South African Facilitators Share Insights in Global Exchange

leadership development partnership for possibility peer learning for faciliators racial healing resource redistribution Jul 25, 2022

When Dr. Louise Van Rhyn returned to her native South Africa after many years abroad, she was nearly overwhelmed by its racial, resource, and education challenges. Eighty percent of public schools struggled with insufficient resources and overwhelming dysfunction. Instead of feeling powerless, she decided to take action.  

So Louise, who holds a doctorate in Complex Social Change, created a visionary program to activate leadership, mobilize citizenship, and center schools in community.  Her yearlong cross-sector partnership program, which pairs business leaders and school principals for mutual learning and transformation, has won awards and impacted thousands since it was created in 2010. 

Some principals were skeptical at first. They predicted that predominantly white business leaders who saw themselves as “solution providers” would enact new forms of colonization by telling them what to do. What happened instead was the subject of last week's lively GLEN dialogue From Patriarchy to Partnership: Learning with Colleagues from South Africa. 

A full video recording of this event is available here.

Through a yearlong immersive experience, and with skillful facilitator support, executives reconsidered what being helpful means, developed listening skills, and learned to hold space for others to become their best selves — and find their own solutions. Facilitators too were transformed by their participation. “I discovered there’s nothing I need to do more than to embrace my authentic self, and showing up that way is my greatest gift to others,” said facilitator Andile Kwakweni.  (See above clip for more of his comments.) 

“This program challenges us to reconsider how we approach development in general – and leadership development in particular,” Louise said. “With such massive challenges, we can’t afford to limit this kind of learning to executive training. We need to create environments where everyone is invited to contribute their gifts.”  She may as well have been talking about the United States; her innovative program offers an inspiring template for healing in our own communities. 

What happens when you show up as your most authentic self? Stop by the GLEN Café this Friday and find out!  And add [email protected] to your contacts to ensure you receive news of upcoming events like these.