Guest Speaker Kari Ytterhus on Eisenhower Fellowship

by Fellow and Mentor Blanche Norris

Guest Speaker Kari Ytterhus on Eisenhower Fellowships 

Kari Ytterhus, Senior Program Officer of Eisenhower Fellowships (EF), joined the VIPTEACH Global Online Teaching Fellows as a guest speaker to share the phenomenal work the nonprofit organization is doing to make the world a more peaceful, prosperous, and just place. Founded in 1953, EF “…identifies, empowers, and connects innovative leaders through a transformative fellowship experience and lifelong engagement in a global network of dynamic change agents.” Currently, there are over 60 countries participating in the EF program.

Over her 15 years with EF, Kari has supported programs that exist to make the world a better place by providing an avenue for mid-career professionals to pursue global projects that impact the world in positive ways. Eisenhower Fellows come from every profession, country, and culture. Kari shared that of the over 1,800 Eisenhower Fellows at large internationally, more than 400 worldwide are active in the educational field.

One of these innovative leaders is our own Cindy Mi, the Founder and Board Chair of VIPTEACH. Cindy Mi participated in the 2020 EF Women’s Leadership Program and was honored by her cohort with the J.T. Tai and Company Foundation Fellowship award for her “dedication to making the world a better place and to advancing access to education for all.” During her time with EF, she explored ways to broaden the reach of VIPTEACH, a US-based public charity she founded in 2019 to empower educators with technology and professional learning that breaks down barriers preventing many children from accessing quality education.

Without a doubt, each Eishenower Fellow leaves EF transformed. This transformation is captured in their “Fellowship Story,” a personal reflection of their professional development and experiences during their Fellowship experience. Visit the EF Facebook Page to read, learn from, and connect to some of the fellows’ pivotal experiences. Kari helped us see how at VIPTEACH, we can also use storytelling to share our educational leadership journeys with others!

VIPTEACH is an example of how EF can foster exponential advancement in achieving global educational equity on individual, organizational, and societal planes. Taking inspiration from EF, VIPTEACH is home to the Global Online Teaching Fellowship of which I am now a part. Selected in Fall of 2020, the inaugural members of the VIPTEACH Fellowship program have, in turn, developed greater understanding of educational equity, professional goals, and grown in their leadership capabilities due to their participation in their cohort. At this time, many VIPTEACH Fellows are participating in unique research, and developing and implementing their own capstone projects designed to increase education equity in the US and abroad. What a legacy from Cindy Mi’s EF experience!

Kari eloquently reminded us that ideas can come from anywhere when we work with others who share our desire to be perpetually open to learning. One of her favorite quotes from an EF alum is “The world is both bigger and smaller than I realized.” We would like to thank Kari for sharing the opportunities within Eisenhower Fellowships to make a positive impact and make a difference globally. 

Blanche Norris is a Senior Learning & Development Consultant and Professional Facilitator with over 20 years of experience supporting a broad variety of clients in the Food Service, Retail, Manufacturing, Education and Communications fields. She has delivered soft skills training for large and small companies including: AT+T, Caterpillar, Tyndale House Publishing, FutureSource and the VIPKid Fast Pass program. Her specialization in soft skills and communications training is further supported by her AchieveGlobal Certification. Educational equity is a long term goal she shares with VIPTeach. She believes that educators who value making concrete contributions and are willing to make personal sacrifices for the future of global education can positively impact this goal.  Blanche holds a M.Ed. in Global HRD from the University of Illinois.