MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy: reconnecting in times of social distancing

Launched in March 2018, the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy is developing leaders in the conservation sector, specifically supporting senior and young professionals from MAVA Foundation’s partner organisations. Delivered by Common Purpose and Mowgli Mentoring who are recognised and applauded experts in their respective fields, the academy has four cohorts (one French-speaking and three English-speaking); two have graduated, one is currently ongoing, and applications to apply for the fourth and final (English speaking) cohort will open in October.

Learn more about the participants’ experiences in this video and this blog article.

Back in February 2020, the third cohort of the MAVA Academy wished each other farewell after five intense days in Jordan, ushering a hopeful “see you in June in London” for what was meant to be their second face-to-face event. Since then, radical and unexpected changes took place, as we all learned to live in a new world, effected by COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been committed to continuing to provide virtual opportunities for leadership development and mentoring. These sessions have cemented our belief in the power of such experiences, creating a space for human connection and reflection: to share learning and challenges amidst confusion, and fears about the future.

With the June event postponed until November, it was crucial for the Academy Team to ensure that the third cohort maintained individual and group momentum as well as continuing to nurture their relationships with one another.

From Thursday, June 4th to Friday, June 5th, the Academy Team delivered a day and a half long virtual event. Throughout the five sessions, our participants:

  • developed intergenerational relationships and collaboration
  • revisited Leading Beyond Authority and explored how they are applying it
  • explored where they were in their mentoring relationships – sharing challenges they were going through as well as successes
  • took away ideas, strategies, resources and practices for sustaining themselves during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis
  • deepened their relationships across the diverse community of MAVA partners.

Each session provided a moment of pause, introspection and exchange. It was their moment to be vulnerable and open while also exercising peer support as they actively listened to each other’s experiences during this crisis. Amidst the sharing of hardships, the cohort was full of positivity, sharing moments of hope, laughter and fun.

With this momentum generated, our participants now feel energised, grateful and connected, ready to take on what lies ahead. In the coming months, we look forward to seeing their relationships develop further – as a learning community, and also as mentors and mentees. The senior professionals will continue to benefit from executive coaching and the cohort will gather once again, virtually, in September.

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