Leadership & Executive Acceleration Program has launched a new women's leadership and social innovation program in partnership with local non-profits that support women in poverty. 

The Irish International Business Network (IIBN) and Leadership and Executive Acceleration Program (LEAP) hosted a special event to launch LEAP’s 2020 Women’s Leadership Program and featured a keynote by Board Director, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman & PR Week Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee, Aedhmar Hynes.

The LEAP program aims to strengthen the leadership and entrepreneurship skills of women and amplify the need for gender equality innovation in business. The group's special focus is on developing leaders who commit to making an impact in the community. 

Read more: US giant Comcast buys out Irish cloud-based telecom Blueface

Over the past decade, the representation of women in senior leadership roles has increased but women continue to be underrepresented at nearly every level, from the bottom rung to the C-suite. One of the biggest barriers in the pathway to senior leadership is at the first step up to manager, as less women are being promoted overall, according to a 2019 study by McKinsey. 

LEAP is a five-month program for ambitious professional Irish and Irish-American women living in the greater New York/tri-state area. This leadership and professional development program is designed to advance participants' career goals and personal growth by providing access to expert speakers and coaches, skills training workshops, and ultimately, a strong network of peer mentors. 

Attendees including Maura Kelly (far-left) and Katie Molony (far-right) at the launch of the 2020 LEAP program.

Attendees including Maura Kelly (far-left) and Katie Molony (far-right) at the launch of the 2020 LEAP program.

Through support from the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs, the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) developed the LEAP professional development program to empower women to advance in the workplace and strengthen the roles women can play in each other’s success. 

"The women in the program are committed to making their leadership development a priority, and will use their voices to make a difference not just for themselves but for their peers and the next generation,” explained Maura Kelly, Director of LEAP. 

Speaking at the launch, Aedhmar Hynes said, "Today we are faced with as many barriers in the workplace as previous generations have. This isn’t just about women promoting women and women at the top making the right decisions on behalf of other women.  This is about being inclusive, spreading understanding of the challenges and the barriers for the promotion of women.  It’s about everyone, [both men and women] working together to a common goal: Gender equality. It is programs such as this that can make a difference.”

Tackling poverty and homelessness   

An important aspect of the program is LEAP in the Community, which inspires women to channel their collective skills towards solving real-world social problems – making the New York City community better for all.

This year, LEAP partnered with two not-for-profit organizations, The Dwelling Place NY and Self Help Africa USA, for the LEAP in the Community Program. Each organization was paired with a small team of LEAP Participants to help them expand their core mission through the development of new strategies.  The projects will be ongoing during the five-month program, with an impact to be showcased during the closing reception in June 2020. 

The women and advisors at the LEAP Launch on February 4, 2020

The women and advisors at the LEAP Launch on February 4, 2020

Both organizations are championing causes toward poverty eradication, aimed at empowering women and strengthening community ties. Self Help Africa USA is a leading international development charity with an expertise in small-scale farming and growing women-farm businesses, dedicated to ending hunger and poverty in rural Africa. The Dwelling Place of NY is a transitional residence for homeless women in Manhattan. Its mission is to offer safe shelter and individualized care to homeless women as they build a sustainable, self-supported lifestyle.

“The social impact component of the program is what separates LEAP from other leadership programs.  It enables the opportunity for action learning for the women while simultaneously doing good in the community – it’s a win-win,” said Jennifer Scanlon, Co-Director of LEAP.

Read more: Calling all ex-pats - what you need to know about Irish finance

LEAP 2020 program launch speaker: Board Director, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman & PR Week Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee, Aedhmar Hynes.LEAP