An Interview with Co-Founder Ronda Carnegie
Connected Women Leaders (CWL) is primarily a resource hub, and in that spirit we want the biographies of our members to be informational about their individual work and the connections that CWL is strengthening for collective problem solving.
This week’s interview is with Ronda Carnegie, one of the three Connected Women Leader founders and managing partners. Read on to learn more about Ronda’s commitment to Connected Women Leaders and the importance of bringing voices from all backgrounds, geographies, and generations to the table in order to impact lasting change.
In the spirit of Connected Women Leaders, how did you all connect with each other prior to the creation of CWL?
Ronda co-founded Connected Women Leaders in part as a continuation of her work with Pat Mitchell creating TEDWomen, influenced by their shared interest in turning the lens on the stories of women and girls as architects of change to focus on how their ideas and innovations were shaping and reshaping the future.
As leaders Hafsat, Pat and I have all participated in programs at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. In 2017, we convened 25 female speakers from around the world at Bellagio to explore transformative leadership and collective action.
In 2019, Transformative Women Leaders morphed into Connected Women Leaders. CWL’s core mission is to highlight women leading change—in every industry, at every level, around the world—and converting vision into action.
Today, Connected Women Leaders is a resource hub with over 100 women contributing their ideas, resources, and insights. We’ve created an ecosystem of cooperation in the areas of global health, food security, climate justice, and feminist leadership.
You all come from different backgrounds and different experiences. What elements of your personal experience do you bring to Connected Women Leaders to make it into the resource that it is?
By embracing multiple points of view, organizations like Connected Women Leaders gain a more holistic—and realistic—understanding of the landscape. As co-founders, we have a shared focus and interest in women as change agents, innovators, and idea champions. As the world evolves, so does the opportunity to connect the community/work of women leaders.
Our team works together to create and strengthen new and existing relationships among participating leaders. My specific lens is on marketing and communications strategy thinking. I’m focused on how we engage in storytelling that captures the learnings so they can be further disseminated, amplifying the stories, ideas, and insights shared.
What about our present moment requires the launch of Connected Women Leaders; was there anything specific about ‘today’ that illuminated the need that Connected Women Leaders fills?
Yes. This is the decade of delivery. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) say that 2030 is a critical milestone. We all need to be laser-focused, fine tuning in the ‘now,’ and making sure that we are moving quickly towards these SDG goals.
For example, if you look at the McKinsey Report, it says it will take 257 years to close the gender gap. That’s just one element, and it’s too long. Like other female leaders I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies. We believe that women’s leadership is important—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.
We believe that women’s leadership is important—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.
What led you to designate the four priority areas climate health feminist activism and food security as the primary issues for the site based on the issues that we face as a society today?
We looked at these priority areas first as individual topics and then through the intersectionality of the topics. We started off with climate, then asked a question brought to us by Peggy Clark from the Aspen Institute through an exercise called, ‘We can if…’. We took each of the areas in question, used the ‘we can if’ exercise, and ultimately understood that we can create the most change through intersectionality.
If we look, for example, at food security, we can see its impact on health. If we look at climate, we see its impact on food security and we see its impact on health. In this sense they’re all connected.
In a world that has high noise to signal, we must make it easy for those around the world who want to participate to have access to resources and valuable information. This was an unmet need. We needed a tool that gives users the power to collaborate and discover the resources and assets available. A tool which shares progress on multiple organizations’ work. Collective impact works when the work of others can be seen, leveraged and connected.
When we are able to learn from each other and apply lessons across sectors and across borders we move as a united front, not in disparate parts.