You are invited to The Geneva Learning Foundation’s Learning & Leadership Dialogue.

The Dialogue connects a very diverse group of learning leaders from all over the world who are tackling complex learning, leadership, and impact challenges.

Join us in a roundtable to discuss the latest trends, to share your lessons learned and successes, and to problem-solve real-world challenges and dilemmas.

The Dialogue is also a master class with its conveners. Karen E. Watkins and Reda Sadki, co-founders of the Foundation, explore and demonstrate how to apply The Foundation’s unique approach to learning, leadership, and impact in the Digital Age to real-world challenges.

Receive weekly episodes of Season 1 and share your challenge ahead of Season 2










Do you have a challenge, success story, or lesson learned that you would like us to explore?

Do you have a story you would like to share that has to do with learning, leadership, or impact? It can, of course, be related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it does not have to be.

If you decide to share, you will be asked 10 open-ended questions to help us understand your story.

  • You only have to answer the first two questions, but the more you tell us, the more likely we are to have some interesting dialogue around what you shared.
  • We will select stories received to discuss, explore, and problem-solve them together.
  • We will probably invite you to join the panel to tell us more.

Meet the convenors of the Dialogue

Karen Watkins

In the Dialogue, Karen Watkins draws on a lifetime of study, research, and action around learning culture, performance, leadership, and change.

Reda Sadki

In the Dialogue, Reda Sadki, shares his singular insights on current issues, and explores how the Foundation’s unique methodology can be applied to learning and leadership challenges of all kinds.

Karen’s biographical sketch
Read Reda’s blog

Feedback from a listener about the third Dialogue on 30 May 2021

‘The discussants were perfect, and their presentations resonate with what we experience in our daily lives and in our workplaces.’

Meet Key Contributors to the Dialogue

Key Contributors join the Dialogue upon invitation from The Geneva Learning Foundation. Contributors share their personal views in the Dialogue, grounded in their practice of learning and leadership. Views expressed do not represent the decisions, policies, or view of the Foundation or of the Contributors’ respective organizations. Some Key Contributors have asked not to be named, due to their professional roles or other constraints.

Laura Bierema

Laura Bierema

Former HR executive in the automotive industry who transferred to higher education to work in programs dedicated to promoting learning and development in the workplace.

Esther Wojcicki

Emanuele Capobianco

Global public health and humanitarian expert with 20 years experience in international institutions at country, regional and headquarters level. Dr Capobianco is committed to alleviate the suffering of people, particularly the most vulnerable, wherever they are. He believes in change through dynamic teams and partnerships; and likes results, speed, and positive energy.

Carolina Danovaro

Carolina Danovaro

Dr. Danovaro (aka Danovaro-Holliday) has over 20 years of experience working in different immunization-related activities. Along the way, she has continuously reflected on her role and the significance of leadership in global health, constantly asking “Why?” and advocating for critical thinking as the key to effective decision-making.

Nancy Dixon

Nancy Dixon’s work is focused on increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing in the workplace. “Our most effective knowledge sharing tool”, she says, “is conversation.”

Katiuscia Fara

Senior Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Advisor at the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP).

Bill Gardner

Bill has more than thirty-five years of experience coaching executives, improving team functioning, strengthening organizations and creatively addressing problems and issues. His success spans a broad range of private, public, agency and not-for-profit organizations, including banking, higher education, industrial gas and chemicals, electric utility and a high-tech semiconductor industries.

Keith Hampson

Keith is a Fellow of the Geneva Learning Foundation, in recognition of his ongoing work to explore new forms of digital education and their relationship to vestigial and legacy institutions that continue to hold a “soft monopoly” on the industry of education.

Bryan Hopkins

Bryan draws on complexity theory and systems thinking to help international organizations and NGOs in the humanitarian and development sectors training strategies. He is writing a book on facilitating organizational learning about sustainability.

Iris Isip-Tan

Academician and clinician, internist-endocrinologist with a special interest in health informatics (particularly use of mobile technology and social media). Known as “The Endocrine Witch” on Twitter, Iris is leading the digital transformation of medical education.

