Empower women. Eliminate poverty.


Leaders Learn with Philip Isely Leaders in Action

Leaders participate in a team exercise during training.

Leaders participate in a team exercise during training.

A leader in action aspires to learn and improve. In Guatemala, Friendship Bridge employees undertook that challenge and learned that growth and hard work are investment opportunities. Nine participants benefited from their involvement in the inaugural cohort for the Philip Isely Leaders in Action Program.

The program is made possible by the support of Eli Isely in the name of her late husband Philip Isely. Philip co-founded Vitamin Cottage and began his business selling door-to-door. Over the years, his business grew organically into a large corporation supporting several stores. Philip was a successful and inspiring example of a micro-entrepreneur who became a successful business and community leader. It is therefore very fitting that this unique staff leadership program bear his name.

Eli, a long-time patron who pledged a $15,000 gift to develop and support the program, believes that investing in leadership is an appropriate tribute to her late husband. “Philip believed that the growth of good leaders was a worthwhile cause,” Eli says. “Leaders in Action is a great investment in the future of Friendship Bridge.” Eli served on the Planning Committee for the Building Bridges Gala and continues to give her time and energy in supporting our mission in Guatemala.

Employees taking training included loan officers, branch managers, office managers and program staff. Twelve months of activities and classes were scheduled, including full-day seminars and quarterly meetings with the entire group. Topics such as coaching, time management, organizational culture and leadership were addressed. Book discussions were also included as the students applied new concepts to their jobs.

Mentoring from a senior participant was key to learning different perspectives on work challenges. As each learner progressed, they also worked on a group assignment and an individual project. The group project focused on improving operational self-sufficiency while individuals learned how to approach problems with solutions and leadership skills.

Karen Reyes works as an Accounting Coordinator. She was excited to report that she “discovered skills and qualities that I did not know I had.”

This testimony of an empowered woman is just one of many successful outcomes that the Leaders in Action program produced. Two employees were promoted – and in May, a new cohort was formed and training is underway again. Congratulations to all our Guatemalan staff who completed and are currently taking the training – you are all leaders who are empowering our clients!