American Express invests in social sector leaders

High-potential emerging leaders from 10 international social sector organizations and NGOs will develop new skills May 6-10, 2013, during the American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird. The annual program launched in 2009 through a partnership with American Express, has served more than 100 managers from 39 organizations during its first four years.

“My deputy director and I came back from the intensive weeklong program brimming with new ideas,” said 2009 participant Michael McDonald, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Tucson, Arizona.

“One of the philanthropic goals of American Express is to focus on the development of social sector leaders,” said Thunderbird Professor Mary Teagarden, Ph.D., the program’s academic director. “These participants are on their way to positions of senior leadership.”

The curriculum of the American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird focuses on building the personal, business and leadership skills needed to manage and lead a successful nonprofit organization. The Academy is tailored to fit cultural nuances and different nonprofit niche needs with the following core elements being consistent: A focus on high-potential emerging leaders, a curriculum blending personal leadership skills with business skills, and an assessment-based approach, including one-on-one coaching, and formal follow-up activities.

The Global Mindset Inventory assessment is used as a pre- and post-program assessment to measure the global mindset profile of the participants. Post-program evaluations show the American Express Leadership Academy gets top scores from the emerging leaders who attend.

Participants report that the impact of this experience increases leadership skills and global mindset, and better strategic thinking about the future of their organization and their leadership. Participants also say they have increased their strategic thinking responsiveness and problem-solving skills.

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