When Lola Adesgha learned about the African Leadership Group’s Leadership Africa program, she immediately saw it as a natural next step in her personal and professional development.
An IT professional who also runs the Iyi Foundation, a nonprofit focused on helping women and girls “actualize their dreams,” Lola is always seeking new connections to enhance her work, and “to effect positive change in my community.”
Iyi Foundation originally launched, Lola said, to provide assistance to female immigrants. Having worked in the IT world, she saw that women immigrants face more obstacles than men.
“Immigrants who come to this country, they come with some kind of survival story, and they see America as a land of opportunity,” she said. “But women in general, we face struggles. In IT, for example, in a lot of aspects you do not see much female representation.”
Lola, originally from Nigeria, came to the Denver area a decade ago. She said she sees her foundation work as a long-term, incremental approach to improving the prospects of immigrant women and girls. “Little drops of water can make an ocean,” is how she described her work.
Having attended a variety of ALG programs over the years, Lola was made aware of Leadership Africa by Founder and Executive Director Papa Dia. She was immediately intrigued. “I saw Leadership Africa as an opportunity to meet with different people from different walks of life, to learn about different backgrounds. I was interested in the growth and the skills that I could get from the programming.”
After two months, Lola said, the program is exceeding even her high expectations. “It has been mind-blowing, the kind of conversations we are able to have, and how well we have been able to get to know each other so quickly,” she said. “It has provided me with an opportunity to unlearn and relearn.”
Lola said she especially likes Leadership Africa’s structure, where every participant pairs off with a classmate as an ‘accountability partner.’ After every session, she said, all members of the class are encouraged to go out and practice the skills they have learned, “to improve upon yourself.”
Accountability partners check in with each other regularly to make sure they are putting in the time and effort to work on themselves.
Lola also had high praise for facilitators Effley Brooks and Emilie Gettliffe. Rather than lecturing to the group, she said, they act as true facilitators, allowing conversations to flow freely, and challenging participants to be honest and open with themselves and their classmates.
“That has given us the opportunity to network and know more about other people within the class,” Lola said.