At 4:03 in the morning, my team met at the entrance of the Philadelphia airport with eight suitcases, four banners and optimistic smiles. As part of the first GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, we were scheduled to visit five cities in the next seven days to hold workshops for more than 500 girls across the United States. GenHERation is a female empowerment network for millennial girls, which provides opportunities to work with national corporations and nonprofit organizations to develop their own advocacy campaigns to address community issues. After receiving the 2014 Wharton Venture Award from Wharton Entrepreneurship, I dedicated my summer to the national expansion of GenHERation.
As I prepared for the summer, I realized that one of the best ways to strengthen the GenHERation community was through offline events that allowed girls to connect with their peers and female professionals. During the GenHERation Summer Leadership series, we organized skill-building exercises, featured 20 female executives from 15 different industries and awarded more than $5,000 in scholarships.
Priyanka, a GenHERation member from Philadelphia, is a proponent of offline engagement. “I liked the panel of women in different occupations,” she said. “It was very informative and offered proof that women are more than capable of being leaders in their fields. I met some really intelligent girls and enjoyed collaborating with them. It also proved that young women can be leaders and work together when there is a clear focus.”
The GenHERation Summer Leadership Series was a transformational experience that solidified my desire to work on my venture full time after graduation.
To expand upon the success of the GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, we held our first regional conference, the GenHERation Connection 2014 Philadelphia, on Saturday, November 15 at the Penn Museum. This event consisted of a series of female speakers from five different companies, interactive group challenges, live performances and more than $2,000 in scholarships. We also partnered with the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls to hold a social business pitch competition. The winner received a $500 grant and a project mentor.
Through such national and regional events, strategic marketing efforts, school partnerships and corporate collaborations, the GenHERation community has grown from 250 to 5,000 girls across the country. Although numerical metrics are essential for analysis, the true impact GenHERation can have on a girl’s confidence and personal development is not quantifiable. The ability to change the way a girl views her role in the world is the most fulfilling part of my work. Empowering girls is a long-term investment in the future that requires dedication and commitment from the international community.
Read more about Katlyn and her motivations behind GenHERation (including her Leadership Camp for Girls 2013) in the essay she wrote for Wharton Magazine, “Redefining Leadership.”
Editor’s note: The original version of this post first appeared on the Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog on Nov. 11, 2014.