GenHERation: Empowering Girls to Become Leaders

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Penn website as part of President’s Engagement Prize-Winners Launch Social Impact Projects. Katlyn Grasso W’15 is one of five winners of the inaugural President’s Engagement Prize. As a student, Katlyn was an active participant in the Wharton Entrepreneurship community: she was a member of the Venture Initiation Program, a semifinalist in the Business Plan Competition, and the recipient of a Wharton Venture Award.

Only five percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, and there are even fewer women who start their own businesses.

“I grew up in an environment where I was conditioned to believe that girls can do anything,” says Katlyn Grasso, a Wharton School graduate who majored in economics, with concentrations in finance and strategic globalization.

“Girls have to realize their leadership potential at a young age so that they gain the confidence to pursue those leadership positions later in their life,” says Grasso.

She’s using her President’s Engagement Prize funding to help them do just that.

In 2013, Grasso founded GenHERation, a female empowerment network that gives high school girls the opportunity to work with female executives at nonprofits and corporations, with the idea that this work will help them matriculate at top colleges and lead to successful careers. In the summer of 2014, she launched a week-long GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, starting in her hometown of Buffalo and traveling to New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

KatlynWith the support of the President’s Engagement Prize, Grasso will expand GenHERation’s summer tour to 10 cities across the nation. It will feature talks, a negotiations workshop, and skill-building activities. Her goal is to reach 15,000 girls.

“This President’s Engagement Prize is going to be the catalyst that promotes expansive growth beyond my wildest dreams,” says Grasso.

Grasso believes that meeting women in leadership positions is the key to helping young women achieve success in business.

“If you see a woman president or CEO you think, ‘I could be her one day,’” she says.

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