I am the Executive Director of the World Stroke Organization (WSO), where I manage a small Secretariat, overseeing the WSO’s advocacy, education and awareness programs and leading the development and delivery of organizational strategy, including resource development. In this role, I work closely with UN/WHO and other organizations to increase the visibility of stroke and to mainstream stroke prevention, treatment, and survivor support into the global health policy agenda.

Mia Fredin Grupper
Executive Director, World Stroke Organization

What inspired you to work in the international association sector?

What I love about my job is that I am working for a good cause and that I believe that our work is making a difference in the world. That is what drives me forward each day, as well as the interaction with a whole range of stakeholders from across the world. I recommend working for an association, but in order to be successful at it, you need to believe deeply in its mission. Then the magic happens and you stop seeing it as a job, but rather as a legacy you want to be a part of, a mark that you are committed to leaving for the betterment of humanity.

Can you remember a time when you needed to #BreakTheBias?

Not really and I believe it has to do with my upbringing being born and raised in Switzerland. I see women’s leadership involving more networking, collaborating, engaging, and supporting. The traditional leadership from back in the day was more authoritative, strong, commanding, competitive and well… male! The world needs the skills that female leaders bring to the table and I’m happy to see quite a lot of female leaders in global health nowadays, and I am pleased to let you know that WSO will have its first female President for the term 2022-2024.

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations?

The World Stroke Organization is working hard to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some examples are a gender balance in our Board of Directors, in various committees and speakers at congresses. That means that consideration to join our various activities will be given to members with relevant professional skill base, geographical representation of the WSO, stage of career and gender. We have also recently started some initiatives to highlight the great work of women in the sciences. There is also a proposal to start a task force to reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusion even further. This would be a very important initiative to help keep the diversity thinking on the table and could include everything from research funding to conference design. However, an association needs volunteers and in the end, what matters is finding the right skillset in people and having the most capable people take the positions, rather than ticking boxes but compromising on the quality of the work done. That’s where I would draw the line – have an open mind and see the skill and passion before anything else.