The GATHER Fellowship is designed to support a cohort of changemakers from around the world as they develop innovative solutions to the conflicts that surround them. The Fellowship offers project support, skill-building sessions, networking opportunities, and a learning community to accompany them through the trials and travails of entrepreneurship.
Pods are even smaller clusters within this community—a “home base” comprising of four Fellows and an advisor. These four Fellows may be more closely aligned, either due to geography or area of focus, and can workshop together the myriads of challenges that they may face.
After the kickoff incubator (wherein the pods had an opportunity to meet daily over the course of the five-day program in Sweden), the pods meet virtually every month, allowing Fellows a more intimate setting to present challenges and gain support, either through a lens of personal or professional growth, sustainability, or visibility. Throughout the course of the Fellowship, each Fellow will have three opportunities to have their particular challenges workshopped by the group.
The pods utilize a framework from the Harvard Kennedy School’s ‘Adaptive Leadership Model,’ which is designed to quickly turn a group of peers into ‘project-consultants’ enabling the presenter to gain a set of rapid-fire insights and new perspectives on the issues underlying their work.
But what does this look like in real life? Below, our pod leaders share a few moments that exemplify the transformative power of the pods.
“It has become frustratingly difficult for a female Fellow to promote her work, which focuses on gender equality, in her country whose government agencies don’t acknowledge gender discrimination—despite international backing for her project from agencies like UNICEF. Our pod examined this challenge from different angles. But what was incredible is that this was not a group of women, banding together frustrated by the same injustice. It is a peer group of men, frustrated to hear how their female peer is being treated and her important work is being undermined. The men dug deep—calling on their own experience, networks, and privilege as males who grew up in patriarchal societies—to explore different ways they can support her in putting gender equality back on the agenda.”
“This is not a work group; this is the support system we need to do insane work against all odds. There is a feeling of family with a deep sense of structure. But you can’t be a family without acknowledgement. We wanted to see each other in our success, failure, learning, or pain … before the intellect kicked in. So we added a time in our solutions method to be human and reflect emotionally on the challenges we hear from each other. And that could be what pods are all about; they are structured time slots throughout your week to remind you that you are still human.”
“Our pod has worked with a Fellow about the personal blockages that are keeping this individual from embracing the ‘microphone’ and developing a public-facing voice/brand that can catapult her organization into the limelight. The group helped encourage the Fellow to refocus on the impact that her voice can have to advance the needs of the community she is serving rather than being caught up in how it reflects on her individually. This reframing freed the Fellow to pursue this work from a different angle.”
“One of our pod members was going through a year-long complex dynamic with a business partner surrounding a financial dispute. The pod became the ‘go-to’ place for this Fellow to turn to when dealing with new challenges with their business partner. From the technicalities of legal and accounting advice to brainstorming new approaches to smoothen the communication between the partners, the pod provided a holistic set of supports to keep this Fellow’s spirits high through the low-points of the project.”
The Fellows are still meeting in their pods, so this list will be sure to grow. We’d love to hear from the Fellows themselves—either this year or from years past … what were some of the most transformational or ‘aha’ moments from your pod? Share in comments!