March 25, 2021

Let’s Celebrate: Reflections from Creating Women Leaders: The Missing Links of Mentorship and Networking | March 9th CUGH Conference

It’s not every Zoom conference that you see, at the end of a 3-hour session, over 70% of attendees turn on their cameras and start singing and dancing to “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang while streams of celebratory comments and impactful quotes from the event flood the chat. This was exactly the scene following an mentorship event hosted by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) at the Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) Conference.

On March 9th, over 150 rising stars gathered for a 3-hour event run by HGHI’s LEAD Fellows – a cohort of mid and high-level international global health professionals completing a fellowship at Harvard University. This event’s objective was to cultivate female leadership in global health through building networking skills and participating in flash mentorship with LEAD Fellows and fellow attendees.  Attendees at the conference viewed short documentaries of LEAD funder Jane Sun, CEO of CTrip, as well as high-level women in global health, who reflected on the importance of mentorship and networking in building strong female leaders. They participated in a leadership training session with Jacqueline Franklin, leadership coach at Coach2Growth, and had presentations and breakout group discussions led by all LEAD fellows throughout the event focusing on investing in your network and building a robust mentorship support system. The conference concluded in small breakout group networking sessions, encouraging attendees to build connections that we hope to support through 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with LEAD fellows and a LinkedIn group, LEAD Extended, to continue this momentum.

Hosting energizing events that inspire people around the world is just one small part of what it means to be a LEAD Fellow… Over the course of the Fellowship, Fellows join the Harvard community as visiting research scientists for a 1-year immersive experience. Working closely with their mentors, Fellows enroll in Harvard courses, attend tailored skill-building workshops, complete 1:1 leadership training, and participate in networking opportunities that help propel their careers forward. While COVID-19 has restricted the 2020 cohort of fellows (Cynthia Mambo, Aida Kurtovic, and Carmen Contreras) to a virtual fellowship, there have been silver linings. CUGH has certainly been one of them, as it promoted the development of continued collaboration among LEAD fellows from both cohorts, beyond the formation of this event.

So, what’s next? For this cohort of LEAD Fellows, it is back to coursework and attending an expert-led workshop on Crisis Management. Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce that the 2021-22 LEAD Fellowship application is now open! We look forward to welcoming the third cohort of LEAD Fellows, who will join a close-knit community of former Fellows from around the world. More information and the application can be found here. In addition, if you missed the conference and would like to explore the content covered, the full recording is available here.

And for now, amidst the immense challenges the world has faced over the past year, we hope you are finding ways to Celebrate Good Times, as our LEAD Fellows so brilliantly did through this event.