UC Davis News: APRU, UC Davis and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Launch Second Cohort of Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership Mentoring Program
February 18, 2022
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Original post on UC Davis Global Affairs

The University of California, Davis, and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) launched the second cohort of the Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership (APWiL) Mentoring Program, kicking off with 87 participants, nearly three times the number during its pilot year. The program is focused on providing mentoring to aspiring leaders from 25 institutions in the APRU network.

Now in its second year, the APRU APWiL Mentoring Program offers leaders—both women and men—at APRU universities an opportunity to grow the pipeline of aspiring women leaders, increase awareness of challenges that aspiring women leaders face within the region, and introduce global and intercultural dimensions to leaders across the APRU network and beyond. The pilot program in 2020-21 served 30 participants from 10 universities.

The program is led by co-chairs Sabrina Lin, senior advisor to the president at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and Joanna Regulska, vice provost and dean of Global Affairs and a professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at UC Davis. Along with Global Affairs at UC Davis and HKUST, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UC Davis is a co-leader of the initiative. This collaboration is also supported by Jackie Wong, director of network and student programs, and Anya Wong, program officer, from the APRU International Secretariat.

“The first APWiL Mentoring Program cohort was filled with wonderful connections between mentors and mentees. Now, with almost triple the number of enthusiastic participants in our 2021-22 cohort, we have a tremendous opportunity to continue forming a lasting collaborative network of women global leaders in academia. It is critical for the empowerment of women across the world to engage in intercultural conversations and recognize the commonality of challenges, but also of great opportunities as showcased by the participants. This program aims to create both formal and informal spaces where meaningful dialogues can take place,” said Regulska.

A Framework For Success

Jessica Bissett Perea, one of the mentees from the first cohort in 2020-21, chose to participate in the APWiL program to explore opportunities for leadership that could help her in her future pursuits. Her meaningful connections have helped further her understanding of the various leadership structures and practices throughout organizations. “I was extremely fortunate to be paired with an experienced and dynamic mentor, Dr. Yvonne Lim Ai Lian (Health Sciences), Director of International Relations and Professor of Parasitology. Her thoughtful and supportive mentorship and guidance helped me to better appreciate the densities of university leadership styles and how these styles do (or do not) align with Indigenous leadership styles. I am very pleased to report that I have significantly expanded my network of women leaders,” said Perea.

Building on the success of the inaugural program, APWiL has the potential this year to influence even more participants like Perea. Organizers look to increased programming to give them ample opportunity to encourage networking and dialogue between mentees and mentors.

“The pilot program this past year was well received by the mentors and mentees. I am thrilled to see the tremendous growth in the number of universities supporting the program, and a three-times increase in the number of mentor and mentee participants,” said Lin. “With continued efforts in our matching process and in adding more webinars and networking activities, I look forward to a rewarding experience again this year.”

The increased growth within the second cohort led organizers to return to some of the infrastructure used in the planning of the first cohort. The individual matching process used this year to pair mentors and mentees is the same method as last year. They brought back a template for a mentoring agreement, allowing mentees to outline goals to help mentors focus on areas of interest and development. Organizers also took significant learnings from their year of hosting remote workshops. Building on this framework, the APWiL team is already seeing connections form across the globe.

“We’re off to a great start,” said Chelsey Hawes, study abroad enrollment and operations officer in Global Affairs and program manager of the APWiL Mentoring Program. “Mentors and mentees have met at least once so far and joined us for our orientation program and first seminar, Women’s Representation in Higher Education in the Pacific Rim, in partnership with the American Council on Education and the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College. During this seminar, we heard from scholars from Australia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia on the commonalities and differences in barriers to women’s advancement in leadership and how each country is addressing or not addressing these barriers.”

These partnerships between universities, mentors, mentees, scholars and others are the heart of APWiL. For this program, success is greater than the number of participants and events; success is rooted in connections and the positive impact of forming networks.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the APWiL program and to be affiliated with other universities in the U.S. and around the world. I believe in the power of collaborative networks, working together for common goals, and connecting across boundaries for mutual advancement. We have so many commonalities across the globe that can unite us. This program provides women with opportunities to be in community with other scholars from other schools, to be encouraged, and to be equipped with additional tips for success that will contribute to their ability to be change agents within their spaces. When we are engaged in work as an international community, we have a chance to see the world differently, to enhance our understanding, and to be more comprehensive in our own jobs, as we apply the new, and broader world perspectives that programs like APWiL provide,” said Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UC Davis.

To further support the second cohort, APWiL leadership has grown too. Kimberly Bellows, intercultural programs coordinator in Global Affairs, joined the team as the program coordinator for the APWiL Mentoring Program.

“I’m very excited to be supporting the APWiL Mentoring Program as it begins its second year,” she said. “From attending the pilot program’s graduation ceremony, I know how impactful the program was on that first cohort, and I’m looking forward to supporting the second cohort’s journey. We’ve heard from current mentors and mentees that their first meetings have gone well, and it’s truly inspiring to see their goals and plans for the coming year.”

Carrying The Momentum Forward

The success of APWiL continues to spread as its influence extends beyond its participants. Fulfilling its promise of inspiring leadership, the program’s mentors and mentees are having an effect on other connections and communities.

“The impact that the program has had on both mentees and mentors is beyond what I could have imagined,” said Hawes. “Following the first cohort, there were mentors and mentees who started women in leadership groups on their own campuses modeled after APWiL, mentees who held networking events and workshops on DEI as it pertains to women’s gender equity at their institution, and a mentor and mentee who formalized the relationship between their two institutions through an agreement where they held a monthly seminar series for folks at both institutions during the fall term.”

Time will tell what the 2021-22 cohort will be inspired to develop next. Nearly 90 participants from 25 institutions include six UC Davis faculty and administrators:

  • Cynthia Carter CHING, University of California, Davis (mentor)
  • Jennifer CURTIS, University of California, Davis (mentor)
  • Lisa TELL, University of California, Davis (mentor)
  • Norkamari Shakira BANDOLIN, University of California, Davis (mentee)
  • Christine MCBETH, University of California, Davis (mentee)
  • Cecilia TSU, University of California, Davis (mentee)
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