Barbara Moser-Mercer

Visiting Professor, University of Nairobi; Professor emerita, Université de Genève. Specialties: Cognitive psychology & Expertise, Virtual learning, Humanitarian capacity-building in conflict zones through Higher Education in Emergencies, Conference interpreting

Aliki Nicolaides

Dr. Nicolaides’ work seeks to optimize vital developmental conditions for adults, groups and systems to learn. Through years of research and teaching, she has developed a theory of learning-within-ambiguity called “Collaborative Generative Learning”. The results show how adults may also learn from within the complexity.

Renee Rogers

Renee brings over 25 years of experience of coaching, talent management, and leadership development practice. Renee focuses on coaching executives and top leadership teams to create positive change around challenging issues including diversity, communication, conflict, accountability, and playing to win. More recently, she has completed studies in healing collective trauma and dialogue as a way forward to heal division and alienation.

Alan Todd

Alan Todd is CEO of CorpU. A pioneer in the field of corporate learning, Alan has served as Chairman, CEO and co-founder of KnowledgePlanet, a company that helped launch the online learning revolution. More than a technologist, his thinking and practice about what it means to lead in the Digital Age provides a new paradigm for corporate learning and development.

Bill Wiggenhorn

Bill Wiggenhorn

A living legend in corporate learning and leadership, Bill founded Motorola University, blazing new ways to develop leadership in transnational corporations. He continues to develop game-changing custom-designed executive development strategy, systems, and programs.

Esther Wojcicki

Esther Wojcicki

Educator and journalist, author of both Moonshots in Education and How to Raise Successful People. Esther believes that “simple lessons” can lead to “radical results.”

Chizoba Wonodi

Dr. Chizoba Wonodi is public health physician with over twenty-seven years’ research and program experience in Africa, Asia and America. She serves as the Nigeria Country Director at the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC).


Listen to the Ninth Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

In this Ninth Dialogue, we are going to start with Dr. Mai Abdalla. After studying global health security in at Yosei University South Korea, she completed both public health and pharmaceutical science qualifications in her own country, Egypt. By the time she turned 30, Dr Abdalla had already worked with the Ministry of Health, several agencies of the United Nations, and the African Union Commission. The accomplishments of her professional life are just the starting point, however. We want to explore where and how did she learn to do what she does now: what has shaped her experience and practice of leadership?

We are privileged to have Key Contributors Laura Bierema and Bill Gardner, together with Karen Watkins, three Scholars who have dedicated their life's work to the study of leadership and learning. As we learn about Mai Abdalla’s leadership journey, they share their insights and reflections.

In the second half of the Dialogue, we explored the leadership challenges of other invited Contributors, including:

  • Sanusi Getso on leadership to establish antenatal care services for a neglected, remote community.
  • Alève Mine shares her quandary about how to understand something for which no scaffold exists in one's current view of the world.

Listen to the eighth TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

In the Eighth Dialogue, Karen E. Watkins and I were joined for the first time by Key Contributors Iris Isip-Tan and Keith Hampson.

In the first hour of the Dialogue, we explored two fascinating leadership journeys:

  • What did Iris Isip-Tan, Director of the Interactive Learning Center at the University of the Philippines in Manila, do in response to her colleagues’ need to pivot to emergency digital learning during lockdown – and to what extent this led to more lasting change? How did her singular leadership journey help her prepare for digital transformation?
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peter Tippett built a platform to help yoga teachers replicate and augment the direct observation and feedback that are key to their experience of teaching and learning. You will be surprised to discover where and how Peter learned the practice of leadership.

In Part 2, we shifted our attention to the Metaverse, following Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that he is betting his company's future on it. What does this announcement mean for learning leaders?

Listen to the seventh TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

Every episode is different, drawing on the life experiences of Key Contributors and of listeners who become contributors by sharing their own learning and leadership challenges – and what they are doing about them.

For this Seventh Dialogue, recorded on 26 September 2021, we have around our table for the first time three new Key Contributors.

  • Victoria J. Marsick, PhD, is a professor of Adult and Organizational Learning in the Department of Organization & Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to joining Teachers College, she was a training director at the United Nations Children’s Fund.
  • Dorothy Marcic went, she says, “from Footnotes to Footlights”. She quit academia and a regular paycheck to become a full-time playwright. She wrote two hit musicals, RESPECT, which has played 2800 performances in 72 cities and SISTAS, currently playing Off-Broadway in New York City for over six years.
  • Nabanita De's full-time occupation is as a cloud security engineer. She is also the founder of Returnships, a non-profit initiative, aimed to help women to get back to work after a long haul in career.

