Taking Leadership to the Next Level: ILA Arranges Mentors for WE Empower Award Winners

Megan ScribnerMegan Scribner is a program coordinator for the International Leadership Association. She has 30 year's experience as an editor and organizer and is the author of several books, including Leading From Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead. She is excited about this mentorship program and looks forward to interviewing the WE Empower awardees and their mentors.

5 WE Empower Awardees
Awardees (L-R) Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Habiba Ali, Marijana Savic, Marta del Rio Villanueva, and Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawi

Last fall, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, along with Vital Voices, the United Nations Foundation and other partners– including the ILA – announced the winners of the inaugural WE Empower U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Challenge.

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is the first of its kind global business competition for women entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030.

“We received 150 strong applications from women leaders across the globe doing wonderful work to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The applications were truly impressive, and we look forward to supporting and encouraging these women leaders in their commitment to advancing sustainability and engaging their respective communities to create a positive multiplier effect,” said ILA member Amanda Ellis, the originator of the concept and the coordinator of the project. Amanda is also the senior special adviser for international diplomacy, sustainable development, and inclusion at the ASU Wrigley Institute and the former New Zealand Ambassador to the UN (Geneva), Deputy Secretary for International Development, and head of the New Zealand Aid Program.

The five WE Empower Challenge winners are from each of the five UN regions and are advancing the SDGs through their business practices. The program recognizes their innovative work, provides capacity-building training sessions and high-level advocacy opportunities to the awardees, and ignites awareness about the valuable contribution women entrepreneurs can make toward the SDGs. The WE Empower winners are:

  • Habiba Ali, Founder, Managing Director & CEO, Sosai Renewable Energies (Nigeria)
  • Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawi, Founder, The Alchemist Lab (Jordan)
  • Marijana Savic, Founder & Director, NGO Atina and Bagel Bejgl Shop (Serbia)
  • Marta del Rio Villanueva, Founder & CEO, Wasi Organics (Peru)
  • Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Co-Founder & CEO, ECOncrete Tech Ltd. (Israel)

The WE Empower Challenges Awardees were brought to New York City during the week of the UN General Assembly on September 24 – 29 for a series of high-level events, including the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, the We the People Summit, the G5 Collective Dinner, and the Global Citizen Summit. Awardees also participated in a dynamic pitch competition hosted by fashion designer, activist and Vital Voices Board Member, Diane von Furstenberg, to present their business for the opportunity to receive a $20,000 grant. Their time culminated in the award ceremony event and the Women’s Economic Empowerment dialogue hosted by the Council of Women World Leaders with the UN Secretary General, the President of the World Bank, and the new High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“These five women are an inspiration,” remarked Cynthia Cherrey, CEO and President of the ILA, a global network whose mission is to advance leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. “From fighting climate change to empowering young women, from stopping human trafficking to enabling farmers to achieve financial independence, they are transforming our world for the better and demonstrating the untapped potential of enlightened entrepreneurialism to lift people up the world over.”

The ILA was delighted to be approached by Amanda to serve as a thought partner of this effort, along with an impressive list of business and international organizations, including P&G, Unilever, Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, and the United Nations Foundation.

ILA was also pleased to be one of the Supporting Partners, joining the UN Women, Council of Women Leaders, International Trade Centre, and other outstanding organizations in offering additional opportunities and support for these five phenomenal women. ILA gave each of the awardees a free conference registration and the ability to present at one of the ILA's topical, regional, or global conferences in the 2019 or 2020 calendar year.

Inspired by their work in the world, ILA decided to do even more for these remarkable women and arranged to pair each of the awardees with an ILA mentor/coach to work together throughout 2019 and 2020.

Following the award ceremony, Cyn had the opportunity to meet with these five outstanding women to talk about their leadership story, the ILA, and what the ILA would do to support them and their work. She reported that “The leadership mentor/coach gift received the greatest amount of enthusiasm. They were ecstatic about it.”

Marianne Dutkiewicz, Marijana Savic, Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawai, Cyn Cherrey, Marta del Rio Villanueva, Habiba Ali, and Amanda Ellis
Marianne Dutkiewicz, Marijana Savic, Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawai, Cyn Cherrey, Marta del Rio Villanueva, Habiba Ali, and Amanda Ellis

Cyn reached out to top leadership coaches in ILA to take on this role and then virtually connected them with their mentees. The ILA mentors are equally excited about the opportunity of working with these remarkable entrepreneurs, helping them to expand and enhance their leadership and the impact of their work. They have already begun to connect with each other and plan their year together. One of the teams, Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Marcia Reynolds, shared about their aspirations for this time together.

Shimrit wrote, “I am excited about this journey. I finished the We Empower week in New York City very empowered and driven to go up a notch with my aspiration. Marcia and I have only begun our work together, and I already see the great value in looking at challenges from a different perspective. I hope the coaching will make me a better and stronger leader. Provide me with new tools to analyze and manage challenges and opportunities, strengthen my strategic thinking and help me drive a real industry change. One that will have a meaningful impact on our coastlines, and, will facilitate the growth of a strong, profitable company.”

