Upcoming Event: SparkSF Cocktails for a Cause

Image Credit: SparkSF

Image Credit: SparkSF

Tomorrow, Spark will host their Cocktails for a Cause event at Monarch in San Francisco! I love supporting this organization as they fundraise for women’s organizations globally and provide a unique platform for young people to become leaders and philanthropists in their communities.

100% of proceeds from the event will fund their grantee, Roots of Health. Roots of Health trains college students to communicate age-appropriate, culturally specific, real time health education to young people in the Philippines. Their main innovation is a text messaging hotline that serves 1,000 young people a year. Roots of Health, bringing new meaning to the term “sexting.”

  • Tickets are available through Eventbrite here.

Looking forward to “raising and glass, awareness and funds for women around the world” with you tomorrow evening!


Women in the Global Economy: Authoring Chapters, Advancing Social Change

By: Trish Tierney on Friday, March 29, 2013

In September 2011, I had the good fortune to participate in the first-ever Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women in the Economy Summit. This historic event was driven by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and like so many initiatives launched during her time in office, it was designed not only to inspire, but to spur action for change. As I listened to Secretary Clinton and other dynamic speakers—women who had achieved the highest levels of success and impact in business, government, and civil society—the idea for a book was born.

One year ago, I began with a blank sheet of paper and considered an outline. What eight topics could form a book about women and their place in the global economy? I thought about the many topics and women leaders that inspire me and might also inspire others. As the book’s outline began to take shape, I reached out to a handful of incredible women, some new and some familiar. Whether we’d met before or were speaking for the first time, what amazed me about these women—aside from their intelligence and achievements—was their eagerness to sign on, to write a chapter, to add more work to their already full plates—all with the common goal of making a difference by sharing their experiences.

“Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change” explores the landscape of women’s participation in the economy and the key role women’s involvement plays in fueling economic growth through the creation of stable societies. It covers the transformation that has gained a foothold in recent years, where investing in women is increasingly seen as a driver for social and economic development. In publishing this book, the IIE aims to teach corporate leaders, policy makers, and educators best practices, while also encouraging them to promote women’s economic and social participation through the implementation of effective programs.

The book draws its strength from its diverse array of voices, including that of former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, who opens the conversation with a call for “more knowledge on best practices to further our investment in women and girls.”

Later, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of Women’s World Banking, addresses the progress made in terms of women’s access to microfinance. She highlights tools such as mobile banking as a means to enhance the financial future of women.

Offering a grassroots perspective, Arwa Othman, a Yemeni activist, recounts joining protests in the heart of the Arab Spring in Sana’a, and addresses the status of women in a changing region.

And a chapter on market-based approaches, authored by CGI’s Associate Director of Commitments and Head of Girls & Women Penny Abeywardena, highlights how public-private partnerships are expanding markets, and in turn, opportunities for women as well.

The willingness of the authors to take on yet another project in their very busy lives made me consider just how collaborative and happy to give back most of us are at our core. In fact, I encountered similar enthusiasm and generosity during my conversations with women in Silicon Valley about their experiences as mentors to emerging women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa through IIE’s work onTechWomen. This led me to begin designing an initiative promoting women’s participation in information communications technology (ICT) last fall.

In partnership with Senior Advisor for Women and Technology at the U.S. Department of State Ann Mei Chang, and working with an array of partners from the corporate and NGO sectors, our goal is to build the pipeline of girls and women entering ICT studies and careers, and at the same time, address this pipeline’s leaks, focusing on India, Kenya, and Brazil. We hope to accomplish this by establishing a strong support network of women in ICT, locally and across borders; by offering additional trainings and job opportunities; and by creating a more woman-friendly academic and corporate ICT culture, ultimately improving the retention and advancement of women in the field.

This project is crucial: In emerging economies, the rise of ICT as a new sector offers the opportunity to recast the perception of the field in gender-neutral—or even women-oriented—terms. Breaking the male-dominated bastion is important to attract and retain more women in the ICT field, meet the growing talent needs of the sector, and in so doing, drive overall economic growth. With computer-related positions growing at twice the rate of others, ICT offers the jobs of today, and of tomorrow. The time to build that pipeline is now.

