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Everything I’ve learned about leadership, I’ve learned from the women of our global network. Their insight, their experience and their conviction have informed and enriched my own. I see the concept of leadership as ever-adapting, evolving – different times and different places elicit different qualities of leadership. There’s no one mold for a “woman leader.” There’s no formula to follow. And I think there’s great power in that sense of possibility. 

Women’s leadership is by no means unconventional. It’s not a new idea we’re talking about – women have always led communities, governments and businesses. Oftentimes, however, a woman’s path to leadership is unconventional. Whether it’s her passion that compels her to lead, or circumstance that requires it of her, her view of what it means to be a leader is naturally unique.

While I was in Mexico City, I caught up with individual leaders of our regional network to discuss their work, the barriers they face, and their thoughts on women’s leadership. I wanted to share just a few of their perspectives here, and invite you to consider this space as the starting point of an ongoing conversation on leadership.


Alexandra Kissling, co-founder of Vital Voices Costa Rica (pictured, right):

“Women’s leadership is transformative and interactive. It is very innovative, intuitive, creative and holistic. We include people, hear different perspectives, and make people participate. Teams led by women become more integrated…[There is] less vertical leadership, more shared power.”

Pictured, left to right: Mabel Velaszquez, co-founder, Voces Vitales Honduras; Rebecca Ganster, Program Coordinator, Latin America and the Caribbean, Vital Voices Global Partnership; Alexandra Kissling, Member, Vital Voices Costa Rica Network

Gladys Zarak, president and founder of Vital Voices Peru (pictured, left):

“Women have a different energy – they know how to run a family, and the world is a family.”

Pictured, left to right: Gladys Zarak, Founder, Voces Vitales PerĢ¼; Eugenia Podesta, Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, Vital Voices Global Partnership; Maria Gabriela Hoch, co-founder, Voces Vitales Argentina; Ileana Frauman, Program Coordinator, Voces Vitales Argentina; Ceci Martinez, Executive Director, Voces Vitales Honduras

Daniela Martinez, project coordinator of Vital Voices Panama (pictured, center):

“I think that leadership has more to do with us as human beings, not just as women. We tend to look at what we can do to change things we don’t like.”

Pictured, left to right: Anylda Morales, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx Express; Daniela Martinez, Program Coordinator, Voces Vitales Guatemala; Anita Melendez, Executive Director, Voces Vitales Guatemala

Graciela Gutierrez, executive director of Vital Voices Costa Rica (pictured, third from left):

“I believe that women deal with problems in an inclusive way. We bring the needs and interests of other people to the table.”


Continue following me on Twitter and watch out for updates from my next trip overseas. And don’t forget to keep up with Vital Voices through our RSS, Twitter and Facebook.

Alyse Nelson, President & CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership