The U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program is one of world sport’s most sought-after female business leader’s professional development opportunities. Every year emerging leaders from every corner of the world work side-by-side with top female executives in the American sports industry during their month in the United States. Not only do these female emerging leaders gain valuable business and management skills through the program, but they construct strategic plans with their mentors. While their action plans specifically address different needs, they share the goal of creating sports opportunities for underserved women and girls back in their home communities.
Now in its fourth year, this program supports the United States global commitment toward advancing the rights and participation of women and girls around the world, using sports as a vehicle towards greater opportunity and inclusion.
This year The US State Department sponsored two New Zealand women athletes Shanelle Barrett and Julie Paterson. Julie Patterson is the Netball Northern CEO in New Zealand and during the program she will be mentored by the CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Deborah Slaner Larkin, who will provide her with valuable skills, experience, and access to networks that can lead to future opportunities back in New Zealand. Shanelle Barrett was an aspiring Olympic triathlon participant, but due to illness became a qualified technical official for the sport of triathlon in New Zealand and in 2012 she was selected as part of the officiating ream for the London Olympics.
During her time in the United States, Shanelle wants to learn new strategies for working in a multicultural environment to promote diversity and inclusivity. Although she has been in event management for 15 years, she feels there is more to learn and ways to scale the sport both in access, marketing, and promotions. Shanelle also hopes to gain greater insight into mentoring programs for women – as athletes, officials, and professionals in the sports field – to propel women of all abilities forward in a unified effort.