LEAP Program Delivers Impact with Social Innovation and Women’s Leadership Development

New York, NY, June 25, 2019. Press Release — The Leadership and Executive Acceleration Program (LEAP) celebrated the graduation of sixteen Irish and Irish-American women who participated in the 6-month leadership development, mentorship, and social innovation program. High-performing senior leaders were brought in to help develop and support the women to realize their full leadership potential and make significant institutional changes. Two not-for-profit organizations received support from its LEAP in the Community Project to help solve real business challenges, resulting in an increase in revenue and improved organizational strategies.

The women of the LEAP Program at the 2019 launch hosted at  Moët Hennessy HQ in New York City

The women of the LEAP Program at the 2019 launch hosted at Moët Hennessy HQ in New York City

Social Innovation through LEAP in the Community

LEAP selected two Irish-American not-for-profit groups to partner with for the 2019 LEAP in the Community Program, Solace House and Aisling Irish Community Center (AICC), and each organization was able to benefit from a team of eight women from diverse backgrounds and industries to enhance their strategic growth plans. Solace House provides confidential, therapeutic support for families and individuals impacted by suicide and self-harm, while the AICC offers programs and services to assist Irish immigrants transition to life in the USA. Over 93% of women reported that the knowledge they gained through LEAP was applied to the social innovation Projects with Solace House and AICC.

“At the end of the LEAP Program, Solace House is now better equipped with documentation and strategy plans focusing on expanding our programs and organizational structure,” said Danielle Gallagher, Director of Operations at Solace House. “Through a workshop on effective fundraising practices, Solace House was able to secure over $90,000 in additional revenue for our upcoming Solace Sunrise Walk.”

“Working with LEAP was of great benefit to us in a number of ways, as it helped us focus on our strategic plan and identify the areas in which we needed most assistance,” said Catherine Flood, Executive Director of the Aisling Irish Community Center. “As a result, LEAP helped us set new short-term measurable goals, re-evaluate our programs and services to prioritize it according to community need, and communicate these priorities in a coherent manner through creating a professional pitch-deck presentation to use when approaching corporate donors.”

The two Directors of the LEAP Program, Courtney Sunna and Maura Kelly, are both particularly invested in women’s leadership development and social innovation programs. “One of the most important pillars in any type of leadership development program is to prepare the next generation of leaders to invest in social innovation and the value of giving back,” said Courtney Sunna. “If you want change to happen, you have to make the change happen. That’s really what LEAP is all about: women supporting other women to increase diversity and inclusion in business leadership,” said Maura Kelly.

Gains in Leadership, Professional and Business Skills

Over the course of the Program, LEAP focused on enhancing the women’s professional and leadership skills with trainings and workshops on negotiation, effective leadership, entrepreneurship and fundraising, authenticity in personal branding, developing and managing teams, and building your dream network. LEAP tracked improvements in leadership skills through a series of pre- and post-surveys which were conducted by an external evaluator. Results include confidence gains in business knowledge as well as interpersonal skill development that can be applied in the workplace.

The initial results are as follows:

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“The hugely important thing about having women in leadership roles in business is that it creates a different type of decision making and a different environment inside the workplace,” said Ronan Dunne, President of Verizon Consumer Group at the 2019 LEAP Program launch event. “LEAP creates role models and improves the quality of thinking in leadership. The more diverse a board or a leadership group can be, the better the outcomes for the business, and of this I’m absolutely certain.”

As she addressed the women, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Chair of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, said, “LEAP is a fantastic initiative. Certainly you will not just be accelerated in your career development, but you will get to where you ought to be, which is at the helm.”

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason (center) with Co-Directors of LEAP Maura Kelly (left) and Courtney Sunna (right) at the 2019 launch of LEAP

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason (center) with Co-Directors of LEAP Maura Kelly (left) and Courtney Sunna (right) at the 2019 launch of LEAP

Another major outcome involved LEAP Speed Mentoring, in which the women were paired with senior leaders in rapid bursts of creative problem solving activities, for which 100% of participants rated that feedback received from the mentors was valuable. LEAP participants indicated that they would likely use and apply the mentors’ advice towards their own career advancement (100%), workplace dynamics and growing visibility (71%).

The graduation ceremony, held at the Consulate of Ireland-New York, was attended by senior staff of the Irish Consulate, as well as advisors, mentors, and supporters of the LEAP Program and families of the program graduates.


About the Leadership & Executive Acceleration Program (LEAP): Generously supported by the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Irish International Business Network (IIBN), and various organizations, the LEAP Program is able to deliver substantial impact to the women participants and non-profit partners at no charge. LEAP is all about helping ambitious professional Irish and Irish-American women living in the Greater New York/Tri-State area get more opportunity—to have a voice in important discussions—to have a seat at the table with the decision makers, and to promote a culture of women helping other women.

New York (PRWEB)

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