Developing women’s leadership potential in Africa | Lerner
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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Sunny Rosen October 4, 2017

Amanda Bullough, assistant professor of management at the Lerner College and co-leader of Lerner’s Women’s Leadership Forum, spent five weeks this past summer working with an esteemed group of young women from five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – Kenya, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire – who participated in the Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership.

“Working with these women was a highlight of my career,” Bullough said. “Women’s leadership development is a real passion of mine and a large area of focus for my research. The 20 women selected into this program are the cream of the crop from their universities. They are all going to be huge forces for growth and development in their countries and stellar role models for all who witness their journey. We just helped them to uncover and polish their own leadership potential.”

The University of Delaware’s Institute for Global Studies (IGS) secured the grant, welcomed the women, and managed all logistics of their visit, including classroom time and instructors, and site visits around Delaware to non-profit organizations and government agencies. Participants also had the opportunity to meet several of Delaware’s U.S. and state senators, and visit Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

“These women served as excellent examples of young leaders and citizen diplomats for their home countries,” said Dan Bottomley, associate director of Global Partnerships & Programs at IGS. “They have a great opportunity to take all they learned during the program and fulfill their change-making potential.”

The program was funded by cooperative agreement from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) awards support five-week academic programs for foreign undergraduate leaders. Hosted by U.S. academic institutions throughout the United States, like UD, all Institutes include an intensive academic component, an educational tour of other regions of the country, local community service activities, leadership skill building and a unique opportunity for participants to get to know their American peers.

This specific SUSI program on women’s leadership exposed the visitors to the history and participation of women in public life in the United States. The Institutes focus on two major areas: developing participants’ leadership skills in areas such as critical thinking, communication, decision-making and managerial abilities; and placing these abilities in the context of the history and participation of women in U.S. politics, economics, culture and society.

“We didn’t just expose our African guests to all that we are proud of as Americans,” Bullough said. “They also got an honest disclosure of some of the historical realities that we are less proud of, like racism and slavery.”

“Working with this incredible group of women was a truly humbling experience and I cannot wait to see what they accomplish upon returning home,” added IGS SUSI program coordinator Shestin Thomson. “They were chosen for their exemplary leadership skills, which only continued to develop over the five weeks they were with us, culminating in a final presentation of the projects they plan to implement at home to empower others and ‘lift while they climb.’”

“Not only was it a privilege to be a part of this program and spend time with these wonderful ladies, it was also a lot of fun and I got to work with some of the best program staff ever,” Bullough said.