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Starting in 2017, Co-Founders Pat Mitchell, Ronda Carnegie, and Hafsat Abiola brought together a diverse range of women leaders from around the world to convene at Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center with the purpose of developing women leaders perspectives on confronting global challenges.


CWL reconvened at Bellagio again in 2019 to lead problem solving sessions in their core priority areas - food security, global health, and climate justice. 


Pat Mitchell and Ronda Carnegie gathered together 33 women leaders, from 16 different countries around the world, who all work on the front lines of change across culture, media, business, social enterprises and government to explore opportunities for connecting their communities, constituencies, and networks to accelerate solutions, strategize collective actions, and consider new ideas for addressing global challenges.


The program included presentations on new data and research, deep-dive sessions and group discussions about innovative thinking, holes in current networks, and concrete actions needed to move forward. Many of the topics pointed to the importance of harnessing the power of connected women’s leadership for new solutions to the climate crisis, as rising populism, growing economic inequities and violence threaten peace-building efforts, environmental sustainability and human well-being.

A Declaration on Climate Justice was drafted and presented to the UN Climate summit and signed by 700 world leaders, signifying CWL as an important player in the climate movement.


In 2022, Connected Women Leaders again convened at the Bellagio Center, and together with a small cohort of leaders in climate justice, global health, food security, worked with The Rockefeller Foundation to shape new models for cross generational learning, peer to peer mentorship, and collective problem solving. We curated a cohort of emerging leaders and worked with them to strengthen their leadership abilities with skill developments in the essential areas of financial management, sustainability, communication and advocacy, and building networks of support among women leaders everywhere. Out of this convening, Project Dandelion was born. Through an UNGA event and in partnership with WRTHY, Project Dandelion began to take root. Project Dandelion is a flagship project of CWL and can be explored more via the Project Dandelion website.


2023 was a continuation of Project Dandelion, a global climate justice campaign ready for activation. The

purpose of this year's Bellagio convening was to further shape the campaign’s strategies to raise awareness of the urgency of the crisis, to specify and implement actions to unite women leaders as a new global force to demand legislative and regulative responses from government and companies, and to develop a strong fundraising plan for the resources needed to activate and implement the campaign.   


We convened a selected group of women leaders, representing different sectors, geographies and backgrounds, along with the core cohort of Project Dandelion builders, to activate Project Dandelion’s campaign goals and objectives. Because of this convening the Project Dandelion team finalized the campaign pitch deck and operations plan and successfully secured $50,000 to support catalytic fundraising efforts.


The purpose of our 2024 convening, 'Project Dandelion: Climate Justice is for Everyone,' stands distinct from our ongoing work. This gathering marks a crucial step change in our journey. We aim to showcase the transformative power of women's leadership in driving action on climate justice by asking this group of 20 strategically chosen participants the question: what does it mean to scale Project Dandelion?


Bringing together women leaders from climate-related and adjacent sectors, our focus went beyond acknowledging climate issues — over the course of a week and with the support of a Yunel facilitator, we proved that climate concerns are universal. Through this Bellagio convening, participants embodied the essence of a Dandelion, connecting personally to the urgency of the movement and acknowledging the Dandelion within themselves.


The outcome was clear: attendees left as empowered Dandelions, ready to propagate change within their spheres. This convening, employing an internal strategic approach, served as a springboard for broader action and advocacy—the external game. Dandelions, unified in purpose, aiming to multiply their impact, seeding more Dandelions across networks and communities.


Informed by CWL's report on women's networks, this event was pivotal in amplifying the influence of women leaders, establishing a compelling narrative that asserts climate justice as a collective imperative, and coming away with a firm plan to scale Project Dandelion.


In a world where the climate crisis poses unprecedented challenges, the role of women leaders in shaping a just and sustainable future has never been more critical. Our proposed 2025 Bellagio conference think tank will be dedicated to exploring "The Inside Game" - the essential, often unrecognized strategies and efforts of women who are driving impactful change across various sectors.

At the heart of this conference lies the belief that true, transformational leadership begins from within. "The Inside Game" refers to the internal strength, innovative thinking, and strategic acumen that women bring to the forefront of these connected movements. Our focus will be on how these leaders navigate complex systems, influence policy, and inspire societal shifts towards sustainability.

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