It’s still early, but we have established an exciting consortium of companies, governments, and NGOs dedicated to leveraging our collective ideas and resources to impact women and girls on three different continents. After editing this latest book–and due to our work through CGI, which recognizes the opportunity to elevate and promote women in high-growth sectors like ICT—I’m more confident than ever that organizations across sectors are invested in making an impact. As leaders, giving back is in our nature. And as global citizens, it’s in our best interests.

To purchase IIE’s book “Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change,” visit IIE Books.

Crossposted at the Clinton Global Initiative Blog.

Higher Ed Series: How can we encourage more STEM education?

The top 10 universities in the world are located within the US and the UK, which makes their partnership essential in leading the world’s knowledge economies. Given the increasing demand for a workforce educated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the US and UK, both governments have issued calls to action to urge higher enrollments in STEM. To bring some of the brightest minds from education, industry and independent organizations together, the British Council, in partnership with the Institute of International Education, held the fifth event in the British Council Higher Education Series entitled, Building the Pipeline: Incentivizing STEM in Higher Education.

Throughout this day long conference, dynamic speakers from the UK and US presented diverse perspectives and many common themes arose from the discussions.

Hands-on learning
Several speakers called for a reevaluation of teaching methodologies for STEM courses. Steve Barkanic of Business Higher Education Forum noted that the majority of United States higher education institutions do not teach STEM in the same way that is conducted in the field. Therefore, students’ interest and career objectives in STEM are often minimalized. Educators and industry experts alike agreed that “hands-on learning” was a key element in allowing students to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for STEM.

Martha Cyert of Stanford University referred to this as “concrete or tangible learning,” which engages students through practical problem solving closely related to the needs of the STEM workforce. Dr. Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science magazine learned from his own experience of teaching a “no lecture” biology class, which thoroughly engaged his students in the activities and provided opportunities for communications development through group work. The effectiveness of this model inspired Science magazine to hold a contest for new colleges with the best laboratory models, which will be released in April 2013.

Mentoring girls
Linda Kekelis, Executive Director of Techbridge, led a break-out session on the importance of engaging young girls in STEM. Techbridge involves girls in STEM fields through hands-on projects with experienced women mentors. They have seen that many girls dream of making the world a better place, but often cannot conceptualize how to achieve this through STEM-related careers. Before joining the Techbridge after school program, most girls received limited, if any, information on STEM from their parents and teachers.
At Techbridge, the students gain inspiration from industry role models, who volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of inventors, scientists and engineers. After working with a role model, 84% of the girls felt more confident and 87% tried harder to overcome a challenge. The effects of this program have left these girls with a sense of empowerment to change the world through STEM.

Preparation for higher education
According to Steve Barkanic of Business Higher Education Forum, the first two years of undergraduate education present the steepest drop out rates. To improve retention, Dr. Michael Parrish highlighted San Jose State University’s work with high schools and community colleges to develop preparatory and prerequisite classes, allowing students to gain the skillsets needed to successfully enter university-level coursework.
Stanford University has developed a three-week summer program, the Leland Scholars Program, designed for incoming freshman from under-resourced secondary schools. Through this program, students work on designated projects with the same professors that they will work with throughout the year. As a result, students frequently interact with faculty members, increasing their potential for success.

Industry support
Arup, a global leader in engineering and design, recognizes that recent STEM graduates may still lack some skills required to be successful at their company. Consequently, Aiden Hughes explained, Arup has designed an internal training program developed for first-year employees to ensure that they feel supported at their company while fine-tuning their skillsets.

Cross-industry collaboration
According to Elizabeth Snyder from Oracle, STEM professions will be in high demand in the near future; however, there is a shortfall in data-savvy managers and of students studying STEM. This equation will leave the United States with more new STEM jobs than can be filled. It is critical, as Richard Halkett from Cisco mentioned, that industries properly assess their needs and share these insights with educational institutions, the educators and the students themselves. With current industry insights, educational institutions will have the opportunity to adjust their STEM curriculums to match industry expectations.

With a highly skilled workforce, both the UK and the US will remain global leaders in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges. From encouraging economic growth to sustaining global resources, no one industry can accomplish such tasks alone. This is why the work of the British Council is essential in incentivizing international and cross-industry collaboration to invest in the future of STEM.

Crossposted on the  British Council USA blog.

Welcome Aboard iBus – Empowerment on Wheels

My colleague and dear friend has an extraordinary vision to empower young women throughout India. I invite you to take a look at her recent project and provide feedback.
This post was originally published on the Sambhava blog. 

