Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
Carolyne Kamau, Kenya, Cohort 1
I was heavily involved in the arts as a dancer and as an actress in a community-based youth group and an international dance movement respectively. I was in my fourth year of undergraduate in Law School at the University of Nairobi. I held a few leadership positions as the organizing secretary, chairlady, choreographer and a lead facilitator. I was also actively engaged in peer education, an avenue through which I practiced most of my leadership skills to become a sought after facilitator because of my sense of understanding, self-drive, proactivity, and innovation. This led to more opportunities to be at the helm of making things happen. Whether it was pitching an idea successfully, mobilizing crowds or even creating structures, I did all these with ease and was pretty much convinced I had figured out my leadership game.
In July 2015, I joined other determined and grounded leaders from across East and Central Africa in the first cohort of the YALI RLC EA. While my expectations for the program were high, I had not foreseen the immense transformation joining the program would have on me. My whole concept of leadership was flipped upside down, my pride was dealt a big blow and everything I thought I knew about leadership all over sudden appeared rudimentary at best. Through the content taught to us, the occasional motivational talks and the overall methodology of the program, I immediately realized that my leadership style lacked alignment, clarity and a stronger sense of conviction. Each activity held, discussion hosted, talk given or even a seemingly simple video shared to us came loaded with a lot of learnings that contributed immensely to a journey of self-reflection, alignment, and clarity.
The program focuses a lot on personal leadership with carefully thought out content and methodology that allows for reflection and experiential learning. A great lesson I carried with me after the program was a new mindset or as we call it at YALI RLC EA, a paradigm shift that has redefined how I carry about my everyday life. While taking the program, I was interning at a reputable law firm as would be expected of any determined law student. The idea was to go through the career path of an advocate and climb through the corporate ladder to wherever it would get me. However, I was not convinced that is what I wanted for myself and this got in the way of living to my truest, fullest self which is helping others discover and live a purposeful life through coaching, mentorship and facilitating their learning. The program gave me an opportunity to ask myself brave questions, lay my vulnerability bare and use the tools at my disposal to craft a personal leadership transformation journey that has redefined my leadership style. The decisions I made then contributed to being where I am now.
I currently work with Amani Institute, a content partner with YALI RLC EA and one of my most interesting roles is facilitating at the Center for the Civic Leadership track. My role involves coaching the participants and guiding them to discover and embrace a growth mindset that will see them do things more effectively, aim for continuous learning, master resilience in the face of the myriad leadership challenges and more importantly align themselves as leaders. The most intriguing elements of my role emanate from the success stories I receive from the participants. One of the fulfilling moments for me as a YALI RLC EA facilitator is guiding participants to work through a design challenge using the design thinking methodology. It is interesting how the participants at the start are skeptical about their capability to apply a new methodology to problem-solving and at the end generate very innovative solutions. Most of my encounters have translated to coachable moments where I am continually guiding the participants through their transformation journey even after they graduate from the program.
To any young leader out there thinking hard about joining the program, it may be flamboyant on paper but once you get in, work has to be done. Here you learn the difference between influencing through hashtags and actually leading for impact.