This was the 10th year of TechWomen, a program that began in 2011 when IIE welcomed just 37 Emerging Leaders representing six countries. 10 years later, TechWomen 2020-2021 welcomed 106 Emerging Leaders from 21 countries, who have now officially joined our growing community of fellows and mentors around the globe.
The 2020-2021 Emerging Leaders concluded the program with a Virtual Delegation to Washington, D.C. where they had the opportunity to come together as a group, meet pioneering women leaders in public policy and celebrate their hard work. The Virtual Delegation kicked-off with Regional Bureau Briefings, where Emerging Leaders were welcomed by Angela Woods, Program Manager of the Global Leaders Division in the Office of Citizen Exchanges at ECA as well as Bureau representatives Pen Agnew (MENA), Patricia Ehrnman (SSA), and Kerri Hannan (CSA). After months of developing their action plans, Emerging Leader teams presented their initiatives during the briefings, pitching their projects that address socioeconomic needs in their home countries and communities.
At the Women in Leadership event that followed, Angela Woods was joined by Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Deputy Executive Secretary at the Office of the Secretary of State as well as Stacy White, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Professional and Cultural Exchanges. Together, the panelists spoke about their career journeys — including challenges and opportunities faced by women in leadership positions — and the role of mentorship in professional development. “Know that your leadership journey will not be without sacrifice,” Angela reminded Emerging Leaders as she chronicled her own challenges navigating career transitions. During her talk, Stephanie reminded Emerging Leaders that there is no substitute for hard work, and emphasized the pivotal role mentorship has played in her life. Stacy encouraged all Emerging Leaders to bloom where they are planted, and to always remain adaptable and agile in their career journeys.
Emerging Leaders become fellows
Finally, it was time for the Closing Ceremony, when Emerging Leaders officially became TechWomen fellows. In addition to sharing about their own experiences, Emerging Leaders had the opportunity to hear encouragement and inspiration from ECA’s Acting Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Lussenhop, as well as Professional Mentors, Facilitators, Impact Coaches, Peer Advisors and fellows who shared their advice, wisdom and congratulations on such an enormous achievement. ““It’s your turn to follow the footsteps of previous generations of ELs. You will revolutionize the STEM industry.” Angela Woods congratulated each Emerging Leader, acknowledging that, in the virtual program, many of them had to balance family duties, home life and work: “We know it has not been easy, so thank you for sticking with it,” she said.
Emerging Leaders Tamara Egamnazarova of Uzbekistan, Anna Gowera of Zimbabwe and Madina Samakbaeva of Kyrgyzstan shared about their experience during the TechWomen program’s various components — Professional Interest Groups, action planning, and professional mentorship. Anna spoke
Emerging Leaders also received a video surprise from the distinguished panel of judges who heard all 21 country teams’ action plans. In the video, impact investor Aarti Chandna, Gigi Wang of UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Lisa Jones of Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund – SV2 and Meriem Bekka of VMware shared their feedback, positivity and advice for Emerging Leaders as they take the next step in their professional journeys. “Push hard,” said Gigi. “Don’t be scared of that next step. You’ll learn, and you’ll overcome it.”
We hope to see all 106 fellows at our October 2021 capstone event, where mentors and fellows will convene in the San Francisco Bay Area for mentorship, cultural activities and continued work on their action plan projects. And to our #techwomen20_21 fellows: Congratulations! Welcome to our alumnae community of over 800 women strong.