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Global leadership league for women launches

A new Global Leadership League aimed at empowering women working in international education, a “virtual golf club”, had its official launch on the fringes of the NAFSA Conference in Denver this month.

Strong support for the launch event of the women's leadership event

How do we provide skill-building and opportunities as a community for women to talk about leadership?

The league will be a membership-based organisation offering a lot of online events, support and mentoring to women working in international education as well as opportunities to meet up.

Close to 1,000 women have already expressed an interest in knowing more about GLL and around 100 turned up to support its inaugural launch event.

Two lynchpins of the league are Cynthia Banks, best known as founder and CEO at Globalinks Learning Abroad, which was acquired in 2014, and Sarah Spencer, director of study abroad at University of St Thomas, MN.

“We were in danger of having the largest steering committee in the world,” Spencer told assembled ladies (and one man spotted), at the launch event, revealing hundreds of women had volunteered their services over the last six months as the league took shape.

She explained that the league will seek to promote strong membership engagement and volunteerism within the league community, while experts from outside the profession will deliver content.

Other interesting ideas include salary surveys so that members can use the data in negotiations and guidance on “how to speak to your CFO”, as well as an anonymous Q&A forum.

Sarah Spencer outlines the vision of the league

Sarah Spencer outlines the vision of the league

“In my history, there have been so many women who want to learn more about leadership skills and business skills, and in the last six months, we decided it was time we put some structure around this,” Banks told The PIE News, underlining that while originating in the US, the league already has members from further afield.

“We really want to make it a global space, we are all part of a global [industry],” added Banks, who was helped by a steering committee of 20 and is now offering up new volunteer roles.

“We’re hoping to do a lot online because not all women can either afford or be at some of the major conferences,” she explained. “We will offer online content, mentoring and we’re going to appoint some regional [representatives] to do regional meetings for women who can’t ever get to a national event. So they get some face-to-face connections as well.”

Spencer added that as a result of running workshops at other events, an appetite – especially among younger women – for support was noticeable. “The focus is, how do we provide skill-building and opportunities as a community for women to talk about leadership?”

One steering committee member is Mandy Reinig who runs social media consultancy Mandy’s Mashups. “It’s gotten global,” she said. “We’ve had membership or interest from Europe, Australia as well as North America.”

MT Frain, executive vice president for study abroad at CIEE, said she attended to help “support the success” of women. “Even though the field is dominated by females, there is a large male presence that could for younger generations of women be a little intimidating,” she added.

Fifty women also stayed on in Denver to attend the morning workshop, “Finding your Balance”. Readers can sign up to find out more here and a gallery of photos from the event is here.

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