Amex Academy Alumni SummitAfter attending the American Express Leadership Academy in the fall, I felt energized and ready to implement all of the great tips, strategies and frameworks that we learned during the week-long boot camp. It has been five months since the program and although I have made some progress in my leadership goals, there is still more work to do and lots of room to grow. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be one of the 72 delegates to participate in the fourth annual American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit that took place April 16 – 17, 2018 in New York City.

Not only was this event an opportunity to continue the work we started during the academy, but it was also a chance to connect with other nonprofit leaders and alumni from around the world. The majority of delegates hailed from North America, but there were also representatives from Africa, Asia and Europe. Administrators from the arts comprised 11% of the alumni summit delegation. Other represented industries included youth and children, health, community development, economic empowerment, philanthropy and leadership development.

There were several panels and workshops during the two-day summit, which focused on the theme of Leadership in Times of Transition. Two that resonated with me include the ImprovNetworking workshop led by Marian Rich of Career Play, Inc. and Transforming Through Creative Collaboration led by Monica Kang of InnovatorsBox. Although different in topic and approach, both workshops challenged delegates to “step out of their comfort zones” and “think outside the box.”

Life and work may sometimes feel scripted with people asking the same questions and others providing well-rehearsed answers. As nonprofit managers, we may not have the time or resources to come up with new ideas or initiatives. We may have a tendency to choose solutions that have a proven track record. It’s less of an uphill battle to do what we’ve always done rather than fight for what is right or better.

As someone who is definitely guilty of this, I’m going to attempt to come from a place of “yes” and to encourage creativity in my daily routine. Instead of fearing failure, perhaps I will embrace the struggles I am facing as they may lead to better results. Above all, I am grateful to American Express and my organization for the opportunity to participate in the summit and am thankful to be part of this impressive, global network of leaders.

For more information about the American Express Leadership Academy, visit their website and follow the hashtag #amexleads on Twitter.

(Photo: Richard A. Brown of American Express introduces Dan Parks of the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Angela Fernandez of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights)

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