Meet the Women Guiding the Female Leaders of Tomorrow

Meet the Women Guiding the Female Leaders of Tomorrow

By Phoebe Knight

In the boardrooms, operating rooms and research labs of the future, women won’t just be leaning in—they’ll be standing at the head of the table.

We spoke with the women in Atlanta who’ve made it their mission to shape today’s girls into tomorrow’s leaders, and spoiler alert: They’re awesome. They’re also already making a big difference.

Atlanta GLOW founder Ashlie James understands the importance of having a solid foundation and a strong network when you’re starting out as a professional.

James didn’t let these roadblocks get in her way, though. Hungry to learn and grow, James began her career of volunteer work. This led her to a group of mentors who encouraged her to continue striving towards her goals. With her mentors cheering her on, James returned to school.

“The advocacy and support are what really helped me to push forward because I had all of these positive examples of women who had been successful despite the odds of their community,” said James.

GLOW volunteers

GLOW volunteers (Photo courtesy of Atlanta GLOW)

Her experiences ignited her passion for helping other young women who also struggled in forgotten, low-income communities. Two weeks after graduating with a master’s degree in nonprofit management and Christian leadership, James founded Atlanta GLOW.

GLOW stands for Growing Leadership of Women. The organization provides one-on-one mentorships for young women who face economic and social obstacles. By providing meaningful role models to those who need them most, women receive the tools they need to grow professionally and personally and to become a forces of change within their communities.

“I wanted to pour into their potential and desire to do something more in life, providing them with constructive, positive examples of women who have come from similar backgrounds, but with perseverance and determination, were able to make something great of themselves,” said James.

Atlanta Glow’s mentorship program focuses on goal-setting, networking and sustainability. The organization also offers summer leadership programs, day-long workshops and career days where professionally minded women can receive resumé consultation, pose for professional headshots and peruse the mobile career closet for the perfect interview attire.

Female mentors were also of great importance to Tina Shah, founder of Ms. STEM.

As Shah advanced her career in chemical engineering, she relied on her mentors to guide her along the way. “I couldn’t have done it without them, specifically the female mentors,” said Shah. “But very few of them existed at that time.”

When she moved away from engineering, Shah created her own after-school math center that grew to have more than 150 students. After speaking with students and parents, Shah realized that there was a need for a place where girls could explore STEM together in a fun, safe environment. She also wanted them to meet successful career role models to help inspire them to achieve.

Her solution was Ms. STEM, an all-girls summer camp with a mission to “nurture and mentor the future leaders in STEM.”

The camp brings in speakers in a variety of STEM-related fields, like medical doctors, CISCO technicians and the Federal Reserve. “We want our girls to know that they’re capable of these things, they’re not alone and they shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries,” said Shah.

A growing component of the camp is leadership. The girls are assigned a STEM-based project to work on, which they present to their parents and other camp-goers.

Ms. STEM Founder Tina Shah and camp participants

Ms. STEM Founder Tina Shah and camp participants (Photo courtesy of Atlanta GLOW)

Shah often felt timid as a young girl and struggled with expressing her ideas. That’s why her project fosters learning in addition to organization, communication and public speaking.

“We want them to learn confidence and how to assert themselves in a public environment,” said Shah. “Half the battle when you become a STEM-certified young lady is understanding you have the ability within yourself to be confident.”

Experiments at the camp explore almost every corner of STEM, including chemistry, robotics, coding and aerospace engineering projects. In one project the girls built wheelchairs, emphasizing how a design can benefit the community.

Although the projects are exciting, inspiration remains the heart of the project for Shah. Her goal is to help young girls understand that with determination, anything is possible.

If you would like to get involved in shaping tomorrow’s women leaders, Atlanta GLOW is always in need of volunteer mentors and financial support. Likewise, Ms. STEM is accepting applications for motivated camp counselors.