Second Annual Global First Ladies Academy Convenes for Certified Executive Leadership Training in Health and Development

Global First Ladies Alliance to lead a high-level, three-day symposium, co-hosted by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health with co-sponsors Ford Foundation, Merck & Co, PepsiCo, Prosper Africa, and GE HealthCare

July 9, 2024

First Ladies and their senior advisors from countries across Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East will participate from July 10-12 in a high-level executive leadership program to support their work to address critical health and development issues in their countries and regions, including HPV and cancer prevention, communicable and chronic disease management, maternal and child health, health systems, food security, and gender gaps in access to capital and trade opportunities.

The Academy is hosted by the Global First Ladies Alliance (GFLA) and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, in partnership with the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), the Alliance of Spouses of Heads of State and Representatives of Latin America (ALMA), the Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network (SCLAN), and the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen. Sponsoring partners for the 2024 Academy include the Ford Foundation, Prosper Africa, GE HealthCare Foundation, Merck & Co., PepsiCo Foundation, and Neuehouse, with the Rockefeller Foundation participating as a presenter. 

This second convening of the Global First Ladies Academy will focus on programmatic and policy initiatives related to health, education, trade, and economic development and how to address gender disparities in all these areas. The Academy brings together more than 15 years of programming by the Global First Ladies Alliance to support First Ladies; the power of the First Ladies’ regional networks; and the world-class scientific expertise of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“First Ladies are in a position to have great influence, but unlike other leaders at their level, many do not have the support and training they need to fulfill their potential. In a world with so much disparity, we need to equip all of our leaders with the skills to help their populations, especially the most vulnerable. GFLA is very proud to be partnering with Columbia to offer this first-of-its-kind program for First Ladies from across the globe,” said GFLA Founder and Columbia Mailman School Board Member Cora Neumann. 

Attending this year are First Ladies from Angola, Bahamas, Bermuda, Belize, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kenya (former), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia (former), Paraguay, Sierra Leone, and Suriname, as well as delegations from Iraq, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. At the conclusion of the program, each of the First Ladies will receive an educational certificate from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

"Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health is proud to co-host the Global First Ladies Academy, an innovative global executive education program to support First Ladies' leadership efforts to advance public health priorities across communities and populations,” said Dean Linda P. Fried. “First Ladies are influential champions of well-being, and we look forward to learning more about their initiatives and aspirations to inform our own research and educational agendas.”

Workshops and roundtable discussions will focus on interdisciplinary strategies to improve public health and well-being, facilitated by Columbia Mailman experts, including Columbia Mailman Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH; Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, director of the global health center ICAP and Columbia World Projects; Michael Sparer, JD, chair of the department of Health Policy and Management; and Robert Shepardson, Senior Lecturer of Health Policy and Management Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Co-founder and partner, SS+K, Co-chair, M&C Saatchi US.

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Columbia Mailman School is the fourth largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its nearly 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change and health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with more than 1,300 graduate students from 55 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Columbia Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers, including ICAP and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit

Global First Ladies Alliance

The Global First Ladies Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supports First Partners of Presidents and Prime Ministers, individually and collectively, in their efforts to create a positive, long-term impact in their countries and around the world. Through an annual Academy, fellowship programs, and direct mentoring and advising, GFLA strengthens the capacity of First Ladies, trains the next generation of policy leaders, and improves in-country programming related to national and global development challenges. Our curriculum was developed in collaboration with First Ladies from across Africa and First Ladies of the U.S. and U.K., including Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Sarah Brown, and Cherie Blair. Since 2009, GFLA has supported 74 First Ladies and 150 of their senior staff from the U.S. and across Africa, Latin America, and Europe.

Media Contact

Stephanie Berger,