Introducing Sambhava’s pet project – iBus!


iBus, empowerment on wheels, will aggregate and bring growth opportunities for girls at their doorstep! iBus is in the ideational stage and designed to be applied in India. Hopefully, Sambhava can gather the required feedback, experience and funding for the iBus soon.

The Idea

iBus (can be interpreted in Hindi as ‘bus has come’) is conceived as a mobile training and informational program for girls in India who need extra guidance and encouragement to achieve their dreams. This initiative will offer a menu of workshops including professional development, innovative leadership, technical skills, health care, home-based entrepreneurship and personal counseling to the girls enrolled in the Government schools in India. Government schools cater to the lower economic strata of society and offer basic educational facilities. Students in government schools, especially girls, are not encouraged to fully develop their capabilities and support their livelihoods. iBus, a mobile training/counseling facility, will impart the necessary skills and guidance to enable the girls to create new visions and realities.

The Need

Literacy promotion in India is generally approached not as tool for empowerment but as a mere statistical goal. This turns literacy into an end rather than a means to develop capabilities or make optimal use of opportunities in society. Large numbers of girls in India from challenged economic backgrounds manage to receive basic education qualifying them as literate but lack skills essential for their overall development. Most of these girls are under-employed and not equipped to take on bigger challenges. These girls are not trained in critical reasoning, technological abilities, objective decision making, career development and personal growth.

The Approach

iBus is conceived as a community space on a bus that will be designed to facilitate trainings and discussions for girls, between ages 12-18, enrolled in government schools. Each iBus will be assigned 2 government schools and will make a stop close to each designated school for 3 days every week. Girls will be encouraged to hop on the iBus for informational and training sessions mentioned below and can use the bus at the end of the day’s session to commute back home. The menu of trainings is designed for girls at various grades in school and each iBus can offer a different schedule for girls in specific range of grade levels.

iBus adopts a two pronged approach – i) complement basic literacy of the target segment with facilities to develop their diverse capabilities and skills ii) connect the target segment with specific opportunities where they can use and further enhance their skills to fully realize their potential.

iBus menu of training

• Basic computer literacy • Education counseling • Career counseling

• Home-based entrepreneurship • Personal and financial skills • iBaithak

Crowdsourcing empowerment efforts

There are several projects in India contributing to empower girls across the country. iBus seeks to tap the these initiatives through a collective approach. iBus will establish partnerships with organizations currently offering educational, and professional mentorship, basic technological and home-based business trainings, health and personal education to girls. The iBus approach is to aggregate the scattered empowerment initiatives under a single banner and use the bus to reach the target segment. Rather than expecting the girls to go to multiple training centers or organizations, the iBus will bring these facilities to the girls enhancing accessibility and inspiring other members of the community. Other players engaged with girl-centric issues in India can contribute through partnerships.

Making iBus Sambhav (possible)

Before iBus approaches sponsors and partners, it would be great to hear your comments and feedback. Idea of the iBus is still evolving and you can contribute to make it better. Share your thoughts and be a part of this venture…iBus needs your thoughtful comments before it can hit the road!

Sambhava will share more on different aspects of the iBus in the weeks ahead and is looking forward to the discussions.

Creating a Communications Strategy

If you haven’t heard of the Sweet Dreams Cooperative, you should. It’s a group of young, innovative women who design and sew beautiful hand-made products in San Francisco. My friend Arezoo and I were introduced to this organization through Spark (another organization I highly recommend getting to know!). We were asked to host a social media workshop designed to help the women market their products to a wider audience. Eight months later, we’re still working with these women and couldn’t be having more fun!

Sweet Dreams Zip Cases.
Image Credit: Sweet Dreams.

Sweet Dreams has many similarities to other programs I’ve consulted with: highly interested in social media, yet missing a communications strategy. Social media is fun, engaging, and exciting. It’s only natural to want to go ahead and dive right in. However, without a communications strategy in place, messages are often misconstrued, leaving the audience questioning your credibility. A communications strategy will be the backbone to your organization and will guide you through every outreach adventure. Let’s begin!

1. Define your organization. Simply put: who are you and what do you do? Try to make this as clear and concise as possible. Remember that when marketing online, anyone can see your content. These are often individuals who do not have an understanding of your mission or what you sell. If you’re representing a non-profit or social enterprise, clearly describe how your organization impacts a given issue. Your audience will not invest in your organization unless they believe your work has meaning and value.

