The HERlead Vital Voices Initiative: Training and Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders

The HERlead Vital Voices Initiative is a groundbreaking partnership between ANN INC., parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey, and Vital Voices. We are working together to empower young women from across the U.S. with the leadership skills they need to effect global progress, invest in their communities and begin their journeys as the next generation of leaders.

At the 10th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards in 2011, we challenged 500 young women in the audience to take the inspiration and energy from that evening and — in their own way, within their local communities — pay it forward. Since then, ANN INC. and Vital Voices select 50 outstanding young women every year, who are high school sophomores and juniors, to become HERlead Fellows and participate in the HERlead Vital Voices Leadership Forum, a three-day leadership training and mentorship program in New York, NY. After participating in the Forum, the Fellows are charged with transforming their ideas into action, and are eligible to receive HERlead Grants of up to $2,000 to help them to implement projects in their communities.

HERlead Grants are awarded each fall to Fellows who have innovative ideas for projects that will affect a positive social change in their respective communities. HERlead Grants are supporting projects that range from creating mentoring opportunities for young women entering politics, to enabling youth activism through the arts, to encouraging girls to enter the fields of science, technology, and math. Through these projects, our HERlead Grantees are creating a ripple effect that we estimate will positively impact over 5,000 members of their collective communities throughout the country each year.

Announced as a “Commitment to Action” at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the HERlead Advisory Council is composed of influential women in the media, business and entertainment who have displayed exceptional leadership.  Members of the Council review, score and recommend outstanding grant proposals as well as serve as mentors to the Fellows and ambassadors of the HERlead Initiative to the public. Currently, the HERlead Advisory Council includes actress Jennifer Morrison ("Once Upon a Time," "House"), Kay Krill,  Board Member of Ascena Retail Group, and Alyse Nelson, President and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership.