Live from the 2019 American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit

April 1, 2019

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Timothy J. McClimon, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility

5:30 PM EDT

...And the winner of the 2019 American Express Leadership Award is... Maco Yoshioka! 

From Tokyo, Japan, Maco is the founder and CEO of MadreBonita.  Maco leverages her experience in sports science as well as her personal experience with childbirth to support tens of thousands of mothers in Japan.

I had the opportunity to speak with Maco and hear more about her background and her thoughts on leadership.

What is your organization’s mission?
Our mission is to support parents after childbirth to make it easier and more enjoyable to start their family by providing postpartum education and fitness that helps them recover physical strength and mental stability. 

Why did you choose a career in the social purpose sector?
I was inspired to create this position when I found a blind spot during “postpartum care” in the Japanese maternal healthcare system after I had my baby. Given my background in sports science as well as my experience with childbirth, I thought I could give a voice to this issue.
This happened to fit in the social purpose sector. The more I pursued this career path, the more convinced I became that postpartum care is deeply important to help solve and prevent problems after childbirth, such as postpartum depression, child abuse, relationship stress, fewer women returning to the workforce, and declining birth rates.

What does leadership mean to you?
Effective leaders make a difference by combining talent with authenticity. Everyone has the talent; it’s just a matter of putting it to use.

How have you leveraged your experiences at the American Express Leadership Academy to drive change in your community?
I’ve applied technical methods that drove change, such as system thinking, customer experience and net promoter score. The encounters and networking with other social entrepreneurs was also very empowering and inspiring. 

How have you kept up with the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Network?
Getting to know each other during the Leadership Academy and sharing each other’s struggles and suffering made our bond stronger.  Even after the Academy, we have exchanged ideas and knowledge and have even collaborated on projects. I am now a member of the team of the collective impact project for women’s health and labor. Many of the members are alumni of the American Express Leadership Academy.

What about the sector’s future is keeping you up at night?
I am most concerned about ensuring that our society treats women with dignity and that their ideas and actions are appreciated.

Maco Yoshioka

As part of the award, MadreBonita will also receive a $25,000 grant. Maco plans to use this funding to support mothers who tend to be socially isolated. 

We wish Maco the best as she continues her leadership journey!  For more inspiring leadership stories, visit LeaderStories.org.


3:50 PM EDT

The American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit is in full swing! In case you’re tuning in for the first time, we just finished a riveting conversation between Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, and Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Live Stream

The world is becoming increasingly complex, and navigating this complexity is critical when trying to engage various stakeholders to help solve social problems. Few understand this challenge better than Bill. He not only founded Ashoka nearly 40 years ago; he pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship. With Bill at the helm, Ashoka has brought systems-change to the world’s most urgent social challenges and has had a profound influence on changing national policies.

In front of a riveted audience of talented, emerging nonprofit and social purpose leaders, Bill shared some important lessons from his storied career:

  • Ethics is paramount. He praises his former employer McKinsey & Company for offering him an incredible apprenticeship. It taught him how institutions – the world – works. However, the most powerful lesson he received there was to never compromise on his principles. This lesson continues to drive him today.
  • Exercise command, counterproposal and control. As the former assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Carter Administration, Bill noted that the old model was to draft a series of regulations and enforce them. This has changed in today’s world, in which we have rules, but others may come in and create a better system (to combat pollution and other environmental hazards, for example) as long as they generate the same results. Calling this new way of thinking “command, counterproposal and control,” Bill suggests that this approach can open up economic incentives to the innovators who are creating these new, possibly better systems, and facilitate meaningful change.
  • Let cognitive empathy guide you. The foundational skill that all changemakers need is cognitive empathy. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place and see their perspective. And, emerging leaders and changemakers need a higher rate of cognitive empathy each year; they can use this to contribute to a model of new leadership and assemble teams of motivated people to elevate individual performance and deliver the maximum impact collectively.
  • Keep pushing. The rate of change and interconnectivity is increasing exponentially, and we need to be ready to engage with a myriad of new stakeholders at any time. When this seems particularly daunting, Stacy questioned, “How can we find it within ourselves to continue to push for change?” Bill countered, “How can we not? How can you live your life without experiencing love, respect and action? We have to see the bigger picture, the problems that face us, and change together.”

To hear more, be sure to watch the replay of Bill and Stacy’s conversation available at leaderstories.org.


12:00 PM EDT

Welcome to our fifth annual American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit!

We’re convening the summit for the first time in Washington, D.C., a major hub for nonprofits and other organizations and associations dedicated to social good.

And, I’m excited to report that this year we’ve drawn a record number of Leadership Academy alumni from around the globe! Over the next two days, these talented emerging nonprofit and social purpose leaders will connect with and learn from prominent organizational transformation experts and the sector’s most successful leaders.

We’ve made it our mission to train future nonprofit leaders since we started the Leadership Academy 11 years ago. To date, we’ve hosted more than 130 Leadership Academy programs across 12 countries, training more than 4,300 nonprofit and social sector leaders.

This training is more crucial now than ever as the nonprofit sector continues to grow. In the U.S. alone, there are now 1.6 million 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations – the third largest workforce in the country behind retail and manufacturing. Just two years ago, the nonprofit sector accounted for 12.5 million jobs, which is 10.2 percent of the nation’s private sector workforce. It doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon, yet a recent study found that just 20% of nonprofit leaders find they have the skills to meet their goals.

Which brings us here today. What will participants take away from the summit? Our alumni will gain insights into some of the challenges facing the nonprofit industry and how to overcome them to achieve success and enrich their communities.

Not to be missed is our conversation between Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka and Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy in a session called Engaging All: Strategies for Thriving in Complexity. Offering a real-life example of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s complex society, Bill will share his extensive background in the social sector and share his tips for effective stakeholder engagement.

Join us for the livestream of this conversation at 3:30 p.m. EDT on LeaderStories.org and be sure to send Bill and Stacy your questions on Twitter during the session using #amexleads. The Chronicle of Philanthropy will also host a special Facebook Live preview of the session today at 2:45 p.m. EDT.

Live Stream

This conversation will culminate with the annual 2019 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award. Our outstanding nominees are among the most talented leaders in the nonprofit sector today.

There’s much more to come throughout the day so keep watching Leaderstories.org for timely updates and a real-time reveal of our Leadership Academy Award winner at 4:30 p.m. EDT!

If you have a comment or question, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog post with friends and colleagues.

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