Creative continues legacy of empowerment with first Women’s Leadership Program graduates

By Ashley Williams

November 21, 2018

After 10 months of training and mentorship, 14 women have graduated as the inaugural class of the Creative Women’s Leadership Program. The program guided participants on how to be effective changemakers by bringing them together to learn, assess and apply key leadership skills.

“It was fascinating how awesome all of the (Women’s Leadership) cohort is … We realized that we were not utilizing all our strengths to influence the change we think needs to occur in society. And society can only change if Creative adapts and becomes agile enough that all the voices of this new leadership are ready to be heard,” said founder Charito Kruvant.

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Founder Charito Kruvant and graduates Noy Villalobos and Sylvia Ellison at the graduation celebration. Photo by Ashley Williams.

The program pushed participants outside of their comfort zones, underscoring the importance of knowing one’s strengths, blind spots and appetite for risk and innovation. To support this growth, the Creative Women’s Leadership Program brought in experts on critical leadership and creativity, adaptability and agility, unconscious bias, emotional intelligence and vulnerability. Trainers worked with participants to hone targeted skills, including peer coaching and dynamic dialogue, and help them explore evidence-based approaches such as “the science of strengths” and the “neuroscience of communication”.

“I hope you know this program is important, not only for what it offers its participants, but also for what it represents,” said Chief Operating Officer Pablo Maldonado to a full room of graduates and their supporters. “It really means that Creative is a very special place. And it means that we are committed to doing whatever it takes to keep it just that – special.”

President & CEO Leland Kruvant remarked on the importance of the participants sharing these skills with other women to continue developing female leaders throughout the organization and beyond.

The program’s inaugural cohort was comprised of Creative leaders with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience implementing complex development projects throughout Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

“This program demonstrates how highly Creative values its female leaders, and how committed it is to investing in the next generation of female development leaders,” says program graduate Katy Vickland, Creative’s Workforce Development and Youth Practice Area Director.

“Through undertaking a 360-degree review of our performance, and in discussions with a superb leadership coach, we had a chance to take a close look at our leadership strengths and identify areas to improve and how to improve. I apply what I learned every day in my interactions with my team and our projects.”

The program – under the guidance of Charito Kruvant – was co-led by Executive Committee members Sharon Cooley and Jessica Kruvant, who also participated in the program. Graduates include Corrie Blankenbeckler, Jen Divis, Sylvia Ellison, Ellen Go, Deborah Kimble, Katherine Krueger, Carola Mandelbaum, Heather Noll, Maria Pelaez, Eileen St. George, Katy Vickland and Noy Villalobos.

Each of them were presented a snow globe containing stones stacked on top of each other, serving as a reminder that women are stronger when they lean on each other, explained Vice President of External Relations Jessica Kruvant.

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Vice President of External Relations Jessica Kruvant presenting the graduates with snow globes. Photo by Ashley Williams.

Creative was founded more than 40 years ago by four entrepreneurial women with a passion for education and opportunity. Decades later, that spirit continues to drive the organization’s commitment to both excellence in development and supporting female leadership.

Charito Kruvant thanked the male leaders present for their support and, with a smile, told them to prepare themselves for their newly graduated women colleagues: “We’re going to challenge you.”

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