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In 2008, entrepreneur Taniesha Burke of Jamaica participated in the Vital Voices of the Americas: Women as a Bridge to a More Prosperous Future Summit, where she met leadership expert and Vital Voices Board Member Dr. Karen Otazo Hofmeister. The two women have since formed a mentoring relationship and recently took part in a leadership forum organized by Ms. Burke in Kingston. In the article below, the women share their experience and the story of their mentor and mentee bond.

‘The Vital Voices Global Partnership Connection from Buenos Aires to Kingston’

Vital Voices Global Partnership’s mandate of identifying, training and empowering emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a better world for all through the provision of the capacity, connections, and credibility they need to unlock their leadership potential has reached the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica. Vital Voices’ commitment to networking and mentoring in particular were among many of its core areas of focus during the Caribbean and Latin American Summit in Buenos Aires in October 2008.

During this fantastic, bonding experience Dr. Karen Otazo Hofmeister, leadership expert and a committed Vital Voices facilitator from Houston, Texas, and Taniesha Burke, an enthusiastic entrepreneur from Kingston, Jamaica met. The networking between the two developed and matured into a mentoring relationship which led to the publication of Taniesha’s first book: Raising the Next Barack Obama: A Guide in How to Develop Core Principles for Success in Your Child.

The network created through Vital Voices moved from mentoring to reciprocal mentoring. In August 2009 Dr. Otazo Hofmeister visited Kingston, Jamaica on the invitation of Taniesha to work closely on a leadership forum titled “Invest in Solutions: Leadership and Responsibility” with The Social & Economic Alliance for Development, (SEAD) which is a policy think tank of young professionals whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental issues in national forums. Through collaborative and interactive meetings, focus groups, radio and television interviews, Dr. Karen was able to partner with savvy Jamaicans to support social entrepreneurship going forward while honoring the support of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and the American Embassy in enabling Taniesha to go to Buenos Aires last year.

Dr. Otazo Hofmeister expresses her gratitude to Hilary Brown, M.D. for her hospitality as well as to Taniesha Burke and Javette Nixon for connecting Vital Voices with SEAD Jamaica. The next step will be to make the Vital Voices chapter official with an event in Kingston and perhaps in Montego Bay.

This single meeting at a leadership forum between Karen and Taniesha is substantive proof that many individuals’ lives around the world can be touched and transformed through the simple yet powerful tool of networking and mentoring of emerging leaders by those who have experienced the highs and lows of success.


Recipe for Career Success – The Gleaner

Transforming and Empowering Women Through Leadership: My Experience in Buenos Aires – Taniesha Burke – The Gleaner