With over 20 years of experience in global real estate investment, I’ve become quite aware of some of the challenges women have to face in the industry on a daily basis. While there are certainly numerous inspiring success stories of women in finance, like Abigail Johnson (CEO of Fidelity Investments) and Ana Patricia Botin (Chair of Santander Group), there is still much progress to be made.
So, when I left Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate Investing (MSREI) business in 2009 and founded GreenOak Real Estate, I wanted to do more than just build a successful investment management company. I wanted to help empower the next generation of women, especially those looking to join my field. This is what led me to look to get involved in philanthropy—and ultimately join PowHERful.
PowHERful is more than just scholarships and mentorship
As I began thinking about how I could help, an article published in the Harvard Business Review caught my attention. The researchers showed that, while men and women receive mentorships at the same rate, men are more likely to get promotions. The writers suggested this is because men are more likely to get sponsorship. Sponsors use their resources and influence to help their protogees obtain good jobs or a promotion.
I kept this in mind as I began searching for a way to help. I wanted to do more than just give money. To enact true change, we must go beyond the pocketbook. So, I wanted to bring my expertise, time, and resources to a charitable organization that did more than just write checks—which is what drew my attention to PowHERful.
PowHERful has a mission to get young inner city girls through college. It’s their mission to specifically empower those who don’t have the same resources others enjoy. To make sure the full potential of these hardworking girls is realized, the organization provides more than just financial assistance and mentorship. Board members and previous scholars of PowHERful also use their influence and resources to get our girls through college and on to a successful career path. The services provided by PowHERful are holistic, which ensures young women are given proper guidance and can get the most out of their education.
One look at the Our Scholars page on PowHERful’s website shows this method is working. Currently, we have girls studying and preparing for leadership roles across a range of fields, from healthcare and engineering to accounting and computer science. We have alumni working in important roles in product management, law, social services, and much more.
PowHERful runs on powerful ideas
When Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond—the founders of PowHERful—talked to me about the organization, I was immediately sold. They described how transforming one girl’s life could have a ripple effect, that the success of a close one could motivate friends, family, and even the greater community. This is why PowHERful runs on the motto: “We are working to transform lives—one girl at a time.”
If I didn’t believe this was true, I would’ve never signed up to be a board member. On top of that, my research showed me the power of PowHERful’s methods.
For example, when I read about Harvard Medical School’s study on how happiness really is contagious (having a happy friend increases your chances of being happy by 15 percent), it led me to think that the same could be true for success.
At PowHERful, that goal of transforming lives one girl at a time truly does work. We are seeing how the success of our girls is having a positive influence not just within our organization, but also the communities in which they live, work, study, and socialize.
Women are underrepresented in many fields
In my own field, women are greatly underrepresented. I believe my work through PowHERful can help bring more great female minds to the finance industry. Stats like the following that catch my eye:
- Out of all U.S. fund managers, less than 10 percent are women.
- Out of all the industry’s assets, women exclusively run about 2 percent of all assets. In contrast, men exclusively run 74 percent of all assets.
- Women are underrepresented in finance in comparison to other professions.
It’s my hope that PowHERful and similar organizations can directly impact fields and positions where women are desperately needed, like in finance, STEM, and corporate leadership. As a board member at PowHERful, I believe the resources we have to empower our girls can help transform industries that are traditionally dominated by men.
It’s all about giving girls the right resources and support
The PowHERful Foundation exists to empower hardworking young women from low-income families with unrealized potential. These girls have resilience, intelligence, and passion, but may not have the resources and support to achieve their dreams. It’s our goal to provide those resources and support.
I joined PowerHERful because I believe in this dream. And I’ve seen firsthand how, when these girls are given proper resources and support, great things can happen.