– Organisers all set for another successful award ‘season’
WHEN Michelle A. Nicholas met Lyndell Danzie-Black for the first time at a conference back in 2017, neither of them had any clue that the friendship to follow would result in a “sisterhood” so strong that, together, they’d use their respective businesses to make a difference in the lives of dozens of women across Guyana through the formation of the prestigious 25 Influential Women Leaders Award.
The co-creators of ‘25’ could not help but be drawn together as they listened to each other share stories in which they had a mutual interest, particularly regarding women and leadership in the private sector.
Both passionate about advocating for women, children, and a host of issues affecting society, they knew right from the start that joining forces would result in something great. Having held the first ‘25’ event in May 2019, Nicholas, a Guyanese, and Black, a Saint Lucian, are all set to launch the fourth edition tomorrow (January 23). The duo realised in the beginning that many women in Guyana were doing great things, but they were not being recognised for their achievements.
“We realised that there was not a platform that celebrated the achievements of women regardless of where they worked. Some of them are doing great things in communities, schools, in homes for the elderly, and many other spheres of life, including CEOs, co-founders, and managers,” Black shared in an interview with Pepperpot Magazine.
So she and Nicholas felt that if they created a platform where the public could nominate women who are achieving great things in their communities, “then we will be able to celebrate women in the way that they should be celebrated.”
When the event was conceptualised, the two women used their businesses, The NICO Consulting Inc. (TNC) and Cerulean Inc., to sponsor the awards, but later began seeking out partners within the corporate world to support their vision. Having managed to secure sponsorship from larger companies internationally and locally, the duo continues to attract more sponsors in Guyana, some of whom have already verbalised their interest in supporting the event.
This time around, the duo decided to start their planning earlier than usual for the ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, June 10, at the Pegasus Hotel and is anticipating an increase in nominations. “We see women as the front liners in the work throughout the pandemic; we’ve seen them show up in such a strong way,” Nicholas pointed out.
They will be live streaming on the Facebook page of ‘25’ at the launch tomorrow, where a link to the nomination form would be provided. That is said to be the easiest, quickest way to go about nominating someone. For those who cannot go online, printed copies of the form will also be available at various locations throughout the country.
MORE ABOUT THE NOMINATION AND JUDGING PROCESS
Nicholas and Black are not the judges. The judges for the June ceremony will be from the diaspora and in Guyana. “It is important for us to always pull ourselves out and allow others to be able to make those decisions,” Nicholas pointed out.
She advises the persons making the nominations to share enough details about their nominees as opposed to just a few lines. “The judge wants to know that person like you do, so give as much information as you can; sell the person’s story.”
THE WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME
Nicholas and Black have taken things a step further by launching the Women’s Leadership Programme, which is open to the 25 winners and all other nominated canidates. It’s a two-month programme launched in January 2022 that saw 12 women graduating last October.
“The Women Leadership Programme is a very competitive process. It is for women who are leading and ready to take the next step,” Black shared. Hence, just about anyone is not usually accepted; only those who are truly serious and ready to move to the level. On January 24, they are starting with their 2023 cohort.
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
Meanwhile, Nicholas is the Founder and CEO of The NICO Consulting Inc. (TNC), a boutique consulting firm specialising in strategy, operations, diversity equity and inclusion, marketing and public relations, non-profit management, and organisational transformation. With offices in Guyana, South America and New York, the company serves clients globally to optimise their business and improve operations while advancing their profile and accelerating organisational performance to gain the most attractive opportunities.
She has spent over two decades in various government, corporate and non-profit positions, including several leadership roles in the US and internationally. As the former SVP, Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Community Development for PCSB Bank, she served as a member of the Bank’s senior leadership team responsible for leveraging diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural competency as well as engaging the external community on issues of development to advance the organisation’s mission and business objectives. Nicholas is also the Principal of Nicholas Counseling Services and is the President of Sexual Assault and Family Education (SAFEGuyana).
Danzie-Black, on the other hand, is the Managing Director of Cerulean Inc. – a business development, corporate training and business consulting firm based in Guyana since 2012. A certified ILO International Trainer for Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB), Lyndell recently completed the WomenLead Institute/ExxonMobil – Global Women in Management Program.
Cerulean Inc. collaborates with ExxonMobil on their corporate citizenship mission and implements the Community and Youth Empowerment CSR Projects in Guyana. She provides corporate training for several businesses in Guyana and the region, as well as cross-culture training, executive coaching and mentorship for clients of international companies and organisations.