At opening night of the third annual Women in the World Summit in New York on March 8, Bank of America President and CEO Brian Moynihan announced the Global Ambassadors Program, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership to provide mentorship opportunities for emerging women leaders. We couldn’t have been more excited to dĢ©but the program on such a significant and truly global stage on International Women’s Day. The initiative is an innovative extension of what we know to be true: Women leaders are multipliers.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was the first trip for the Global Ambassadors Program. Traveling with Vital Voices was an extraordinary group of accomplished women leaders:
- Maria Bello, actor and activist
- Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture for the Republic of Liberia
- Justine Metz, Marketing Executive for Global Wealth & Investment (GWIM) Marketing at Bank of America
- Connie Morella, former Ambassador to the OECD and former Member of Congress
- Mu Sochua, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Women Affairs for the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Over four days, the five Global Ambassadors began a mentorship with five Haitian women leaders, including:
- Rachel Coupaud, YWCA of Haiti Board Member, businesswoman and reconstruction expert
- Mimose Felix, agronomy engineer and head of the local NGO, Support Group for the Economic Rehabilitation of the Haitian Family
- Marie Annaise Fertil, lawyer, nurse and HIV/AIDS activist
- Marie Giselhaine Mompremier, women’s rights activist, nurse and law clerk
- Danielle Saint-LĢ«t, co-founder of the Vital Voices Haiti Chapter, Femmes en DĢ©mocratie, and former of Minister Commerce, Industry and Tourism
Haitian National Women’s Platform
The Haiti trip coincided with a working session of 100 Haitian women activists, policymakers, healthcare workers and educators, convened to finalize the first ever National Women’s Platform for Haiti. The five Global Ambassadors shared expertise on communications, outreach and advocacy – critical skills for enlisting the support of the community for a Platform that calls for greater representation of women in Haiti’s reconstruction and development efforts.
Because of the 2010 earthquake, too many of the Platform participants were raising children in addition to their own. When Connie Morella told her own touching story of raising her sister’s children, the women in the room nodded their heads. Connie was one of them. Florence Chenoweth, who works every day for a world free from hunger and has played a significant role in her country’s recovery, pushed agricultural diversity as a means to a sustainable future for Haiti. The Global Ambassadors’ contributions to the passionate and often emotional plenary sessions will sustain the Platform as it moves forward.
The meeting was tense at times, with outbursts of passionate shouting. But it was also full of songs, including the Platform’s energetic and catchy – I’m still singing it to myself – theme song, “Nap Vanse!” (We Advance), which pays tribute to one of our Global Ambassadors, Maria Bello.
Mu Sochua led also led them in a gentle but powerful humming and then song, which further deepened the feeling that they were all in this process together.
Together, the Haitian women and the Global Ambassadors finalized the Platform, which was then presented to President and First Lady Martelly and over two hundred guests on the final day of the conference. View more photos from the trip here.
Shared Commitment to Leadership and Mentoring
The program in Haiti exemplified Bank of America’s commitment to investing in leadership development and mentoring. They selected one of the company’s top marketing executives to serve as a Global Ambassador in Haiti, Justine Metz, who volunteered to be the Platform’s unofficial marketing and communication consultant. Anne Finucane, the top Global Strategy and Marketing officer and Global Ambassador, and Andrea Smith, the global head of Human Resources, participated in the final day of meetings with the Platform participants. President and CEO Brian Moynihan offered remarks at the Platform presentation dinner with President Michel Martelly, noting his own personal connection to Haiti and his support for what the women are trying to accomplish.
What’s clear is that Vital Voices has a true partner in the Global Ambassadors Program that is committed to its success.
And we know that, from 15 years of working in 144 counties around the world, women leaders are multipliers: they take news skills, expertise and access to networks, and pass them on to the next generation of women who come after them.
On the Horizon
Plans are full speed ahead with our next trip, and we will post updates as the program develops. Check back here for updates on our work in Haiti and for perspectives from our Global Ambassadors. Be sure to visit the Global Ambassadors site often; we’ll be adding more photos from Haiti and our next trip soon.
Ashley Chandler is the senior manager of the Global Ambassadors Program.