MSH Nigeria Staffer Named "Emerging Leader" at Atlantic Dialogues

 {Photo Credit: Atlantic Dialogues}The 2015 "Emerging Leaders" at Atlantic DialoguesPhoto Credit: Atlantic Dialogues

Adaeze Umolu landed at the Casablanca Airport in Morocco on the October 28, filled with anticipation. It was her first time in the country.

As a technical advisor at MSH, Adaeze was one of 40 "emerging leaders" invited to participate in the 2015 Atlantic Dialogues, an annual gathering of 350 public- and private-sector leaders from around the Atlantic Basin.

"It was an honor to have been selected," she said. "These few days were fulfilling and memorable."

Launched in 2012, the three-day meeting in Marrakesh allows senior officials, business leaders, opinion shapers and others to discuss hot button issues including security, migration, economics, and energy. The emerging leaders also participated in a two-day program immediately preceding the conference. The conference and emerging leaders program were organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the OCP Policy Center.

The emerging leaders represented 22 countries on the four continents surrounding the Atlantic Basin —North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Participants included a foreign trade analyst with the Brazilian government, the deputy country manager of General Electric in Cote d'Ivoire, an operations analyst for the World Bank, and the co-founder of a company that uses GIS to solve business problems. Adaeze was the only participant from Nigeria.

Leadership sessions included a conversation with a fellow at the OCP Policy Center, a workshop about career growth and networking, and an exercise titled "Responding to a Pandemic in the Atlantic Space," during which participants simulated nations' responses to health and political crises and were challenged to think as leaders of that nation.

"This gave me a deeper understanding of how important it really is to strengthen underlying health systems so that countries can prevent crises like epidemics," said Adaeze. "These sessions added to my skills, and I will be applying these in my day-to-day work."

The conference encouraged a lively exchange of views between rising leaders and today's decision-makers, tackling issues that directly affect the Atlantic Basin. Several sessions related to Nigeria and to Africa as a whole, like "Gender, Conflict, and Security: Holistic Approaches to Building and Sustaining Peace." This discussion gathered about 25 participants to talk about gender as it relates to conflict, such as women's roles in restoring peace, barriers faced by young girls, 

[Adaeze and President Olusegun Obasanjo] {Photo Credit: Adaeze UmoluAdaeze and President Olusegun Obasanjo

and the policies necessary to correct these patterns. This session was especially relevant to MSH's recent INCH pilot, 'Improving Maternal Health Through Creative Processes by Adolescent Girls,' in northeastern Nigeria.

Her experience at Atlantic Dialogues was full of thrilling moments, said Adaeze, but the highlight of her week in Morocco was outside of the conference sessions.

"I got to meet Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria," she said.

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