Marcia added, “Shimrit represents the best of coaching for me. What separates coaching from consulting is instead of focusing on giving advice, coaches operate as 'thinking partners' providing a safe space for the leader to explore their perspective around dilemmas and opportunities. This exploration reveals new ideas and options to take that weren’t clear before. Shimrit’s willingness to openly discuss her challenges with curiosity and commitment makes our time together both productive and enjoyable. It is my honor to coach Shimrit as she is making an important difference for our world.”

These mentorships are in keeping with ILA’s mission to advance leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. They are also related to the vision behind ILA's 2018 Building Leadership Bridges books and to ILA’s forthcoming Women & Leadership conference taking place 16-19 June at 1440 Multiversity near Santa Cruz, California.

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ILA will stay in close contact with the awardees and their mentors to learn more about their leadership journey and share it with the ILA community and beyond through interviews and articles. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, let us introduce you to these remarkable entrepreneurs and their ILA mentors.

Habiba AliHabiba Ali, Founder, Managing Director, and CEO, Sosai Renewable Energies, Nigeria

Habiba is a pioneer in the renewable energies field. She is the founder, managing director, and CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies, an innovative company that brings reliable and affordable renewable energy products to those in Nigeria who need it most. Her sustainable energy solutions provide communities with unforeseen economic growth, increased capacity and the potential for greater business development.

Stella NkomoStella Nkomo, Professor, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria; and President, Africa Academy of Management (AFAM), South Africa

Stella is a noted scholar and consultant in the areas of leadership and change, diversified workforces, and women and leadership. Through her work in AFAM, Stella recognized that the time was ripe for a community of African management scholars to emerge and support research into, documentation of, and dissemination of African management and leadership practices.

Hadeel Mustafa AnabtawiHadeel Mustafa Anabtawi, Founder, The Alchemist Lab, Jordan

Hadeel is a social entrepreneur with a passion for empowering girls. She founded The Alchemist Lab, whose educational center has offered more than 25,000 children in cities, remote villages and refugee camps the skills they need to explore themselves and the world around them with confidence and determination.

Joanne BarnesJoanne Barnes, Dean, Graduate School, Indiana Wesleyan University and Professor, Department of Leadership Studies, USA

With more than 37 years in a global organization, Joanne is able to relate across multiple cultures and across all levels of organizations. Joanne’s current roles as a dean and professor allow her to work with adults in various sectors. Through her work, Joanne has created a large network of business and educational leadership professionals

Marijana SavicMarijana Savic, Founder and Director, NGO Atina and Bagel Bejgl Shop, Serbia

Marijana works as the founder and director of Serbian NGO Atina to combat human trafficking and fight violence against women. Through Atina’s creative social enterprise, Bagel Bejgl Shop, Marijana creates a safe space for women trafficking survivors to learn new skills and find employment opportunities alongside other survivors and at-risk women.

Claudia de Castro CaldeirinhaClaudia de Castro Caldeirinha, Founder & Executive Director, Redscope Consulting, Belgium

Claudia’s professional career has always been led by the wish to make a difference in other people's lives, through speaking, advising, mentoring, lecturing, facilitating, and training and coaching leaders and talented leaders-to-be. Her clients enjoy her enthusiasm, her results-oriented, creative "out of the box" solutions, and her ability to connect multiple "dots" together to find tailored solutions with a good dose of emotional intelligence.

Marta del Ril VillanuevaMarta del Rio Villanueva, Founder and CEO, Wasi Organics, Peru

Marta founded Wasi Organics, a unique Peruvian snack company based on environmental sustainability. Wasi Organics leverages the country’s culinary excellence, unique biodiversity and produce from small farmers’ associations to develop healthy, organic products at a fair price.

Laura SantanaLaura Santana, Senior Leadership Solutions Partner, Global Markets, Center for Creative Leadership, USA

A highly skilled facilitator, fluent in three languages (English, Spanish, and French), Laura has headed leader, team, and organizational development across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East for over 20 years. She guides clients around the world toward deep mindfulness, sustainable growth, more effective performance, and continuous development to benefit the individual, team, and organization.

Shimrit Perkol-FinkelShimrit Perkol-Finkel, Co-Founder and CEO, ECOncrete Tech Ltd., Israel

Shimrit, a marine biologist with expertise in the eco-engineering of coastal and marine infrastructure, is pioneering innovative and sustainable technologies to confront climate change and reinvigorate our coastlines world-wide. Shimrit co-founded ECOncrete®, a cutting-edge company that protects and rejuvenates our coastlines and marine resources using bio-enhancing concrete solutions that are strong, cost-effective and low-carbon.

Marcia ReynoldsMarcia Reynolds, President, Covisioning LLC, Arizona, USA

Marcia is the expert companies call on to uplift their connections, conversations, and cultures. She is known for her expertise in developing leaders to use Reflective Intelligence, Communication Kinesthetics, and Courageous Coaching to inspire engagement and innovation within their organizations. With over 36 years in cultural change and transformational leadership experience, her innovative, well-researched techniques give leaders the ability to manage their own emotions while dramatically improving their impact and results.