2. Define your target audience. Who are you trying to reach and why? Make a list, and keep in mind that having several target audiences is very common. At IIE, we have about ten including young adults, program alumni, and like-minded organizations. Why? We need active people who engage on social media to spread the word about our work. We need to reach out to alumni because they are already invested in our organization and will (hopefully) continue to support us. With like-minded organizations, we can establish a mutual partnership that will allow us to support their events and programs while they do the same for us. Like-minded organizations are an asset not the competition.

3. Define your outreach goals. Why are you marketing? Do you want to sell more products? Do you want more donations, more volunteers and/or more people at your events? Make a list, try to keep it broad and try to keep it to five main bullet points. Keep in mind that this will be an evolving list.

These are the first steps in developing or reconstructing your communications strategy. It’s a great way to create the “big picture” strategy by brainstorming with your colleagues. Have fun during this process and always feel free to ask me questions!

Vi kommer att sakna dig, Heather!


We could not be more excited for you to start a new adventure in Sweden! A couple of us came together to dedicate this post to you and write about what we’ll miss most while you’re away (yes, you’re coming back). This is our way of saying that we absolutely love you and you will be dearly missed.

She is so Tall and I’m so Little!

The day I met Heather Murphy, I was very intimidated by her. She is so tall and I’m so little!

When I started working with her on E-Mediat, her first conversation with me was: “I’m on the Board of a non-profit, Mira and the organization is hosting a fundraising event, it would be great if you can come.” And I thought to myself, never heard of such a young woman to be a Board member of a non-profit. I was very impressed but that didn’t do much the break the ice between us.

However, once I started to work with her more closely following the changes on our team, I realized that she is a super-cool person. The one thing that Heather has taught me is, how not to stress under pressure. Another thing that I love about Heather is her fashion sense – stylish yet very cool; true California Girl!

Though I’ve known her only for a year, she is a dear friend and I’m going to miss her a lot. I also realize that given Heather’s Facebook activity it will never be an issue to stay connected with her!

Have fun in Sweden and hope to see our Uppsala graduate in the United Nations resolving global conflicts!

-Madhavi Bashin

Expense Reports, Happy Hours and Clothing Exchanges

I know one thing Heather will not miss about IIE – expense reports.  Although, I was always happy when Heather had an expense report to do, because that would give me an excuse to go hang out with her in her office for multiple hours while we would decipher what to do with her challenging reports.  Heather-  I will not only miss doing expense reports with you but hanging out at happy hours and clothing exchanges and in the kitchen at work.  I am so excited to hear all about your adventures and accomplishments in the future, because I know there will be many.  Please stay in touch! We will miss you so much!

-Elisa Manheim

 I Will be Lost Without Your Muscle Shows

I will be lost without your boxing obsession, your “muscle shows”, your horrible jokes (like mine are so much better!) and your extensive knowledge on almost every random fact! I will miss you teaching me how to cook, our happy hours, and long chats about life. You’ve been a genuine friend since the day I met you and I wish you only the best in the next chapter of your life.  Good luck, have fun, and make room because I’ll be coming to visit!

-Nicole Wood

A Good Friend and Colleague


I can’t even imagine this place without you. Thank you for being such a good friend and colleague. You will be sooooo missed, but I know we’ll see you on down the line. Have an amazing time in Sweden. I know you’ll rock it-  I have no doubt!

-Allyson Martinez

I Totally Want to be Her When I Grow Up!

Heather is actually the reason I started volunteering at IVLP. I met her through  a previous manager I had as an intern and Heather agreed to meet with me for coffee and tell me about IIE. She told me all about her job and I thought to myself, “that chick is awesome, I totally want to be her when I grow up!” She suggested I start by volunteering with IVLP which I did a few weeks later.

What I will miss most about Heather is having someone in the office who I can tell my most juicy and embarrassing stories to and know, without a doubt, that she’ll tease me about them later after sharing some of her own. She always makes a point to stop by and say hi, probably just because we have candy in our office but still very much appreciated, and she’s the only person who really understands the absolute necessity of owning way too many pairs of shoes. Hanging out with Heather is always a rockin’ good time and I wish we had played more pool together…maybe when I come visit.

