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Latoya West-Blackwood

Amplifying impact through lifelong learning

To position herself for greater impact in her community and beyond, Latoya West-Blackwood seized the opportunity to attend Yale’s Women’s Leadership Program.

As the founder of Jamaica’s first registered publishing consultancy, iPublish Consultancy, Latoya West-Blackwood champions gender equity, social justice, literacy, and intellectual property rights as tools for transformation and inclusive prosperity. Her work to improve access to education for underserved communities and drive youth civic engagement through literacy earned her the Yale School of Management International Publishing Leader Award, opening the door for her to attend Yale’s Women’s Leadership Program.

Driven by an unwavering passion to create positive change in her community and beyond, Latoya jumped at the opportunity to strengthen her leadership skills and amplify her impact. 

What she ultimately encountered in the program was an empowering experience that provided strategic insights, new perspectives, and something she didn’t expect—a supportive, long-lasting community of fellow changemakers.

What motivated you to attend the Women’s Leadership Program (WLP)?
Opportunity knocked, and I answered! My path to WLP came via the funding from my International Publishing Leader Award (2020). When I reviewed the available programs, WLP stood out because I relished being on campus—this was my first training since the pandemic—in a safe environment to learn and connect with other women in leadership from across the world. The profile of the lecturers and the testimonials of previous cohorts got me excited about how the program could help me to grow in practical ways, especially in the areas of decision-making, innovation, and access to coaching. In the end, it was an easy choice.

When you attended the program, where were you in your career?
I'd say I was relatively established in my country and region, but as a lifelong learner, I was consciously mapping my next growth steps to position myself for greater impact and leadership beyond my home turf. If you don't plan for yourself, who will? The Reflected Best Self exercise was a game-changer in allowing me to understand how others viewed me through a range of personal and professional lenses, confirm my natural strengths, and appreciate that my 'weaknesses' were really opportunities to level up and grow.

Since your time in the program, what professional accomplishments bring you the greatest pride?
I just completed a 3-year tenure on the board of PublisHER, an organization working to create a real community among women in publishing globally while developing and deploying resources that are helping to create opportunities and promote gender equality and greater levels of diversity. My WLP experience definitely helped me to serve effectively in this capacity. I also became a better leader with greater self-awareness and a greater appreciation of the skill of listening to learn and collaborate with fellow changemakers.

WLP is an investment in yourself, your present, and your future. Beyond the practical insights and resources you'll access, it's a priceless opportunity to tap into a network you would be less likely to connect with in other settings.

What are some key program learnings that you have implemented in your work?
I learned the true meaning of innovation—elegant solutions to existing problems. Ease, efficiency, and simplicity are often underestimated but are major keys to tackling challenges. I deepened my appreciation for the power of collaboration across borders and cultures. There's much more that can unite us than should divide us—your perspective and attitude matter. The exit coaching sessions helped me to set very clear goals and my new Yale sisters have helped a lot with accountability.

How would you describe the program and its value to someone considering it?
WLP is an investment in yourself, your present, and your future. Beyond the practical insights and resources you'll access, it's a priceless opportunity to tap into a network you would be less likely to connect with in other settings. The opportunity to learn and network in such a diverse environment was eye-opening and provided new perspectives.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your program experience or what you've achieved since your program?
I love that most of us have remained connected—our Whatsapp group chat is very active—and genuinely support each other. From celebrating birthdays and milestones to sharing vulnerably and tapping into our courageous community (thanks Dr. Brooks!), we have made real and lasting connections. This is a gift none of us expected but absolutely treasure. Since the program, I've remained a sane mom of four, leaned deep into the love and support of my husband, won an award or two, and ticked some items off my bucket list.