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Women's Initiative Fellows Take on the Big Apple

March 24, 2014 5 minute Read by Charity Wallace

The Fellows continued their journey last week and traveled to New York City. Thursday morning began with an introduction to American Express and a panel discussion on the professional success of women in the workplace, specifically focused on the benefits of sponsorship. While the Fellows have been learning about the importance of having a mentor, this conversation helped differentiate the role of a mentor from the role of a sponsor. Listening to female employees from American Express discuss the impact of sponsorship in their own careers taught the Fellows that women need powerful sponsors to help propel and protect them in the workplace.

The next stop was the corporate headquarters of kate spade new york. The Fellows loved hearing about the inspiration behind the brand and meeting Craig Leavitt and Deborah Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer of the company. Johanna Almstead, Director of Public Affairs for kate spade and mentor to Esraa Fathy of the 2013 Fellowship Class, talked to this year’s class about the company’s corporate social responsibility program in Rwanda. The Fellows were encouraged by the work to empower women and create a sustainable model in the African country.

The group also spent some time on Thursday at Google taking a tour of their unique office space and learning about Google Ideas, an innovative division focused on how technology can play a role in enabling people to confront threats in the face of repression and conflict. The women had a fascinating conversation with “Googlers” about the company’s efforts to monitor and prevent digital attacks and the Constitute Project, which compiles examples of constitutions from around the globe and puts them in one place online.

On Thursday afternoon, the Fellows met Angela Raitzin, who hosted a terrific panel of female leaders and entrepreneurs. The women agreed that the greatest career advice is to find a passion and take a leap. “Double your expectations because then you’ll get halfway there,” Angela told them. The Fellows had the unique opportunity to continue to expand their networks with the remarkable business leaders in the room and discuss their own projects. Their networking continued that evening with a reception of Bush-Cheney Alumni in New York, and the Fellows were delighted to meet supporters of the Bush Institute and many who worked in the Bush Administration.

On Friday, the group started the day at Catapult, a crowdfunding platform that funds projects dedicated to ensuring women and girls are guaranteed their basic rights. The Fellows were particularly touched by many of the projects and fascinated to learn about how their innovative partner-based crowdfunding platform works.

The next stop was the New York Stock Exchange, where the women were encouraged by the stories of female leaders who started from the bottom and worked their way to the top in a particularly male-dominated career field. They were amazed by the tour of the floor and the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest stock market.

Friday afternoon was spent at CNN, where the group had the special opportunity to meet with Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett, and other reporters and producers. It was a great opportunity for the women to further explore the issue of a free press and ask questions about editorial content, ethics, diversity of thought, and the power of the media. Erin said her greatest advice as a journalist was to “have a thick skin and stay true to your compass.” One of the Fellows asked Anderson what his favorite story has been that he’s reported, and he answered, “the most inspiring stories to me are when I see the extraordinary things in people who are fighting to live decent lives in the face of injustice.”

The Fellows were further inspired that day with a visit to ABC where Holly Gordon, a producer and mentor to one of the 2014 Fellows, hosted a screening of a film she co-produced, “Girl Rising.” The film tells the riveting and often emotional stories of repressed girls around the world in an effort to launch a global campaign for girls’ education.  The Fellows were moved by the parts of the movie they screened, heartened to spread its message, and reassured in their own efforts to help change the way their country – and the world – sees women and girls. 


Author

Charity Wallace
Charity Wallace

Charity N. Wallace serves as the Senior Advisor to the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and is in an executive graduate program in pursuit of a Global Master of Arts degree in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Most recently, Ms. Wallace served as the Vice President of the Global Women’s Initiatives and Senior Advisor to Mrs. Laura Bush. In this role, Ms. Wallace was responsible for setting the vision and managing the policy engagement for the women’s initiatives, including Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon global health initiative, empowering women in the Middle East and working with First Ladies from around the world. The Women's Initiative aims to improve access to education, health care, and economic opportunity for women and children in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

From February 2009 through September 2010, Wallace served as the Chief of Staff to Mrs. Laura Bush.  Wallace oversaw Mrs. Bush’s initiatives - from her wide ranging policy agenda to her the publishing and promotion of Mrs. Bush’s bestselling book, Spoken from the Heart. Wallace served in the Bush Administration from January 2001 to January 2009.  During her tenure in the administration, she served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States (2007-2009), Director of Advance for First Lady Laura Bush (2004-2007), and worked in public liaison positions in Presidential Advance, the U.S. Department of Education, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and USA Freedom Corps. During her tenure in the Bush Administration and in her current role, Wallace has traveled to 70 countries.

Ms. Wallace serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, the Advisory Board of ARZU Studio Hope, the Advisory Board of 4word Women and the Advisory Board of All In Together, an bi-partisan organization that promotes women’s engagement in political and civic life.  Ms. Wallace is an ex-officio member on the Human Freedom Advisory Council for the Bush Institute.  Ms. Wallace wrote the foreword for the book Work, Love, Pray, which was released in 2011. A native of California, Ms. Wallace graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a focus in international relations. 

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