-Korin Hoffman

I’ll Miss Feeling “Old” Together

Gosh, I can’t imagine walking into the office on Monday and Heather not being there. After working together for nearly four years, it will be a hard transition. I will miss her flexing her muscles, reminiscing about our GW days, and lounging on her couch. I’ll miss feeling “old” together… now I will need to stomach this reality all by my lonesome. I’ll miss going to her for advice about work… and life too 🙂 I’ll miss our lunches, happy hours, and sleepovers, and I’ll miss regularly losing to her at word games. Heather, you will be terribly missed. Thank goodness we will get to see you again in October. Best of luck my dear friend!!!

-Arezoo Miot

Social Media for Good

As IIE West Coast Center’s first social media officer, I have the exciting opportunity of using innovative social media tools to introduce our work to a greater audience. Social media is used primarily to expose our training and scholarship opportunities to a wider audience, encourage followers to become involved with our programs, and to provide participants with a platform for continued connection through our extensive networks. IIE West Coast Center is relatively new to social media and we are currently in a stage of experimentation. By utilizing social media tools that allow us to effectively covey our mission, we hope to shape our outreach strategy and move in Beth Kanter’s words “from crawling to walking” and eventually flying.

After considering various options, I decided to work on designing and implementing a social media experiment for the IIE West Coast Center’s Twitter handle. My goal was to expand the reach of our organization and deliver focused content to our audience. To begin with, I have launched a “focus on hashtag” experiment for the duration of one month. This experiment outlines a Twitter schedule, consisting of a designated topic for each day of the week:

  • Mondays, using #education, focuses on IIE’s scholarship opportunities, resources for studying abroad, and reports on higher education throughout the world.
  • Tuesdays, using #technology, focuses on our technology programs, such as E-Mediat and TechWomen, upcoming conferences, and resources for women in STEM fields.
  • Wednesday, using #women, highlights the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives by featuring our expertise in women’s empowerment throughout the world.
  • Thursdays are dedicated to #socialgood, promoting volunteer openings, upcoming events, and opportunities with other like-minded organizations.
  • The week concludes with Fun Fridays, using #FF. The tweets are held in a light atmosphere, displaying photos of staff around the office and announcing new team members.

Since the experiment’s launch on February, 6th 2012, we’ve seen an increase of 50 new followers and an increase in the overall Klout score from the 30’s to the 40’s. The raw Klout scores show that there was a significant increase in our re-tweets which went from 63 to 106; our mentions increased from 76 to 99; and our true reach went from 183 to 297. With regards to our Klout style, we’ve moved from the socializer to the networker: focused and consistent.

The results above show that the experiment had a positive effect on our social media strategy, resulting in an increase in focused communications and engagement with the IIE West Coast Center audience. Designating topics to each day of the week established a sense of credibility with the audience and allowed for unique followers to identify with our organization. This experiment will need to be built upon, adding components of further engagement to expand the overall reach of the IIE West Coast Center. I am excited to continue learning about social media and work with new tools that complement our outreach efforts. I welcome all feedback and look forward to the next chapter in our social media adventure!

*In February, I was asked by the E-Mediat: Tools, Technology, and Training program to write for their blog on my recent experiment with social media for an international nonprofit, originally featured here

Women-Led Solutions to Local and Global Issues

I was invited to work on an Institute of International Education special roundtable event, featuring Ms. Tina Tchen, Assistant to President Obama, Chief of Staff to the First Lady Michelle Obama, and Executive Director for the White House Council on Women and Girls. I had the honor of designing the invitation, which was sent to and approved by the White House directly! While preparing for the event, I was introduced to many San Francisco Bay Area organizations that empower women globally. It was my first experience working with local women centric organizations and I was deeply impressed, intrigued, and inspired by this group of remarkable women.

Ms. Tchen led a candid conversation, providing us with insight into the initiatives, priorities, and challenges of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Local executive directors were eager to share the impact of their programs, many of which were complimented by Ms. Tchen’s efforts in the White House.

Sitting next to me was Jennifer Seibel Newsom who proudly stood up to announce the release of her new documentary, Miss Representation. Her passion for the film resonated with me and I knew that I needed to find a screening immediately.

The energy from the event has reinforced my passion for women’s empowerment and I look forward to the opportunity of working with these amazing women again.