WEST's Ten-Month Leadership Development Program
Leading for Impact: A Journey of Self-Discovery, Career Success, and Community Contribution



The intention of the program is to develop women in their STEM careers as leaders so that they consistently make a difference in the organizations they serve and in the world.


Core to the program is that each participant collaboratively creates a ten-month impossible project that makes either a societal or organizational impact. The design, development, and implementation of an impossible project serves as a laboratory for learning leadership development.


 The structure of the program:


  • Two women leaders advise a cohort of ten women STEM professionals seeking to develop their leadership skills over ten-months
  • The cohorts of twelve meet every month


 The cohorts will be made up of early and mid- career women. Click on their names below to read their Bios:



Elaine Crowley - Leadership Development Program Coordinator

Alison Taunton-Rigby

Dalia Cohen


Catherine Mesner


Cindy Kuppens

Elisabeth Johansen

Elizabeth Levy


Elisabeth Piquet

Enku Kebede


Additionally, each of the ten members of the cohort will mentor college students majoring in STEM fields, so that the participants learn how to mentor. Participants will also be sharing their impossible projects with their mentees, inspiring them to take on projects for impact that may seem impossible.


 Each cohorts and their ten mentees (22) will meet twice during the ten months to build deeper relationships and share what they are learning about:


  • Implementing their impossible projects
  • Being a mentor
  • Being mentored


 The impossible project that each participant takes on can be one that they are already engaged with at work, or one that they will launch at work, every work related project would be designed to make an organizational impact. Alternatively the participants can engage with a project outside of work that will make a societal impact.


Criteria for the impossible project:


  • It has to seem impossible to deliver
  • It has to have a clear outcome that has impact (societal or organizational)
  • It has to be completed in 10 months
  • It has to be a collaborative endeavor (cannot be done alone)
  • It has to have a sponsor and other stakeholders that participants will engage with
  • If is a project that has already been started it has to be less than 25% complete
Learning Outcomes

Women STEM professionals will be developed as leaders. This will be accomplished through the development of designing and implementing their impossible project, what they are learning from their project, the monthly leadership development circle meetings, and by mentoring other women.

 Each Participant will:

  • Assess their leadership strengths and gaps
  • Establish a baseline of leadership skills and abilities
  • Design a roadmap to bridge the gap in their leadership skills and abilities
  • Create measureable results for the ten-month program:Learn to develop and engage others in the development of a vision for their project
    • What will be accomplished in their jobs as a result of developing their leadership skills and abilities?
    • The impact and measurable results their organizational or societal project will have
    • The impact they will have on their peer circle
    • The impact they will have mentoring women junior to them
  • Learn “Innovative Project Methodology” to design and implement their projects
  • Create a strategy map that enables them to think about the approaches they might take to implement their project and priorities
  • Determine the factors in their current environment that will support or inhibit their ability to implement their project
  • Learn how to influence others without authority
  • Learn how to navigate the landscape of their organization to ensure success
  • Lean how to network so that they can engage others and get support for their project
  • Practice the “pitch” for talking with and engaging others in their project
  • Develop structures and processes for helping them keep their project moving forward
  • Learn how to market and make their projects visible
  • Practice and learn how to successfully mentor another

Outline for the 10 sessions:
Session 1 - Orientation

Prework: My Default Brand:  Ask for 4 words describing you from one person from each of these parts of your life:  peer, family, supervisor, colleague from volunteering or community activity.  Review your lists prior to the orientation program.  What was surprising?  What was missing?

  • Description of program and agreements
  • Self- assessment
  • Strengths and gaps
  • Development plan
  • Project criteria
  • Ideas for project (demonstration)

Homework: Identify topic for your impossible project 

Session 2 - Innovative Project Methodology

Create/ formulate your impossible project by learning an Innovative Project methodology and process




Session 3 - Change Management & Mentoring


Assess any barrier to project implementation.  Dealing with promises and breakdowns.  Mentoring – What and how to


Homework:  Connect with your Mentee


Session 4 - Strategic Thinking

Utilize Systems Thinking for seeing the big picture and unintended consequences of the project. Begin to identify impact of the project.




Session 5 - Progress Meeting

The entire circle of 22 (cohort and mentees) gather to ask, What are we learning? What is the gap? What do we need to learn? How has the Prototype changed? Share the project with your mentee.

Session 6 - Working Session

Tap your peers' expertise re your project.

Session 7 - Navigating Your Organization & Influencing Without Authority

How do you get things done when you're not in charge? How do you build and tap your internal network to gather support for your project?

Session 8 - The Pitch

How to pitch your project? Network to gain buy-in and visibility for the project.

Session 9 - Working Session

What is missing to make the project a WOW? How has the prototype changed? What results will be produced?

Session 10 - What's Happened?

All cohorts and mentees complete a self-assessment. What did you set out to accomplish? What got accomplished? What did you learn about leadership? Share projects, the results, and its impact. Mentees: What value have you gained by participating





STEM women professionals will meet with their cohorts monthly and with the women they are mentoring monthly as well.

The program builds a network of mentoring, personal and leadership development.

This program is only open to WEST members.

You must be able to attend one of the two orientation dates to be part of the program. 

Date, Time, and Location:  
September 2012 to June 2013

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 (6:00 PM - 9:00 PM) at 175 Wyman Street  Waltham, MA 02451
Thursday, September 27, 2012 (6:00 PM - 9:00 PM) at Whitehead Institute  9 Cambridge Center  Cambridge, MA 02142

MAP 175 Wyman Street  Waltham, MA 02451

MAP Whitehead Institute

Early-Career Women: $500; Mid-career Women: $500

Cancellation Policy:
All programs are non-refundable.

To Register



WEST would like to thank the sponsors for their generous support of this event!


If you are a student looking for financial assistance to attend this event, please visit www.stayinma.com.