The Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI)

The Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) is an innovative partnership envisioned by Steven Hilton, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In spring of 2007, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded a grant to Marywood University in collaboration with ASEC to design and implement this program. The first sisters began their coursework that same spring.

The goal of SLDI is to develop a multi-track educational program for African Sisters that will cultivate competencies to administer projects and programs that address the human suffering that exist among the people they serve more effectively. Sisters are trained in three areas: basic technology, leadership and financial management.  Importantly, training to Catholic sisters is adaptable to the specific needs and contexts in which they live. Curriculum is delivered by instructors from Africa and the United States.

The SLDI curricula designed to impart skills in:

  • basic project management
  • participatory leadership
  • strategic planning
  • financial management
  • human resource management
  • written and oral communication
  • fund-raising
  • project evaluation
  • information/communications systems including computer tools and software applications for management.

Phase 1 (2007-2009) – In this first phase, through a three-track design, women in each of five countries (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda) were selected for education, and through a mentoring program, an additional group of women were trained. Sisters self-selected into three program tracks: the Administrators Track, the Finance Track, or the Project Directors Track. By the end of the three-year pilot program, 267 Sisters completed the program and received a certificate of completion at graduation ceremonies in their respective countries; they mentored approximately 1,000 others as a result of this program. Participants represented 108 congregations serving in a multiple of ministries such as orphanages, schools, dispensaries, agriculture, and health programs including programs for those with AIDS.

Phase II (2010-2012) - ASEC received a second grant from the Conrad C. Hilton Foundation in 2010 to continue with this program. The program was expanded to include Zambia. A total of 250 women religious from six countries participated in the program, and 237 successfully completed the three-year program and graduated after gaining competencies in leadership, human resource management, financial management, and basic technology skills. These women are actively engaged in bringing change to their ministries and make a difference in the lives of millions of people in Africa.

The SLDI alumnae of both Phases I and II have raised over $3.7 million to support their ministries. SLDI alumnae and their mentees serve a population of 1,436,422.

Phase III (2013) - SLDI Bridge Year - A bridge grant to support the SLDI program was approved. The program will serve a total of 274 women religious from eight countries as follows – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Southern Sudan.  Sisters from Malawi will participate in Zambia and those in Southern Sudan will participate in Kenya or Uganda. The 2013 program will focus on Basic Technology and Web Design Workshops.

An evaluation component has been built into the system to allow for continual improvement in curriculum and presentation. The expected outcomes are that upon completion of the SLDI series of courses, African participants will demonstrate increased competencies for leadership, visioning, conflict resolution and project management, and reflect greater business acumen, self-confidence, and technical competency.

Donate to ASEC