We welcome back Bill Gardner and Nancy Dixon, who listen and share their insights from the Dialogue, and thank Tari Lawson, Joyce Muriithi, and Aanu Rotimi for their insightful contributions.

Listen to the sixth TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

In this sixth Dialogue for learning, leadership, and impact on 29 August 2021, Reda Sadki and Karen E. Watkins explore:

  • Is there a meaningful difference between change and transformation? Key Contributor Aliki Nicolaides believes that there is. She has just completed editing the new Palgrave Handbook of Learning for Transformation, a collection of more than 1,100 pages of research, thinking, and practice, exploring a more complex and deeper inquiry into the “Why of transformation.”
  • We talk to Australian communications guru Mike Hanley about how he learned to survive, adapt, and lead an organization’s communications in a world where, he says, "everything changes, in real time, as the digital media environment shifts with technology, trends and events."
  • Tari Dawson is a doctor and teacher of medicine in Nigeria. She shares her leadership journey, revisiting a time during the HIV pandemic when she had to make difficult decisions to reshape an organization – and discovered that change is “a process, not a procedure.”
  • New digital platforms are transforming the relationships between creators and their patrons. We discuss Patreon CEO Jack Conte's perspective about the transformation of patronage in the Digital Age – and explore what this might mean for learning leaders. 

Listen to the fifth TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

Welcome to this fifth episode of the Geneva Learning Foundation’s Dialogue for Learning, Leadership, and Impact, recorded on 25 July 2021. First of all, with my Co-Convenor Karen E. Watkins, I want to thank the Contributors who have brought this Dialogue to life. There are many venues where leadership and learning are discussed. I do not know of another one quite like this one, focused on practitioners from everywhere working on everything, fusing theory and research with practice, and dedicated to exploration with no rigid institutional or disciplinary boundaries.

Bill Wiggenhorn, the legendary founder of Motorola University, is with us tonight for the first time. The other Key Contributors for this episode are: Katiuscia Fara, Bill Gardner, and Esther Wojcicki. Charlotte Mbuh, Emmanuel Musa, and Min Zha shared their leadership journeys. Other Contributors included: Esther Dheve Djissa, Joseph Ngugi, Joyce Muriithi, Morufu Olalekan Raimi, Muhammad Umar Sadkwa, and Ritha Willilo.

Together, we explored the following issues through the twin lenses of learning and leadership:

  1. Climate change specialist Katiuscia Fara contributed the following question for discussion: How to ensure equity when looking at digital trainings given that not everyone, and especially those most vulnerable, might have access to it. What are some of the solutions that we can look at in delivering at the last mile?
  2. For the first time, we called on Contributors to fill the "Empty Chair". This was suggested by Nancy Dixon: choose a person in the room and ask them about their insights on leadership – and share their learning journey. Charlotte Mbuh, Min Zha, and Emmanuel Musa are the first to fill the chair.
  3. Return to shared physical space? With two corporate learning heavyweights in the room, we discussed what Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) should be advising Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to navigate the seismic shifts in the world of work wrought by the digital transformation and compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the fourth TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

On 27 June 2021, Convenors Karen Watkins and Reda Sadki were joined by four Key Contributors: Laura Bierema, Bill Gardner, Bryan Hopkins, and Aliki Nicolaides. Contributors include: Aleida Auld, Charlotte Mbuh, Cleopas Chiyangwa, Emmanuel Musa, Frema Osei-Tutu, Iliyasu Adamu, Joseph Ngugi, Kuldeep Baishya, Lara Idris, Nadene Canning, Ndaeyo Iwot, Rhoda Samson, Sachithra Dilani, Samuel Sha'aibu, Sfundo Gratitude Sithole, Simon Adjei, Sohini Sanyal, Sonia, Stephen Downes, and Tari Lawson. Here are seven of the themes that we explored together.

