Executive Leadership Council Provides Global Mentoring Experience for Young Women
Five female collegiate scholars selected to join members of The Executive Leadership Council in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet with global business leaders in South Africa have returned home awestruck and exhilarated. The scholars were recipients of the 2008-09 Ann Fudge Scholarships, named in honor of the first woman chair of the Council and former chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands.
Fudge, who currently serves on boards of foundations and companies such as General Electric and Novartis, complimented the women: "I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of these young women. Their experiences in South Africa will enable them to truly be Citizens of the World, capable of understanding different cultures and working in our global business environment."
The eight-day visit in conjunction with LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) featured stops in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and tours of the Apartheid Museum and Robbins Island. The scholars were chaperoned by Council members including Marva Smalls, executive vice president — global inclusion strategy & executive vice president — public affairs & chief of staff, MTV Networks; Dr. Jane E. Smith, executive director of the Spelman College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement; and Joy Booker, president of NextGen Network, the pipeline organization of The Executive Leadership Council.
"Traveling to South Africa was a necessity in order for me to grow and learn, and we gained so much from this experience," remarked Rachel Niani Cheeseborough, a Spelman College rising senior. "I will always be grateful for having the opportunity to share this experience with phenomenal people."
"A global experience has never been more compelling in shaping a young person's career," said Westina Matthews Shatteen, Ph.D., managing director, community business development with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, and architect of the Ann Fudge Scholars program and coordinator of the South African tour. "That is why we, at The Executive Leadership Council, believed it was crucial for our Ann Fudge scholars to receive not only scholarship support but also the unparalleled experience of traveling to another country, chaperoned by ELC women and hosted by ELC member companies."
"The South Africa trip taught me the significance of cross-cultural communication," said Denyqua Rodriguez, a rising senior at Bennett College for Women. "I now have a greater awareness and appreciation for diversity and inclusion." Another Bennett College rising senior, Khadijah Dargan, added, "I truly appreciate this eye-opening trip that has caused me to move rapidly toward truly understanding globalization. I feel as if I have been given the world, and it is all due to the empowered women of The Executive Leadership Council."
The scholars visited senior executives from GE, Johnson & Johnson and other global companies in the region to gain firsthand insight into global business and professional and personal leadership development. Venus Taylor, a second-year M.B.A. student at The University of Chicago, said, "As world markets become increasingly integrated, it is important for us to become members of the global community if we want to make any impact. The exposure granted by this trip to South Africa has opened doors to what I can apply to my M.B.A. studies as well as to my career."
Chaperone Marva Smalls of MTV Networks observed, "The trip to South Africa was a great complement to the academic studies and internships of the Anne Fudge Scholars. Not only did it add to their personal and professional development, but they were able to witness firsthand the innovative work of global companies in connecting their businesses back to the community and their employees to each other. On a professional level, I gained great insight into the various models used to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, which can also be championed within MTV Networks."
The scholarships awarded each of the women $5,000 and were presented at The Executive Leadership Council's 2008 Black Women's Leadership Summit in New York City last summer. All funds for the scholarships and travel expenses for the scholars were raised by hundreds of ELC members through support of past annual women's summits. The students also were recognized at The Council's 2008 Annual Recognition Awards black-tie gala in New York last October, which was attended by more than 2,000 leaders in business, higher education and public policy.
"This global excursion has exceeded all of my expectations," said Spelman College rising senior Michelle Maltbia. "With each new experience I found an opportunity for my own personal growth — and for that I am eternally grateful."