For the past 15 years, the non-profit organization -- aimed at paving the way for women to lead and succeed in marketing and media -- has honored members of the advertising community for championing and serving as role models to the women of our industry. They've been brave souls with a sense of humor and willingness to be the subject of a warm-hearted ribbing by other industry luminaries. In this exclusive exchange with MediaVillage, Lynn Branigan (pictured below), President and CEO of She Runs It, explains more about the organization's mission, and why so many are so willing to participate and attend:
Kathy Newberger: You have a lot of bold-faced names set to present at this week's event, from self-described "industry provocateur" and recent GroupM Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman to Twentieth Century Fox Films' head of media, Julie Rieger. Aside from the chance to hobnob with the media community and enjoy live music by Kim Sozzie, what drives such uptake?
Lynn Branigan: I believe it's an appreciation of and belief in supporting our entire mission and all of the services we provide to our members, like Education Loan Relief -- one of the benefits of which we're most proud. Over the past six years, the She Runs It Foundation has raised more than half a million dollars which has been distributed to about 56 women in our industry to help ease the burden of student loan debt. It's important to note that Linda Yaccarino is a member of our foundation board, which raises the funds that make Education Loan Relief possible. Of course, we're equally proud of all of the more than 50 programs we offer women during the course of each year that span thought leadership, professional development, networking and mentoring -- and the recognition of outstanding achievements by leaders and executives who serve as inspiration to our membership and the entire industry.
Newberger: I read a quote from one the recent Education Loan Relief recipients, who said that not only was the award a great help financially, but it demonstrated for her how important it is to give back to the ad and media community. Can you tell us a bit about the work She Runs It is doing along with the media community to help pave the way for more women leaders?
Branigan: I could go on and on about our programs and events across New York and Chicago. For starters, I'm inspired every day by the women (and men!) who participate in our mentoring program. Each year we match up about 350 pairs for one-to-one mentoring. The pairs get together at least monthly, and they shape their own goals and approaches to get the most from the relationship. It's a nine-month rolling program that has been going on for 22 years, and we believe it's the largest mentoring program to serve the marketing and media industry. I have had many, many women tell me that the program has changed their lives. It's amazing.
We go into corporate alliance companies and design training and development sessions for their staffs -- some "brought to you by" She Runs It, and some white labeled. Last year, we took a very big step in pursuit of greater inclusion and diversity and the intersectionality of women in the industry -- and even in our own organization. We launched the Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium, IDAC for short. It exists to recognize the overlapping identities of women, including race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, and it's based on the belief that a more inclusive industry will be remarkably positive for women.
Newberger: As a non-profit, how do you accomplish so much with a relatively small team?
Branigan: She Runs It runs on passion. I have a small, dedicated team, and we're energized every day by our mission, our members, our amazing foundation board and board of directors, plus our corporate alliance partners. We have several volunteer committees that work tirelessly to support us, and a new ambassador program populated by dedicated women (and one man) who are personally committed to nurturing our membership. Partners are essential. For example, this week's event could not have happened without the support of NBCU and Linda's team. When we link arms with like-minded people, there is really no limit to what we can accomplish.
Newberger: What's next for She Runs It?
Branigan: In 2017 we made huge strides in expanding to Chicago, and we now have more than 800 members in that community! In mid-April of this year, we will launch a capital campaign to help us to continue our expansion. With our industry's support, we can extend our service to the West Coast. We're striving to secure $500K per year for three years so that we can serve San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle by Q1, 2019, realizing our goal to be a national organization.
Newberger: You're running an organization focused on female leadership in the days of #TimesUp and #MeToo. Are you seeing increased industry support and more of a coming together for She Runs It?
Branigan: There is definitely more volume behind our mission, and we are witnessing a lot more solidarity. I believe a lot of companies and organizations are realizing that we can make a lot more progress much more quickly if we link arms and work together as opposed to competing with each other for voice and resources.
I am delighted to see the increased collaboration. 4As, for example, has been a remarkable champion of IDAC, as has IAB and Ad Council. We are eager to embrace and support all partners who want to help us accelerate our mission and propel more women into leadership roles across our industry.
A limited number of tickets to the event are still available at SheRunsIt.org
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