Inspiring the next GenHERation

August 3, 2016

GenHERation header

Story by Karen Rodriguez-Ponciano, Diversity & Inclusion Intern

On July 18th, Adobe had the pleasure of hosting over 50 young female leaders from all around the country as a part of GenHERation‘s Summer Discovery Days.

Discovery Days are immersive day trips that provide high school and college girls the opportunity to visit some of the most innovative companies in America. Participants travel by bus throughout the city, visiting companies such as IDEO, Twitter, Facebook and Adobe to be exposed to female leadership, career exploration opportunities and participate in skill-building activities. Adobe was the last stop of the San Francisco July 18th Summer Discovery Days immersive day trip.

Guided discussion panel participants Solu Nwanze, Marisa Lenhardt, Tracy Stampfli, Ashley Still and Ellen Vanderwilt.
Guided discussion panel participants Solu Nwanze, Marisa Lenhardt, Tracy Stampfli, Ashley Still and Ellen Vanderwilt.

After the Discovery Days participants arrived to the Adobe San Francisco office, Kate Morris, Adobe’s Diversity and Inclusion lead, kicked off the event by sharing Adobe’s commitment to inspiring and developing our future leaders. The first half of the evening brought upon a guided discussion panel that provided the young women with valuable lessons and knowledge from Adobe female leaders in their respective fields. Katlyn Grasso, GenHERation’s CEO, introduced “Lessons in Leadership” as the topic of the panel and followed with an introduction of the panel participants.

The panelists provided empowering advice to the audience for their personal and professional paths. On leadership style, Ashley Still, Vice President of Enterprise Offerings, recommended to the audience to adopt a leadership style that aligned with their personality. “There’s not a single right leadership style” – she shared – “there are fantastic leaders who are very soft-spoken and more introverted.” Solu Nwanze, Business Operations Senior Manager, told the young women to be their authentic selves. “It’s too tiring to try to be someone else, and you attract people you want to work with.”

Marisa Lenhardt, Creative Technologies Lab Program Manager, encouraged the girls to take risks and pursue their interests and passions. “You have to go find the thing you want to do. Do that. Find the job for yourself” – Marisa told the audience – “Don’t take a job. Make your job.”

Amy Copperman from the Spark team gave the girls a quick demo on how to use Spark Video.
Amy Copperman from the Spark team gave the girls a quick demo on how to use Spark Video.

Following the discussion panel, the participants took part in the Adobe + GenHERation presidential challenge. The young women had the opportunity to use Adobe Spark Video to complete a presidential campaign video where they shared their plans to inspire more girls to get involved in technology.

The girls had less than 30 minutes to create a 30-45 second video with Adobe Spark Video that would be judged on their creativity and practical implementation. Some of the initiatives that the girls incorporated in their videos were implementing coding in school curriculum and after school programs to get help from STEM professionals. The winner of the challenge was team 4, with their video, titled “Leya for President!”

“It was so exciting to see the young women of GenHERation using Adobe technology to make their voices heard,” shared Allison Doyle, Audience Manager Consultant and member of the volunteer team. “Events like this make me proud to be an Adobe employee and I’m so glad we continue to invest in programs to help young people engage with our industry,” shared Neeta Nadkarny, Creative Cloud Product Manager and volunteer. “It was invigorating to see the energy of the group – despite Adobe being the last visit of a long day.”

“It’s was great to see the girls’ ideas come alive with Spark (…)” the Spark team shared. “We hope they continue to use the product for everything from self-expression to creating change in the world.”

The final portion of the GenHERation + Adobe Discovery Days event consisted on raffling away prizes, such as gift cards and mentoring sessions. The closing topic of the night was the announcement of the Adobe Impact Award. The Impact Award is an opportunity for the Summer Discovery Days participants to go back to their communities and apply what they learned during Discovery Days trip. The winner of the Adobe Impact Award will have an opportunity to win a $500 grant and receive mentorship from a female leader to help them implement the project in their community.

GenHERation, is a female empowerment network for girls in high school and rising college freshmen who are interested in business and technology. GenHERation is one of several programs Adobe sponsors as part of a broader effort to increase the number of girls and other underrepresented groups pursuing careers in technology. In addition to GenHERation, Adobe has actively partnered with programs such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Technovation.

A big thank you to the panelists, all our volunteers and the Spark team for creating an unforgettable experience for these future female leaders!