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Case Study: FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnership


June 16, 2009

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Background Information

Partnership Name: FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnership
Partnership Type: Resource Sharing
PPP Life Cycle Phase for Learning: Renewal/Closure
Bureau or Post: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
State Department Strategic Goal: Promoting International Understanding
Background Information
Major Partners: FORTUNE Most Powerful Women’s Summit, U.S. non-profit organization (this has been Vital Voices Global Partnership) and the mentors’ companies.
Resource Contributions: FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women’s Summitreaches out to its membership of senior executive women for mentors. The mentors and their companies provide international travel, per-diem during the mentoring assignment and expertise and professional experience. The USG provides a grant to a U.S. non-profit organization (this has beenVital Voices Global Partnership). Post provides screening of mentees in the field, ensures that there is a qualified candidate pool and follows up with mentees upon their return home.
Dates of Partnership: This is a sustaining partnership: 2006-Present
Problem/Challenge Statement: Advancing the political, social, and economic rights of women still remains a major challenge for women around the world.

The U.S. Department of State and FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit, in partnership with Vital Voices, joined together to launch the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership in May 2006. The inaugural program placed seventeen talented, emerging women leaders from all over the world in mentoring programs with FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women Leaders. In 2007, the program expanded to include 32 women leaders and following the completion of the 2009 program, there are now 106 alumnae.

International women leaders often lack mentors in their own nations and communities. Often the first generation to enter the work place; these women can benefit greatly from advice, teachings, and technical assistance geared specifically to their personal situation.

This partnership was the result of synergy between The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit. A conversation between then Assistant Secretary Dina Powell and Pattie Sellers, Editor at Large at FORTUNE Magazine and the Chair of FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit, led to the recognition of shared objectives. With the approval of then Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes, steps were taken to establish the program. For the past three years, the Bureau has awarded a grant to Vital Voices Global Partnership to provide expertise in women’s leadership and to manage the logistics of the program, including measurement and evaluation.

The three-phase program opens with an orientation session in Washington, DC, where the participants meet with senior women in government, academia, and business. The international participants are then paired with one of FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women Leaders from companies like Time Inc., Avon, Wal-Mart, American Express, and Exxon Mobil in cities across the United States. For three weeks, American and international participants work together in mentoring relationships to share the skills and experiences necessary for strengthening women’s leadership. The program concludes in New York City. During previous New York phases of the program, participants have had meetings with women leaders from Goldman Sachs, Solera Capital, and Huffington.com.

Mentors have become so dedicated to the program that they return to it year after year. Some have sponsored women in each year. For their part, mentees have returned home to mentor other women and girls in their own home countries. This program continues because of the Department’s and the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit’s commitment to supporting women’s leadership.

Key Take Aways:

  • A partnership can start via a serendipitous meeting or stroke of luck. The key is to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself and to identify values and goals that the partner and the U.S. State Department share.
  • Expertise is a core resource from the private sector. The mentors’ business acumen and experience provides mentees with resources that are extremely valuable while difficult to quantify.



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