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Global leaders vow to advance women

Left to right: Dr. Randa Jriesat, State Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-Minn.), Dr. Mary Totry, Lara Ali-Atoum, Esther Levanon Mordoch, Dr. Rula Quawas, Rina Bar-Tal.
Left to right: Dr. Randa Jriesat, State Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-Minn.), Dr. Mary Totry, Lara Ali-Atoum, Esther Levanon Mordoch, Dr. Rula Quawas, Rina Bar-Tal.
Photo by Leah Nankumba.

After nearly a week of exploring the barriers and successes of women in leadership from Israel, Jordan, and Minnesota, the Global Women’s Leadership Convening: Women in Public Life concluded on Wednesday, July 20 with a commitment by participants to continue to work together on issues of mutual concern, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 that calls upon all countries to allow increased representation for women at all levels.

This convening, hosted by the School of Business and Leadership (SBL) at St. Catherine University, was remarkable because it brought together women leaders from Israel and Jordan at a location where they could discuss their commonalities and differences without the political and social pressures that would be present if they met in the Middle East.

International planning partners for the convening were Israeli leader Rina Bar-Tal, chair of the Israel Women’s Network and  Dr. Rula Quawas, professor of American literature and feminism at the University of Jordan.

“We are honored to be at St. Kate’s to talk with intelligent women who come from Israel,” said Dr. Quawas. “We joined hands, we picked our brains, we had a dialogue and a conversation, and good things are going to come out of this conversation—I know it with all my heart.”

“These women live 35 miles apart at home, but a 20-hour plane ride was needed to bring them together at a safe and neutral place,” says Paula J. King, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Leadership at St. Catherine University.  The Global Women’s Leadership Convening resulted from the vision of Dean Paula King and State Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-Minn.).

Global Justice: a key pillar of SBL curriculum

Dean King worked to bring the event to St. Catherine University as part a larger effort from the School of Business and Leadership to integrate global justice as a pillar of the Business and Leadership curriculum. King led the Convening in conjunction with Martha Hardesty, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program.

Serving as co-facilitators were Ariella Tilsen MAOL '99, a senior consultant at Cincinnatus, a firm that provides leadership support services for organizations; and Ginny Belden-Charles, adjunct professor in the MAOL and co-founder of the Center for Emerging Leadership.

Innovative structure for future growth

Another notable aspect of the convening is that a process called emergent design was used to plan the event. “Emergent design is based on the assumption that ‘over planning’ every minute of a gathering or pre-specifying ‘outcomes’ does not allow the group to surface and address the topics or ideas that are front and center on people’s minds,” says Dean King.

The sessions of the convening were designed around questions to begin conversations rather than around desired outcomes to be met. According to Dean King, the expectations for the Convening were that the core participants in the Convening would learn together, would be respectful of differences, and would each share stories to help the group understand leadership.  These expectations were fulfilled and exceeded by the interactions at the Convening.

Around August 15, a website will go live at that will serve as a repository for the collected knowledge and resources, including podcasts and video developed through the event.

The aim is to share the results of Global Women’s Leadership Convening more broadly and to create a framework for future gatherings of both emerging and accomplished global women leaders.

July 26, 2011 by Elizabeth Otto

See also: Business, Faculty, Leadership