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Interview: Andrés Thompson

The Kellogg Foundation has always sought to develop leadership, primarily among youngsters. This is why it has launched the Leadership and Social Development Program for Latin America and the Caribbean, in Brazil, Bolivia and Guatemala.  The aim of the program is to foster leadership qualities during seven seminars that will address the experiences, challenges and decision-making involved in social change. The program began in June 2003 and will have beenbe  completed inby  February 2004, with the participation of 20 youngsters from each country. It addresses both local and global, and urban and rural issues, which are aimed at finding solutions for local problems. To speak about this pioneer program, we have invited Andrés Thompson, the Program Director director of programming for Latin America and the Caribbean, who supervises this part of the program for the Foundation.

What is the significance of this program?
The program focuses on shaping the future leaders of projects sponsored by the Foundation in its three priority regions. It aims to develop the role of these leaders at a local level, adapting its syllabus to the characteristics of each region and sealing partnerships with  local organizations that help implement the program. One aspect that sets it apart from the rest is its focus. Leadership programs all too often concentrate on providing the tools for better management, on assessment, communication, etc. Others concentrate too much on knowledge, the concept of leadership. Generally speaking, neither one guides people, provides a context, considers people’s own backgrounds. The significance of the Leadership Program is that it incorporates all three approaches: the person, the concept and the methods.

What is the advantage of having partnerships with local institutions?
The main advantage is that, because they are already active in the areas where the program  has been set up, they are far more knowledgeable about the region and its problems, they already have contacts and they know how best to take advantage of all the available resources. Partnerships facilitate our work and make it more effective. Another advantage is that these institutions can also learn to set up their own leadership programs.

What are the objectives of the program?
To generate a critical mass of people who are aware of the importance of shaping leaders for social projects, so they can train others and gain access to more management materials, while also taking on a broader vision and understanding of their role in local development. This is fundamental if we are to make progress with our programs and share our experiences.

How many people does the program benefit?
It currently benefits, directly, 20 people in each of the three priority regions. Each person operates in their own specific area, making it easier to share their newly acquired knowledge.

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