Since 2012, our small team has played a part in touching every corner of the world. By supporting and training international leaders through our partnership with the U.S. Department of State and espnW, the Center for Sport, Peace, & Society has left an imprint in Jordan’s Syrian refugee camps, the soccer and softball fields of Mexico, and the disaster-affected southern islands of the Philippines.
For the fifth consecutive year, the center is implementing the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP), a five-week cultural exchange program partnering international female sports leaders with female executives at organizations such as Google, NBA, NHL, and Disney XD.
“October is absolutely our favorite time of year,” said Dr. Ashleigh Huffman, assistant director of the center. “Welcoming 16 women from around the world to our nation’s capital makes us proud to be American. It’s a privilege to watch these accomplished women grow and form an unbreakable sisterhood that will carry them as they advocate for equality and opportunity at home.”
For the program, the center collaborates with mentors and other program partners to provide 16 women with the tools to return home to their countries and increase access and opportunity for women to participate in sports. During the first week in Washington DC, the emerging leaders take part in curriculum sessions led by Drs. Huffman and Sarah Hillyer, director of the center, as well as activity sessions that include self-defense, aerial yoga, adapted sports, and executive leadership coaching.
This 2016 class joins the ranks of 66 remarkable alumnae—Olympians and Paralympians, journalists, government officials, civic leaders and advocates, sports administrators—from more than 40 countries. In 2016, the 16 participants hail from Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Jordan, South Korea, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, and Ukraine.
Working side-by-side with these emerging female leaders, senior female executives in the U.S. sports sector open their respective organization as a host site while sharing their personal business, entrepreneurial, and strategic management insights. The mentors support the emerging leaders as they develop action plans aimed to allow more women and girls around the world to experience the benefits of sports participation: enhanced self-esteem and confidence, improved academic performance, and increased health and wellbeing, which empower them to create stronger and more stable communities.
The 2016 mentor organizations are America East Conference, Big East Conference, Disney, ESPN, Google, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment, National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), New York Road Runners (NYRR), RPA Advertising, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the University of Connecticut, and the University of North Carolina.
“The mentors are critical to the success of this program,” Dr. Hillyer said. “The tools, resources, and networks they provide the emerging leaders are what propel them to be global change agents. It’s amazing to reflect on the GSMP network around the world and the multiplier effect that is taking place because of the incredible women and men involved in this program.”
The program runs through November 10, when the emerging leaders return to DC to present their action plans before the center, mentors, and representatives from the State Department and espnW.