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Nelson mayor awarded global women in leadership fellowship


Newly re-elected Nelson mayor Rachel Reese has been awarded one of 25 fully-funded fellowships for women political leaders around the world as part of the Vital Voices (VV) Engage programme for 2019-2020 run by the Vital Voices Global Partnership.

VVEngage is a Vital Voices signature fellowship supporting outstanding women political leaders making and influencing policy across the globe. The aim of the fellowship is to increase the capacity, decision-making power and effectiveness of women leaders in public life.

Mayor Reese is the first New Zealander to be selected.

The fellowship connects participants to a global network of peers and mentors, such as current and former female heads of state with the Council of Women World Leaders, with whom they can brainstorm and share challenges and best practices.
The fellowship curriculum includes ten months of inspiring and rigorous in-person and online courses in topics such as leadership, strategic communications, political strategy and governance. Fellows acquire specific skills to achieve their goals and advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in their communities.
“It’s great to see Mayor Reese being chosen as one of 25 women from around the world to participate in this programme,” says President – National Council of Women, Vanisa Dhiru. “We look forward to her helping advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals locally, with support of this global network and platform.”

“As the first New Zealander to be awarded this prestigious Fellowship, it is a great achievement for Rachel, not only as Mayor of Nelson, but also as a female leader within Aotearoa,” says Olivia Hall, Chair of Ngāti Rārua. “The international leadership connections she will make, the up-skilling she will get and the focus on advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, will pay great dividends for Rachel and the ongoing work that she is doing as a woman of influence within Whakatu and Aotearoa.”

“I am pleased that Mayor Reese has been recognised with this prestigious fellowship,” says Miriana Stephens, Wakatū Incorporation director and programme director for Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy. “This is not just an opportunity for Mayor Reese and Nelson City Council, but for the whole of Te Tauihu as we take steps towards transformative change across our communities.

“At Wakatū, we understand the importance of leadership development, as it’s at the heart of our success and growth as a family business. This fellowship is an example of Whakatū, Nelson being recognised on the global stage, and it enhances our reputation as a destination for innovation and transformational leadership. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Mayor Reese to take our story to the world.”

Chair of the Cawthron Institute Board of Directors and the Nelson Regional Development Agency Meg Matthews said that the mayor’s achievement is significant not only for the mayor personally but for female leaders in the Nelson Tasman region. “It is an exciting time to be a female leader in our region,” says Meg Matthews. “We have a strong cohort of women in governance and senior leadership positions in Te Tauihu. The mayor is a role model for existing and future women leaders and this fellowship is an important and significant accolade for the mayor and our region.”

“What a great achievement, congratulations must go to Rachel for being acknowledged through this fellowship,” says CEO of the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce, Ali Boswijk. “A wonderful opportunity for her personally and also for Nelson City, to have our Mayor working and collaborating with this impressive line-up of political leaders from around the world. With so many complex issues facing local, and central, government at this time, it will be invaluable to tap in to the wider expertise of this group and bring that learning back to the region.”

Ms Reese says that she is humbled to receive the fellowship and greatly looks forward to using the experience to enhance her leadership of the Nelson City Council and to contribute to her ongoing goal of creating a leadership pipeline for women in Nelson and in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I am very honoured to receive the fellowship and believe that it will bring great value to the Council and the community that I serve,” says Rachel Reese. “The experience will provide a wonderful opportunity to establish a truly global network of women political leaders which will provide benefits for our city for many years to come.”

Mayor Reese’s participation in the programme is fully funded by the fellowship and by herself personally. Fellows attend two 10-day block programmes in the USA and undertaken online training as part of a programme of activities that concludes in May 2020.

“I will continue to be fully engaged as Nelson mayor while I am participating in the fellowship programme with the as yet to-be-named deputy mayor as my delegated authority in Nelson as is usual when I am overseas.

“Our community has just given its firm endorsement and support for women taking on political leadership roles in greater numbers than ever around our Council table. I believe that this fellowship is recognition of the value our global community places on its women leaders and will help equip us to collectively face challenges, such as climate change, that are impacting on us all.”

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