Emerge California, Class of 2015
The best way to empower women leaders is to give them a supportive community to grow in. While the path to empowerment is an individual process, one person can only take themselves so far in his or her growth. Being in a community, where everyone shares their stories of overcoming struggles and supports each other in such growth is imperative to personal transformation. A person needs to know they are not alone in their challenges. They need to see others who have made it to inspire them to become the greater self they seek to be. This is especially necessary for women and those from underrepresented communities who look up the career ladder and don't see many leaders that look like them.
I have dedicated my career to building inclusive communities, predominantly for women. Moreover, as I have grown in my career doing such, I have and continue to have great challenges growing as a female leader myself. I truly hope to write a book someday soon about this epic journey! I am eternally indebted to the countless women who have supported me along my leadership path. I literally could not have done it alone. As an alumna of these various groups, my community continues to give back and support me.
As a cisgender woman, I have personally found it incredibly valuable to be a part of communities just for women. While I strongly believe in inclusiveness and inviting men and people of all genders into feminist conversations, a unique safe space is established in women only spaces. When people from underrepresented communities are together with each other, they can feel safe to be vulnerable and share their experiences of discrimination. A special bond is created that produces deep, meaningful relationships through this shared identity. While co-ed groups must also exist, single sex environments have special benefits for empowerment.
Below are the various women's communities I have been a part of, many of which I have be privileged to help build. In the future, I hope to write my PhD dissertation examining the best practices to create such sustainable communities.
I encourage you to click on the links below for the various groups I have been a part of. While I have been and continue to be a part of many organizations, these are the ones that have been the most meaningful to me. I challenge you to seek out similar communities for yourself, or even to build new ones that do not yet exist.
As Madeline Albright often shares, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I spend every day of my life making sure I don't end up there!
Congressional Fellowships on Women and Public Policy (formerly WREI)
We Lead program, American University
WILpower program, Leading Women in Technology
Progressive Women's Voices
The White House Project & Ploughshares Fund Women in Nuclear Security program
Professional Women's Organizations
Ericsson Women in Leadership (WIL) group
Women Get It Done
Women in Government Relations
Nonprofits & Higher Education
Women in Management (WIM) groups at Stanford GSB
Women's Information Network
Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)
Sewall-Belmont House & Museum