement the new ideas discussed and, of course, many new, deep friendships and sisterhoods established.
We’ll be blogging from Warsaw and posting photo galleries each day — follow along and be sure to tweet questions to @VitalVoices and @BofA_News using the hashtag #GlobalAmbassadors. You’ll hear from mentors and mentees directly about what they hope to learn as part of the Global Ambassadors Program. Stay tuned!
Meet the participants:
Lorna R. Sabbia
Watch the program’s YouTube playlist.