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Drawing on earlier successes this year in Haiti and South Africa, Vital Voices and Bank of America will convene a mentoring forum in India to explore the role women’s leadership can play in advancing economic opportunity and strengthening civic participation at all levels. 

This third forum of 2012 is part of the Global Ambassadors Program, which mobilizes accomplished professionals, including women business executives and other leaders from the private and public sectors, as mentors for emerging women leaders in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. 


From October 16 to 20, six Global Ambassadors (mentors) paired with six mentees and invited international women leaders are gathering for a critical dialogue on the value of women’s leadership and the myriad barriers and opportunities faced by women in a variety of private sector industries in India.

Centered on the theme of “Women’s Advancement in India’s Growing Economy,” women entrepreneurs, advocates and influencers will participate in interactive sessions to address topics such as business and economic challenges that inhibit the potential of women-owned businesses in India, corporate social responsibility and the role of women, and the relationship between mentoring, leadership development and career growth.


Representing a wide range of industry and expertise, the six mentors participating in the program include:

  • M. Susan Chambers, executive vice president,
    People Division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
  • Geraldine B. Laybourne, founder and former chairman and
    CEO of Oxygen Media;
  • Candace Browning, head of global research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch;
  • Julie Fasone Holder, founder and principle at JFH Insights;
  • Donna Orender, CEO of Orender Unlimited; and
  • Janie Wanless, managing director and head of corporate banking, country manager at Bank of America NA.

 The Global Ambassadors will be matched with mentees from across India:

  • Smita Mankad, managing director, Artisans Micro Finance Pvt. Ltd.;
  • Akanksha Hazari, founder and CEO, m.Paani;
  • Archana Surana, founder & director, Arch Academy of Design;
  • Dr. Rashmi Tiwari, CEO, CEO Clubs of India;
  • Sohini Chakraborty, founder, Kolkata Sanved; and
  • Sarika Gupta Bhattacharyya, founder and director, Altavis Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd.

The events in India build on mentoring forums held earlier this year in South Africa and Haiti, during which Global Ambassadors worked with mentees and a growing network of women leaders from around the world to develop platforms on the role of women in driving progress in each respective country and on a global scale.

“Women can be powerful drivers of economic development, improving lives for individuals, families and communities,” said Candace Browning, head of global research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and a Global Ambassador in India. “There is a strong correlation between gender equality and a country’s GDP per capita as well as its level of competitiveness. Ultimately, empowering women results in a more efficient use of a country’s human capital.”


Vital Voices Mentoring Walks take place around the world each fall, and they offer women business and civic leaders and the next generation of female talent the opportunity to exchange ideas and share advice in navigating new paths to leadership.

To extend the value of one-to-one mentoring fostered by the program in India, mentees will have a unique opportunity to share their perspective with additional women through participation in the fifth annual Vital Voices Mentoring Walk on October 20 in Mumbai. The event builds on the powerful connections that can be established as women leaders and mentees walk together and discuss their professional challenges and successes.


The Global Ambassadors Program is part of Vital Voices’ and Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to investing in leadership development, a goal guided by the belief that strong leaders are vital to healthy, vibrant communities and help advance economic growth. Over time, mentors and their mentees build critical communications, advocacy and business skills and develop strategies for emerging leaders to advance their work.

Since the Haiti and South Africa programs earlier this year, mentees have continued to advance on a path of leadership through  government appointments, participation in high level policy meetings, and developing project proposals to strengthen the voice of women in decision-making.

“In today’s ever-changing world, in which new opportunities and challenges present themselves on a daily basis, the need for mentorship of emerging women leaders has never been so critical,” said Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices. “Through the Global Ambassadors Program, we are striving to address economic disparities and create a more prosperous, secure world by enhancing women’s leadership through mentorship and providing women with decision-making influence in their respective countries. As India accelerates its relative economic power, these mentoring forums will help to prepare women to play a central role in driving progress and social change across sectors.”

Read the second post in this series>> Day 1 Delhi, Global Ambassadors Program in India

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Read the Global Ambassadors Program blogs from Haiti and South Africa

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