  1. Leadership for digital learning: can we make online breakout groups similar to in-person small groups – or is that the wrong question?
  2. How do we learn within ambiguity and uncertainty – and why is this so important now and particularly in a humanitarian context?
  3. How important is it that your own personal values are aligned with those of your organization?
  4. Is there any evidence for theories of leadership?
  5. Why is authority so often conflated with leadership?
  6. Can those who lack authority lead change?
  7. What impact will artificial intelligence have on learning and leadership?

Our purpose is not only to know what Contributors think about a topic, challenge, or issue. We also want to understand how they came to know. And what coming to know – the question of epistemology – has to do with leadership.

A few quotes from the fourth Dialogue

Tari Lawson: “Change is a process not a procedure!”

Sohini Sanyal: “Before we actually bring about change, we usually realize what it is that we want to change. I feel, that realization itself is learning.”

Aliki Nicolaides: “Change Maker is a great way to think about leadership and learning. Making demands imagination and the risk of failure to learn.”

Laura Bierema: “The pandemic has separated leaders who are able to truly lead in ambiguity from those who are not.”

Cleopas Chiyangwa: “Leadership and change are closely related they are two sides of the same coin.”

Laura Bierema: “Being a leader in ambiguity also requires the ability to help people be comfortable venturing into the unknown so they are able to make decisions and function. The leader must model the journey into the unknown with encouragement, gratitude, and and learning.”

Emmanuel Musa: “How can we change those in leadership positions so that they  learn true leadership?”

Listen to the third TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

On 30 May 2021, Convenors Karen Watkins and Reda Sadki were joined by eight Key Contributors: Nancy Dixon, Bryan Hopkins, Barbara Moser-Mercer, Renee Rogers, Catherine Russ, Esther Wojcicki, Laura Bierema, and Emanuele Capobianco.

Each Key Contributor here has a singular leadership journey. This may have a collective dimension, related to various kinds of movements, of belonging, or of affiliations that have and continue to shape. Even when this is so, it is deeply personal and individual. It is also a process of accretion, although of course we are likely to recall quantum leaps in significant learning. 

There may be discomfort with calling oneself a 'leader', given the conflation between leadership and authority, leadership and management, leadership and perceived value in society.

Then, there is the moment of coming to consciousness, about the significance of leadership.

So we started there, by asking:

  • How do you define the notion of leadership in this Digital Age? How is it different from notions of leadership in the past?
  • When and how did you realize the significance of the leadership question in your work and life? Who or what helped you come to consciousness?
  • What difference did it make to have this new consciousness about the importance of leadership?
    What is your own leadership practice now?
  • How do you define your leadership in relationship to learning? Are you a 'learning leader' and, if so, what does that mean?

We are privileged to have a number of Key Contributors who have dedicated their life's work to the study of leadership and learning. We are interested in their leadership journeys, of course, but we will also turn to them to ask:

  • What do you hear, as you listen to these stories?
  • What can you share from your work on leadership to better understand the journeys being shared?

And, really, we want to know: How do you listen to people sharing their experience of leadership? What are you listening for in order to unravel what goes into – and can come out of – leadership?

Listen to the second TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

On 25 April 2021, Karen Watkins and Reda Sadki were joined by seven Key Contributors: Carolina Danovaro, Nancy Dixon, Katiuscia Fara, Bill Gardner, Bryan Hopkins, Barbara Moser-Mercer, and Renee Rogers.

Here are a few of the questions we explored in the second Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact:

  • How can we promote learning within organizations about social and environmental sustainability?
  • How do we support public health and other essential workers post-pandemic?
  • How do we begin to heal collective trauma in the face of challenges that include climate change, polarization, and racism?
  • How do we as learning facilitators speed up time-to-capability without sacrificing quality and effectiveness?
  • How do we build course syllabi for fragile contexts that transition students to problem-based and collaborative learning?

Listen to the first TGLF Dialogue on learning, leadership, and impact

We opened up the first Dialogue on 28 March 2021 to include real-world challenges, successes, and lessons learned from over 150 that were submitted by invitees. Those we discussed include:

  • Children adapting to digital learning in Lebanon during the COVID-19 period with involvement of girls actually increasing because of the use of digital technology.
  • How to deal with resistance against peer-supported learning in pyramid organizational hierarchy.
  • Bringing a single digital infrastructure for data collection across a global network.