The Program

Testimonial Video: The Strength of the VIH Network

Testimonial Video: Worldview

The mission of the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership (VIH) is to develop and encourage a passion for life-long learning and civic engagement. The VIH Program prepares women for tomorrow’s global challenges by offering a unique opportunity for international experiences, leadership development and community service. Universities and colleges across Pennsylvania participate in the VIH Program. Three first-time women travelers from each institution are admitted into the program and receive a scholarship of at least $5,000 to put toward the cost of an international experience of their choosing.

The VIH Program has three principal components: the international experience, two, weekend-long, intensive leadership development retreats and the Community Engagement Experience. During the spring semester prior to and the fall semester following their international experiences, the awardees meet in Pittsburgh, PA.  These trainings provide the awardees with a foundation of skills necessary to maximize cultural learnings while abroad and to engage their leadership skills in their own communities upon their return.

The curriculum of the retreats is designed so that the participants explore the fundamental of leadership: self-knowledge, integrity, accountability, valuing others and global perspectives. Participants learn to challenge current mental models and deeply held assumptions related to gender, race, class and religion, as well as to cultivate an in-depth understanding of how these vary in different regions and across cultural settings. The VIH Program is guided by the following parameters: effective leadership requires intercultural competency; leadership development incorporates self-knowledge and personal growth; leadership competencies include knowledge, skills and attitudes that are strengthened through experience and reflection; and, leadership is a life-long endeavor.

VIH awardees are guided and mentored by their Campus Coordinators as they further develop their leadership skills and complete the components of the VIH Program. Ultimately, the goal of the VIH Program is to “Prepare women leaders for tomorrow’s global challenges.” This unique model develops leadership and intercultural competency skills instilling passion for life-long learning and civil engagement. More importantly, it is shaping an annual cohort of young women whose decisions and actions as future leaders will have far-reading impacts locally and potentially globally.


Program Timeline

November 1 | VIH Application Deadline

All applications should be submitted by November 1.


December | Intensive Advising

Awardees work with their respective Campus Coordinator to plan for and apply to their Study Abroad program.


March | Spring Retreat

The focus of the Spring PreDeparture Retreat centers on developing intercultural competencies and global perspectives. The VIH awardees are provided with a framework: the Cultural Matrix, and they are taught how to utilize the framework as a means to analyze differences across cultures.


May - August | International Experience

All VIH Awardees travel abroad in the summer.


September 1 | Experience Reports

All experience reports are due September 1.


September | Fall Retreat

Upon returning from their international experiences, all VIH awardees participate in a fall retreat.


November - January | CEE

The Community Engagement Experience (CEE) centers on the concept 'Think Globally; Act Locally.' VIH awardees are charged with forming a team and using their new-found skills, knowledge and passions to impact their local communities in a positive, innovative way.


January 30 | CEE and Graduation Requirements Completed

All VIH awardees finish their CEE and other requirements by January 30.


© Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, All Rights Reserved.